‘Pray through it,’ they said…

Published 10:04 pm Monday, October 17, 2016

I’ve heard it from aunts, grandparents and uncles, and I know I’m not alone.

“Pray through it,” they said of my anxiety.

Yes, prayer does change things. But at the same time, through prayer, God may be telling you that you need help if you battle with mental health complications.


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But many in the African-American community turn a blind eye and try to sweep mental health matters under the rug.

That’s when we hear it: “Pray through it.”

I feel this comes from our lack of knowledge about mental health. My race, especially the more “seasoned” folk, refuse to set foot into the doctor’s office, never mind a therapist’s office or mental health clinic.

So, what do we do? We self-medicate.

Marijuana, hard drugs, alcohol and other vices become our “medicine.”

So, we partake and then what? We feel elevated above our problems for a brief period. But, when the drunkenness and highs fade away and we float back down to Earth, our problems are still there.

So, then we do those things again and again and again.

Some of us may be brave enough to tell a loved one what we are feeling.

“Pray through it,” is too often the response.

Our internal voices scream out, “I NEED HELP!”

“Pray through it, baby.”

I thank God my parents didn’t just throw this statement at me and watch my anxiety cripple me. They took action and got me hospitalized and treated.

When I was admitted, I was told I had schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. I was also told I might not be able to go to college and that my parents might have to take care of me for the rest of my life. I was told this my senior year of high school.

We plan, but God laughs.

By the grace of God, I graduated with cum laude honors from Virginia Commonwealth University, and I landed my first “big boy” job less than a month out of college.

Also, it turns out I didn’t have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Instead, I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

I occasionally still have anxiety attacks and breakdowns. But, I thank God I’m living, in my right mind.

This column is not an attempt to put down my family. Rather, it is an attempt to bring awareness to an issue that isn’t talked at Grandma’s house during Sunday dinner.

We need to start having this discussion, my brothers and sisters, because we are hurting more than you think.