If you have been following my blog and or social media, you know that I am a strong mental health advocate, and that I don’t shy away from sharing my personal journey concerning mental health. I wanted to write this article to shed light on mental health in a positive way, within our community. A part of my purpose in life, is to inform our community and break stigmas centered around mental health, rather it be through my art, as I continue to write and plan on publishing books later on in life, as well as through films, as I plan on studying film during grad school, or simply through the platform that I have now. Often times as Black people, we don’t fully understand the magnitude of how important mental health is. It is my mission to break the stigma, that mental health means you’re “crazy” or that something is wrong with you. Mental health is so broad, that it isn’t always about the negative. It is also about simply taking care of your mind as you would your body. I reached out to a couple of young Black women, from my home city of Flint, Michigan, to add their perspectives on the subject of mental health, self-love, being college students, etc. To create a two part article.
Here is the first part below:
First we have Janeigha Kay Cummings, a 20 year old, stunning, down to earth, and intelligent young woman, from the city of Flint, Michigan, who currently attends Central Michigan University.
Here are her thoughts below:
Allahnastevie: What is your view on mental health ?
Janeigha Kay: “My view on mental health is I believe first off that it is extremely important. This is something that over the span of my life, I’ve had to realize. Mental health was never something in my household that was taken seriously, more so mental health would be used like “you’re crazy!”. There would be insults like that. Mental health was never taken seriously, and I feel like I had to learn through society and through growing up and getting out of my household, seeing the world as what it is, and going through life in my own way, as a young adult, how extremely important mental health is, and how serious it should be taken. Being that you won’t be able to function or do anything unless your mental health is “A1″, and that’s something that I’ve had to learn overtime.”
AS: Do you feel that mental health has an ugly stigma attached to it?
JK: I believe that once upon a time there was an ugly stigma attached to mental health, but now in 2018, I believe that the world and society has become more aware of what’s going on with our friends and family. I do believe that there is a lot more mental health awareness, which I am extremely happy about, but I do believe that a lot of people had to die, a lot of people had to commit suicide, a lot of people had to be hurt, for society to understand how serious mental health is. I do believe that the more and more we create mental health awareness, that it’s going to be a positive thing. I do believe that a lot of people are way more positive and mental health is taken way more seriously, even in my own household. Mental health is taken way more serious and percussions have been taken. So no, I believe that there “once” was an ugly stigma attached.
AS: What’s your idea of self-love and how important is it to have as a young woman?
JK: “It is extremely important as a young woman, you won’t survive, I believe that you will just be another average.. just another statistic in America, in life, if you don’t understand the power and importance of self- love. You will not make it in any relationship, because you will invest so much in the opposite direction, which will only leave you feeling empty. You must fill your own cup. I’ve had to learn this in many different avenues in my life. What I mean by fill your own cup is, investing in what truly makes you happy, and it’s easy to sit there and discuss self-love, but I believe that within a personal journey, that a woman must go through herself, because a friend, a mother, a sister, you can sit there and tell somebody how to love themselves, but they have to look in the mirror and understand what’s looking back at them, is a beautiful soul, and a unique soul. Self-worth and self-love is knowing that you are individually unique. You will never be Kim K or Beyoncé. You are you and you are beautiful, you have a purpose and you are uniquely, imperfectly, perfect. Once you realize and understand that, you will understand that you have the keys to everything.
You are you and that’s that. Self-love is very important and once you know that there is so much that you can conquer and manifest in this life, and I really feel like once you know and love yourself, you don’t need nobody, because you know that people can only add to your love, they’re not meant to fill your cup, because you already filled your own cup, and that will save you so much trouble in life and that is some real ass shit.”
AS: I think that mental health is just caring for yourself mentally and spiritually, taking those days for yourself, meditating, praying, etc. What are some things that you do to take care of yourself mentally?
