Breaking the Stigma: Tamara's Story
When I heard the term "mental health" for the first time, it was an aha! moment. I had always focused on my mind and soul as a part of my overall well-being but never knew the correct way to describe it. It wasn't obviously discussed in my home. But I will acknowledge that my parents always emphasized that their children never do anything that decreased our peace of mind.
When did you first realize the importance of your mental health?
Actually I began to take this serious the minute I met my now-husband. His interest in me was the catalyst that made me pursue counseling because I recognized from our interactions that I had some personal issues to work through, and if I didn't address them, they would most definitely affect our dating relationship.
What obstacles did you encounter in an effort to care for your mental health?
The first one was finding someone I felt comfortable with in the industry. It seems like a simple task but it is very challenging to find a woman of color who practices in the mental health space. Secondly, finances was an obstacle. Being in college meant that, at the time, I had limited funds. This didn't stop me from taking action but times were tough. Lastly, as I pursued mental health treatment, it was challenging to establish boundaries with those who had taken advantage of me for quite some time. Because I had taken so long to address my mental health, I had unintentionally showed people a dupe version of myself. That was very hard to de-program from their minds.
Is mental health discussed within your family? How about with your friends?
My immediate family and friends - not at all! Surprisingly, my co-workers, talk about it frequently. I'd say they are the most aligned with my views on mental health.
How does your family history & country of origin inform your mental health journey?
I'm still navigating the effects of all this BUT I can say that as a Bajan, my Caribbean culture has a huge impact. First, my family history is a great indicator of what negatively triggers my mental health. However, there are lot of treasured memories and familiar moments that positively impact my self-worth and well-being.
What do you wish people in your community understood about mental health?
Hmmm, I wish people understood that their well-being is more important than money, titles, or careers. And I hope that having great mental health becomes an individual measure of success.
More about Tamara
Caribbean-Born. Wife. Mom. Boss. Encouraging Women to Live & Love Life.