I keep finding myself wanting to write about what it’s like to be Black in the workplace. What it’s been like to be a Black woman at work navigating mental health.
I have so many thoughts on race and work. Race and mental health. So I’ve decided that this is going to become a series. Consider it an extension of Roll Call, I call it Black Mental Health, and this is part 1.
For me, being Black at work, often meant having a magnifying glass placed on me.
Maybe it’s because of the high level of racism I personally experienced. Maybe it’s because I was often one of one or one of a few in the workplace. It could be because of the harassment I encountered, or the amount of gaslighting that I experienced. It could be because I worked in a space where a boss could cry to me about how overwhelmed they were and then in the next breath, tell me I’m not doing enough and constantly message and micromanage me. It might be all of the above.
I usually write about past experiences that happened far enough away that I’ve had the space and ability to fully process them, but my mental health is a constant piece of my life. I can’t talk about my past mental health, without mentioning my current mental health.
In June this year, when the world was on fire, because of the racial injustice that continues to plague our country, I was terrified for my loved ones on the east coast. Were they okay? Were they safe?
Being Black in America is terrifying at work, going for a run, sleeping in your home. It’s hard to decompress. It’s hard to relax when you don’t feel like you have the space to breathe.
2020 has certainly been a hard year for a lot of reasons, Coronavirus and the results of that have certainly been a big part. This time frame, working from home and also seeing a place I enjoyed being turn toxic was a hard pill to swallow but also pushed me to prioritize myself and my health over everything else.
Want to hear about the shittiest thing that happened to me this year? I was diagnosed with PTSD right after George Floyd was murdered, which is also around the time I started writing more and wrote Roll Call. I worked in a space where I had to have a one on one conversation about my work from the previous week, right after being asked how I was and I told them that I was recently diagnosed with PTSD. That portion was totally ignored and the focus was on an action plan for the work, and being told that I was making things harder for them.
That stuck out for me as a reminder that I was just a number. That my life didn’t matter and I wasn’t seen or heard. That I could be a face on an ad, but I was only as good as the last thing I submitted.
In a world where as a Black woman it already feels like you don’t matter, work isn’t a place where you should also feel that way.
So what did I do? I quit. And I’ve made the decision to work for myself, because if there’s one boss I know that will always remember me, that will always know that my health is important, it’s me 💁🏾♀️💕