Thought for the Day:
“Don’t let materialistic things be the band-aid to your happiness?”
Question for the Day:
What do you think is the key to happiness?
This week I was saddened to hear about the likely suicide attempt made by R&B singer Tamar Braxton. She was found unresponsive by her boyfriend who reported that the singer had expressed suicidal ideation prior to consuming an excessive amount of alcohol and an overdose of prescription medication. Admittedly, I was never really a fan and found her to be obnoxious, narcissistic and in constant need of attention. Without the full story on her background, I initially chalked her behavior up to her being spoiled and gassed up with Hollywood entitlement. But after doing some research, I learned that she was significantly sexually abused for the majority of her childhood, which explains her need for attention and approval. Celebrity status can seemingly offer a broken person a way to absolve their shame and validate their worth as it offers unconditional praise to anyone attached to money, fame and success. I should have known all this as a therapist, so I take back my initial criticism and want to let it be known that I’m praying for Tamar.
I also see that there’s some concern over Nick Cannon’s mental health as he made some troubling posts to social media after being fired from ViacomCBS over anti-Semitic remarks. I imagine that Nick thought about all of the people that his show “Wildin’ Out” employed and realized that his comments not only hurt him, but affected all of the young comedians that rely on his show to feed their families. Yet, even after apologizing to the powers that be, it wasn’t enough to get his job back. Then the Black community further shamed him for going back on his comments and began treating him like a sell-out.
I feel for celebrities who have to live their lives in the public eye, especially our Black celebrities. Black celebrities have the double burden of having their entire lives exposed while needing to represent the entire culture flawlessly or face the wrath of Black Twitter. It’s a heavy cross to bear especially when you learn that all the money, good looks, influence and accolades in the world are still not enough to make you happy.
I relate on a MUCH smaller level because as a radio, television and film major from Howard University, I started my career as a producer’s and writers’ assistant on a few Hollywood shows. I was considered by those who called themselves my “friends” to be successful and connected. Even though I was just typing scripts, answering calls and fetching mail, people were still kissing up to me and treating me as if I had special insider access, which I didn’t. Though I was made to feel important, I actually fought my first major battle with depression around that same time. Though it seemed like I was on the fast-track, I still felt empty and unfulfilled and I questioned if the people who called themselves my friends, would really care about me if my situation changed. Well, I learned the answer to that question when my entertainment connections dried up and I found myself substitute teaching in Compton to pay my rent. The majority of my Hollywood friends fell off slowly but surely, and I was left to wrestle with insecurities that had been there all along.
So many people make the mistake of believing that it’s the “stuff” that will make the difference as to whether or not they’ll find happiness. Trauma such as abuse, neglect, parental abandonment, rejection, bullying, and heartbreak changes who we are as people. Psychologically speaking, it literally does change the brain and can have long-lasting emotional consequences such as clinical depression or anxiety disorders and physical implications such as migraines or chronic pain. It seems that our natural reflex as people is to just “not think about it.” We know it happened, we know it hurt, but we sweep it aside and do our best to bury it as deep down in our soul as it will go. I’m Doing “Fine!”(ish) We then proceed to distract ourselves with work or relationships in an effort to ignore the pain that always seems to be quietly nagging away at our attempts to find peace.
No matter how much you try to run from the pain, you will never be able to hide behind wealth, popularity, a boo, success, good looks or a big behind forever. No Butts About It For those who have endured significant physical, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse, there is often a deep seeded sense of personal shame and guilt that is hard to just ignore. Most victims of abuse spend their entire lives faulting themselves for the immoral actions of other people and beating themselves up with the thought that they “should have known better,” “should have told,” or “should have fought harder.” They “should” themselves to death over the bad behavior of other people. Without the help of therapy to gain the proper perspective, they might spend their entire lives believing that they are, at core, a bad person who is unworthy of love, respect, and fair treatment. Sick in the Head A broken person who is hurting might then try too hard to prove their worth by over-achieving, bragging or fighting for control in their relationships which is often evident in the behavior of many people in the limelight.
Hear me on this, there is nothing in this world that is satisfying enough to heal emotional wounds. Many assume that once they get married, get a degree, secure that job, have kids or buy that dream home, THEN they’ll finally be happy. Yet, as a mental health professional and a woman of God, trust me when I tell you, it does not work that way.
Restoration starts with a relationship with God who is all powerful and loves us unconditionally. With him, we can then find the courage to unlock the basement door of our souls and begin to unpack the bags we’ve kept hidden there. With professional help, we can start working through the core issues that have driven us to depression, anxiety, negative thinking, reckless behavior, and poor choices. If you continue to run, you’ll eventually hit a brick wall or fall over the cliff. Sooner or later, there will be nowhere else to hide, so please just be still enough to seek God, acknowledge your pain, and get help. This is the only ‘hide and seek’ that can eventually lead to your healing.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”