Diary of an Anxious Black Woman: The Young Mind

When I was younger, my hands would tremble and become numb when I was nervous about something. It happened right before swimming lessons, right before my least favorite English class, and especially before presentations. I would get warm, but my body would feel cold, and I would almost never be able to perform the task that brought such nervousness. Unless I truly pushed, I would be debilitated. This specific feeling followed me throughout middle school, high school, and most of my college career. It stopped me from trying out for things I was interested in, completing major assignments, and at times even attending school. I remember days where I would wake up on edge about a school day, drive to school and just turn around again because I was extremely anxious.

Something felt wrong and I just didn’t know how to ask for help. I felt helpless and let it take over my life and my capabilities. The earliest memory I had of this feeling being an obstacle and not a motivator was in 7th grade when I let myself fail my English course because I was too nervous to complete the assignment. Feelings like this usually come to me when I feel as though I won’t do something right or I’m incapable.

 Looking back at these moments now, I know that this was my anxiety showing its face in times of pressure. If I knew then what I know now, I would have addressed it so much sooner than I did. In grade school, we had programs such as Dare and units in Health science that focused on these topics, yet they never went into much depth. I believe a program like WellShare’s The Young Achievers Program (TYA) would have helped me uncover the nature of my struggles and discover solutions. TYA is a program that fills the deficits I experienced and can offer so much hope to struggling youth. 

Since 2002, TYA has prepared youth for the future by helping them develop positive social norms and leadership capabilities. Within the program, youth often role-play, learn about creative self-expression, and self-nurturing practices. TYA is dedicated to offering a support system that reflects youth participant’s own cultural background and values. Through a range of participatory assessment strategies; Imams (religious leaders), parents, community agencies, and youth shared concerns about the limited solutions to manage increasing rates of chronic stress and trauma among youth. By destigmatizing self-care practices among Somali youth, future generations will have new opportunities for wellbeing. “Teaching thousands to heal millions” is the heart of the Mind-Body Medicine training model. 

The Neefsasho Dheer (Deep Breath) program represents a small yet significant step towards collective healing and the first of its kind opportunity in the Somali community. Through a generous Marbrook Foundation grant, WellShare is delivering it’s first cohort of the Neefsasho Dheer within the TYA program this summer. This is something, I believe is necessary for the growth and development of the youth involved and something I would have loved to participate it. 

By Anat Agyei

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