So, I tried therapy before. No shame in it, I was dealing with some things and my employer provided free counseling (y’all should really check if you got EAP benefits) and I’m like, why not? I go to my session, it’s an older white man, really nice guy (even though he used to to do this thing where he would quote relatively known people and ask if I heard of them, yes nilla I heard of Thomas Jefferson; he probably raped an ancestor so we kin). So I went into the first 3 sessions, and well, I felt like I was talking to one of you. He was just too into the story, and I mean I’ve lived quite a life but I wasn’t feeling like I was getting what I needed there. I won’t say it wasn’t helpful at all, there were some things he pointed out that still sit with me that I may not ever had. However, at the end of the employer sponsored sessions he asked (did I have real insurance…I almost booked a session just so he wouldn’t think I couldnt afford it…I’m self conscious, maybe I should see another therapist about that) and if I wanted to continue to see him, I decided thanks, but no thanks. I just felt like a middle aged married white man just wasn’t getting me and wasn’t going to. Nothing against him, but he (it) just wasn’t for me.
I’m quite aware I sound like the stereotype, studies show black people are 20% more likely to have psychological distress than white people, which, duh…being black in America is fugging stressful. 7% of black men will experience some form of severe depression in their lifetime. Studies also show black people make up less than 2% of the mental health field so I mean, the options are pay a microagressive shrink or just deal. Like I said, being black in America is fugging stressful. All of this came to mind the other day at the barbershop as I was watching my barber the other day. It was just an ordinary Saturday, I was about 15 minutes late for my appointment and got leapfrogged (which…how you just gonna leapfrog me, B? All these years? I had plans that night, this nigga ain’t have no plans, he was gonna take a few pics for the gram and sit in there house playing 2K…I almost prayed his hand slipped and he messed up but God don’t like ugly). Anyway, Toupee Fiasco was on the TV for some reason and Young Leapfrog went off. Just ranting about everything and my barber just nodded and agreed, focused on his craft (to my disappointment he never messed up) giving his own points when he could. It was like witnessing a therapy session. So as I sat watching and hating I thought, yo heprobably has had this same conversation all day every day for months. At the end of the cut, you feeling fresh and empowered. For $27 dollars a session. Plus tip. So basically, barbers > therapists. I’m kidding.
I know therapy works great and is productive for plenty of people. We need it as a resource, as a staple, because we’re hurting out here. And I mean of course a barber isn’t as qualified as a mental health professional. The solution is more of US as professionals in the first place. In the interim, men might trust their gfs and barbers over therapists just as we probably trust Naturalista6969 on a message board over a white dermatologist. We find comfort amongst our own. However, therapy in general…I just don’t think it’s for me. Nor is brooding and coming home to a bottle of scotch and trying to live vicariously through my sports teams because thats the “manly” way to emote.
So, I just incorporate my own ways to cope, unwind, find peace. Or as the streets say, self-care. I pray, I sleep, I blog, I play video games, I shoot hoops, I run (walk briskly and sprint a couple times so the numbers add up), I facetime, I play hooky from work once a month, I clean, I listen to music, I get massages, I send selfies, I block numbers, I see family, I draw, I fuck, I shop, I wander, I tweet, I vent, I Netflix, I turn up, I flirt, I drink (tea), I travel, I eat good, I laugh a lot. None singularly are THE answer, they all are. Keep your heart, 3 stacks.
Some find therapy more helpful, some find self care more helpful, but you don’t need to be a Kendrick or Drake fan about this; it doesn’t have to be one or the other. It’s possible to apply both. Perhaps, preferably so. I’ve had homies bare their soul over an ass whooping in Madden. I’ve learned so much about myself in these posts, some drafts will never see the light of day because they got too real. Black men may not go to traditonal therapy, but will pillow talk their girl to death. Me, Kid Cudi and Kanye got through 2010 together. 2016 brought many people to new church homes, hell, even therapy. We all just trying to find our way. Or maybe it took me going to therapy to realize all of the other ways I practice self care because I’m not comfortable in that setting. Boom. Mind blown.