“So many ideas. I have got to pick just one for this article. Articles…where did I put our Articles of Incorporation? Why is a piece of clothing also referred to as an article? Okay, focus Alyson. C’mon you can do it. Why do wizards need to use a focus to cast spells sometimes? Focus! It’s Black History month. I’m Black. Er…and I have history? Yeah, awesome start. Try again.


Okay, let me try to breathe. Think about the ocean. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Connect. Breathe in. Breathe out. Connect. Breathe in. Breathe out. Feel. Breathe in. Breathe out. Stillness. Breathe in. Breathe out.”




I am going to share some deeply personal things about mental health. Why? Because I can and because I should. I’ve actually been wanting to do this for a while, so here we go.


I love being Black. I love my culture. I love our history.  I love the way we laugh, the way we can find joy and humor in any situation, the way we rise up over and over. We are resilient. We are fighters. We are exuberant and celebrate anything. We know what the true Happy Birthday song is. We sing. We dance. We use seasoning. We are strong. So very, very, strong. And we are silent. We are silent about our mental health. Silent about our pain. Silent about our need for help. Muzzled by shame and fear of stigma, fear of weakness, we carry enormous burdens in silence. 


But it doesn’t have to be that way. Strength comes in so many forms. Speaking up is strength. Crying is strength. Feeling emotions is strength. Asking for help? That is strength, courage, bravery, and so many other wonderful things. We do not have to be ashamed of asking for support. It is OKAY not to be okay. Name these unspoken things and put them out in the open. We can do this together. I’ll start.


Hi. My name is Alyson Iman Showell LaPorta. I am 43 years old. I am proudly neurodivergent. I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Inattentive Type. That first paragraph is how my brain works and how I sometimes struggle to slow down my thoughts. Mindfulness and meditation help SO much with that.  I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 35. The diagnosis changed my life and answered many questions. I also have chronic Major Depressive Disorder that can be really hard to treat and makes life incredibly difficult at times. I also have an enormous amount of trauma, resulting in Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am actually still unpacking trauma and making new discoveries. I go to therapy every week. I’ve been in therapy off and on (mostly on) since I was 27. I take medication. I see a wonderful, wonderful human being of a psychiatrist. And you know what? All of it has made my life so much better. I’m a mom to wonderful twin boys. I’m a wife. I’m a homeowner. I love my job. I am present. I am all of these things primarily because I manage my mental health. It is certainly not easy, by any means, and I take one day at a time.


Advocating for mental health support in the Black community is so important and I am grateful for this platform to share about it. We do not have to walk this journey alone.


So if you are so moved, I invite you to say this with me: “I am resilient. I am a fighter.  It is okay to ask for help. I am not weak. I am not alone. And I am proudly Black.”

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