“Melanin and Flow”

“Melanin and Flow” is dedicated to highlighting individuals within our community that are dedicated to overcoming the stigma associated with mental health and wellness. This segment highlights their experience, essence, and their ability to embrace the “ebb and flow” associated with maintaining their relationship with their mental health. BlackSoleHeeling, LLC honors these individuals and their dedication to “Mental Health for the Culture.” We salute these individuals and their willingness to share and continue to fight the stigma associated with mental health within the Black community.”

Hello!
My name is Michelle White, thank you for this opportunity to share and de-stigmatize mental health care in our community.
I am a licensed social worker and the creator of gmichelle: Self Care Resources and the Self Explore, Self Restore guided self-care journal. Gmichelle is focused on creating space to explore and embrace safe relationships with ourselves and each other. My hope is to provide shame-free support, education and resources to folks that are healing from harmful interpersonal relationships.

My journey of self-love and intentional mental health care is an experience of ups, downs and ever-so-necessary self-care. In October 2016, I made the decision to leave a job I loved due to being under-paid and overworked. I was encouraged by my family and the future of my long-distance relationship to move south.

When moving to Atlanta, I had difficulty obtaining my clinical licensure and learned I would have to take steps backwards in my social work career. At the same time, the distance between my partner and I was taking a financial and emotional toll. With the eager hopes of us both moving to Atlanta together, I began getting settled in Atlanta and my partner received a job offer in . . . Maryland.

Feeling alone, regretful and defeated, this time in my life was filled with me treating myself unkindly. Self-doubt and negative self-talk kept me company. My loved ones noticed I was quick to anger and I had become more skeptical, pessimistic and hopeless. I was showing signs of depression and I was losing the ability to trust myself. My depression was created from doubting my ability to make good decisions for myself.

It was clear that my once loving and confident relationship with myself was fading . . . quickly. With this realization, I needed to find connection. My healing needed to include rebuilding my connection to positivity, encouragement and hopefulness. With some searching and being open to creative ways to heal, I found that connection through my faith and group therapy.

Reconnecting to a local community church, regularly attending a therapy group for Black women and becoming a student of how to really take care of myself, I began to learn that I wasn’t alone in my journey. Reconnection to positive and loving communities helped me re-engage in regular self-care and trust myself again.

In the process of doing this healing work, I found a new job and became a licensed Georgia social worker. I found friendships through my college alumni in Atlanta. And my partner recently found a job in Atlanta where he and I are both happily settled together.

It can be so difficult to trust the journey we are currently on. Self-discovery is a period of exploration that comes in waves of disappointment and triumph. What helps us on this journey is reconnection to safe relationships and practicing intentional mental health care. I am humbled when reflecting on how caring, insightful and important my relationships are to my well-being.

And more than anything, my relationship with myself needs all the loving it can get. Self-love and mental health care are now absolute priorities in my life.

G. Michelle White

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