JK: It is very important to take care of yourself mentally. Things that I do, I have recently started to meditate, to get in tune with the universe, because we tend to dish out a lot to the universe, meaning we dish out a lot to God; we want to pray, pray, pray, but we never take the time to listen. So what I found to do mentally, which is mentally stimulating for myself, and calm that brings me peace of mind, is sitting somewhere very quiet, in the sun somewhere, and just listening to what God wants me to hear, focusing on my breathing, focusing on me.
As humans we don’t even sit there and listen to our own breath, so today, I did a meditation that focused on my own breath, and I thought it was really interesting that I never sat there and really listened to my own self breathe, how the oxygen flows through my body and goes in and out. Another thing that I do to help me mentally is pray. I pray to God.
I agree, I do believe that helping yourself out mentally is a balance of spiritual, and just being healthy, meaning eating healthy foods. People don’t even realize that what we put into our bodies affects how we function, so we need to be eating healthy foods, praying, meditating, writing. I write a lot of times, poems, and I write when I’m feeling down. So prayer, writing, meditation, and reflection. Venting, talking to other people, never letting things marinate in my own mind, but sharing it always.
AS: What are some of your favorite things to do right now that help you cater to yourself; lift yourself up, find solace?
JK: “One of my favorite things to do right now that lifts me up is working out. Working out has never been my cup of tea. I’ve always been athletic, but actually working out with weights, and actually eating right hasn’t been my forte. I should stop saying that it hasn’t been my forte, I wasn’t raised in a household where my parents where active, or where my siblings where active. I was the middle child who was the athletic one, but I recently got into going to the gym after leaving toxic situations, and this is something that I look forward to doing, that gives me balance and solace, and makes me feel good for numerous reasons. One, because I’m getting active, I’m doing something healthy for my body, I’m gaining muscle, which is good for your body. Working out produces endorphins, so if I’m feeling poopy, I don’t make any excuses. I get my butt to the gym, I feel good because, I’m determined number one, number two I’m driven, number three I’m healthy, and number four I’m leaving the gym not feeling poopy anymore, because I literally just pushed myself to do something, I didn’t event want to do, and it ends up benefiting you on multiple avenues. You’re mentally stable, it gives you the energy and motivation to do other things in your life. It’s a struggle , but it’s a beautiful struggle, and then you look in the mirror and you like what’s looking back at you.”
AS: Have you ever dealt with depression and or anxiety? If so how did you or are you currently coping/getting through?
JK:: “I believe that everyone has experienced some form of depression or anxiety, rather mild or intense, but I have personally experienced both. When I was depressed or when I go through depression stages in my life, I really don’t even like to use the word “depressed”, because, I believe that the word depression is temporary, depression is temporary. That’s how I get through depression, learning, knowing, and have learned that depression is temporary. It’s something that comes and goes. I don’t like defining my life or me as a depressed individual, because I know that adversity is what makes us, us. You have to embrace it, you have to embrace your sadness, and you can not stay stuck in it. That’s when it becomes a problem. You have to understand that it is something that comes and goes. Know that it does not define you, that is what gets me through every single time, and what I’ve had to learn is like “Hey, I’m not gonna be in this rut forever.” I’m legit not going to be in this same cycle forever. I can be, but the power is up to you, and knowing that it’s all about perspective, that you’re only fooling yourself.
If you call yourself a depressed individual, it’s you’re life, and you’re perspective. As far as anxiety, the more I got older as a woman, the more I do have intense anxiety, but I know that, that is something that I don’t even have to claim, because it’s temporary. It makes us who we are, but when you have God and you have faith, you just know that adversity, and any struggle, you’re going to get through. The universe is not trying to hurt you, and that’s how I get through depression and anxiety. It’s so much to be happy about honestly. Our hard times and circumstances do not define us, period.”
AS: How do you manage to get through those down days as a college student?
