The Toll of Freedom Fighting by Chad Golden

Undiagnosed mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and many others are at an epidemic level in the black community. This stems from a variety of things but is mainly due to the stigma that is placed on mental illness within the black community. We are often shamed for seeking mental help because we have been taught to view it as some sort of weakness. Others believe that we should have faith and that religion can solve all of our problems. It is said that black people don't suffer from these disorders at a higher rate than any other race, but I would argue that we experience more trauma and receive less treatment than any other group in America. As a black person in America you are constantly bombarded with black death. Every 28 hours a black person is murdered by police. That fact alone is enough to make you feel depressed.  Not to mention the poverty, poor education, lack of equality in health care, and state violence that disproportionally effects black people.
The vast majority of people in society are able to deal with these issues on a surface level or are privileged enough to be able to overlook them altogether. I have been called by some higher power or force within me to face these issues head on, and when you do that, you really sacrifice a piece of yourself. Its almost like you sign a contract for mental anguish.

Being involved in any type of resistance or social justice movement is taxing physically, mentally, and most of all emotionally. I have struggled with depression and anxiety for about 4 years now. Dealing with these issues by themselves is hard enough, but add on the stress and strife of literally fighting for your right to live, and it can feel like living in hell. The waves of negative thoughts. Wanting to get out of the rut you're in but feeling hopeless. Not wanting to eat. Having trouble sleeping. Feeling sad for unexplainable reasons or no reason at all. And on top of feeling all of this, we deal with the burden of being ashamed of our condition and not wanting to inconvenience others by talking about it.  Most people who are close to me have no idea that I deal with this as I have developed a sort of social mask over time. My story is not unique as I have noticed that quite a few of my comrades in the movement deal with similar issues.

The frustration, anger, and sadness that comes along with this work can be very hard to deal with. So how do we deal with it? I personally just try to suck it up and keep moving, but at times it can feel unbearable. I've felt like "Why am I even doing this? It's not something that we can win." I'm not ashamed to have had these thoughts because I am human and at times the odds can seem insurmountable. I'm actually proud that I am able to battle these negative thoughts and emotions and continue to push forward and fight against injustice.

One place I have been able to find solace throughout these personal battles is with my fellow activists, writers, and organizers who are fighting alongside me. I have lost a lot of the person I was before August 9th, but I have gained so much more than I ever was alone. I have gained a community; a family. Without this community I would have given up on this work months ago. I would have given into the belief that this is just the way things are and this is just how things are going to be. I would have believed that I deal with these issues alone and that no one can relate to me. You all have given and continue to give me the strength to carry on. You all inspire me to keep fighting and reaffirm my belief that as long as we are in this together we can overcome all obstacles; personal or community.
Chad Golden is a father, activist, and writer. Follow him on twitter.
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