JK: “Ugh, I just get through them honestly. College is very hard, especially when you’re battling other things beside college. Jumping in freshman year, you’re only thinking about school, or for me, I was only thinking about school. As I continue to grow up, and it’s now my senior year of college, I’m like “Yo, it’s way more important stuff out here, besides these academics.” I got bills to pay, I got my mind and emotions to keep in tact, like there is so much more than college. So on those down days, I treat myself. I take time out for myself, I don’t give a f*** if I have a whole assignment due, because your mental health is more important than that grade. I just take the time out to meditate, get my head together, do something fun with a friend, laugh about it. I just get through them, because college is hard and once these four years are over, you just have to get through.”
AS: What are some positive things that you try to live by?
JK: “I live in MT. Pleasant for now, I just got back from the west coast, and the west coast has hella positive things; mountains, hiking, a lot of palm trees, the sun was always shining. Just beautiful can’t wait to be back, because mentally the seasons do affect me. So in MT. Pleasant, where Central Michigan University is, the university that I attend; I live near a lot of nature, it’s kind of getting there up north, so I’m around a lot of green and water. It’s beautiful and peaceful. Sometimes I go to a nature park, and I sit there and I get in tune with my surroundings. These are also things that you can do on a down day in college, go on a nature walk, get some sun, get your feet in the grass, be positive, get out of that dorm room.”
AS: Who inspires you?
JK: When I was younger I never really had an idol or an icon. Now that I’m older I can say, no I never really had an icon, but there are people that I look up to, well I can get inspiration from anywhere. I love inspiration, I love wisdom, I love being inspired. It can be a 7 year old girl, if she’s preaching something, I’m learning and I’m being inspired.
I believe that any positive individual, anybody who is doing something right inspires me to improve my life. Never comparing my life to another,but always taking golden nuggets from any handout of wisdom that I can obtain, I’m getting it. I love learning, I love getting inspired, and I love inspiring others.
Beyoncé Knowles, is a huge inspiration to me, because she’s a Virgo woman, as I am. I’m really into astrology, even though I consider myself to be a Christian woman. I feel like on a spiritual level me and Beyoncé share a spiritual connection, because she’s very driven, she started from the bottom and she just took off. She has her stuff together, she’s a diva, no one knows her business, she just has it together, that’s how I like it.
AS: If you could give advice to any young girl growing up in the city of Flint, what would it be? (I always have to ask this question, because for me it’s one of the most powerful questions to ask a young woman from Flint)
JK: “My advice to any young girl from Flint, Michigan, is baby girl get out! (laughter). Yes we come from a small city, yes we got people to take care of, but get out, there is so much more life out here than Flint. You will go somewhere else and prosper. Go somewhere else and prosper, so that you can help our city, don’t stay in it and not be a help. Go somewhere and prosper so you can bring that prosperity to our city, bring that light back to our city.
Don’t surround yourself with bad people, drugs, guns, violence. Stay safe, chase your dreams. Know that just because we come from Flint, Michigan they try and act like we can’t have dreams, that we’re not going to ever make it, I feel like when you’re born into flint, you’re brainwashed to believe, that as soon as you come out the womb, that you gotta think small minded.
We come from a small city, but baby you do not have to dream like that, dream big. As for me a woman coming from Flint, Michigan, in wanting to be an entertainer, wanting to be in the entertainment industry, wanting to model, I’m a very artsy person, I love the arts I’m a fashion major at Central, these things, coming from Flint, Michigan, I didn’t believe they were true, I didn’t believe that it could be a reality, but that’s what I want people from Flint, Michigan to know.
You don’t have to be a scientist, you don’t have to be a mathematician. You have people in Flint that are just so talented, but our minds are so locked down that we believe that we can’t make it out. Leave, whatever anybody is saying, just go. Follow your heart, and when I say follow your heart it sounds cliché, but legit follow that little voice in your heart, that’s telling you that something is positive and that you should react to it. That’s God in your heart telling you to make that move, get out, make a change, so you can bring that change back to the city.
Thank you, Miss Janeigha Kay for being so transparent, and for sharing your truth, story and perspective on this important topic.
Be sure to follow Janeigha on all social media platforms, and be on the look out for what she has to offer the world in the near future:
“We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead.”- Beyonce Knowles