“Nuh disturb mi peace” (don’t disturb my peace) is a sharp response often heard in Jamaica when someone (especially a woman) feels antagonized or harassed. This retort can be a warning, a declaration or a plea. There have been many times when “nuh disturb mi peace” would have been the most accurate way to express what I was feeling. The simplest meaning of this expression is I don’t wish to be bothered or your problems are your own don’t pass them off to me. Through philosophical lens this expression communicates a desire to maintain calm and balance in one’s life.
So how do you tell the world you don’t want to be bothered when disconnecting or unplugging seems unfathomable? In Marketing there is an expression “if you are not online you don’t exist”; this sentiment is the very reason some of us stay plugged in to all things social media, the blogs, the notifications when we really should take a break. As a black woman maintaining peace feels like a daily struggle when the news and social media are in constant competition to deliver trauma. How can you be at peace when you must deal with microaggressions in the office, profiling in your community, the feeling of “other” when you are simply trying to live. I have had to ask myself this question more times than I care to admit. I struggled with this question when the latest viral video made its rounds on the internet – a black pregnant woman was shot to death by law enforcement. To protect my peace, I refused to watch the video or read the details of the posts instead I retreated to my sanctuary and refused to face the world until it was Monday morning.
Whether or not we admit to ourselves, to friends, lovers or family; as black women we (un)knowingly suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and anxiety. PTSD is often associated with soldiers returning from combat; however studies have shown PTSD is not limited to the military. According to the Dr Angela Neal-Barnett – professor of Psychological Sciences and director of the Program for Research on Anxiety Disorders among African Americans at Kent State University – black women experience trauma directly and indirectly because of racism. We experience trauma – driving while black, shopping while black and racial microaggressions. The trauma even extends to viral videos of unarmed black women and black men being killed. Vicariously experiencing this trauma can be just as devastating as the actual trauma.
So how do we as Melanin Queens – Soul Sistas overcome PTSD and anxiety; what tools and resources do we have available? I offer 5 recommendations I rely on to maintain my peace when the world tries it’s best to disturb it.
- Withdraw from social media
- Be gentle to myself
- Focus on rest and diet
- Be grateful
- Get therapy
Withdraw from social media – when the viral videos, and twitterverse hit that nerve I take a break. Depending on how low I feel; I avoid the internet for a few hours, a day or the entire weekend. To fill this time; I catch up on sleep, some reading, a little exercise and maybe some retail therapy. I encourage you to do what makes you feel better until you can face social media and the internet again.
Be gentle to myself – I give myself the permission to feel the range of emotions when I hear the tragic news or unwittingly see a disturbing post or video. In the sanctuary that is my home, I release it all. I rage, I rationalize and I ugly cry it all out. There is nothing more cathartic than a good cry! I also have compassion for myself because there is something inside that knows this is necessary and healthy. Main stream media promotes this ideology that as a black woman I must always be strong and keep pushing even when I know I should stop. This ideology doesn’t apply to me especially in my safe space. As black women we need to create that safe space to be vulnerable and be gentle to ourselves.
Focus on rest and diet – Our sleep and diet suffer when life takes a toll and we are forced to confront or bear witness to trauma. This ought not to be. The body needs the time to heal/repair itself and a proper diet provides the right nutrients the body needs to function. That way we canrespond to situations and not react! The quality of our sleep is directly linked to the quality of our overall health. So lay your head on that pillow Queen, take your rest and eat your veggies!
Be grateful – These seems counterintuitive; but there is power in gratitude! By seeking things to be grateful for; this exercise shifts our thinking and focus from the negative to the positive. According to Hina Khan – Business and Personal Success Coach – gratitude helps us have a greater sense of well-being and helps us approach life in a more optimistic way.
Get Therapy – The stigma once associated with seeking help is not as prevalent in our community. Queens are now realizing that we don’t always have to be strong and there is nothing wrong with wanting and asking for help! Finding a therapist might be a little challenging especially if a black and female therapist are must haves. I encourage you to speak to your insurance provider to determine the type of mental health coverage your plan offers. If you do not have insurance, you can inquire if the therapist offers a sliding scale. A sliding scale is the cost of the session which varies based on determining factors such as income. There are resources such as Psychology Today where you can find a therapist near you.
My fellow Queens, we will not always have the option of declaring to the world “nuh bother mi peace”! What we will always have is the right to maintain our inner peace, to seek it out, to implement strategies that work for us. We deserve to do more than cope; we deserve to do more than survive; we deserve to thrive and live boldly in a world that tries to traumatize us at every opportunity! So as you step fiercely through life and the world tries to knock your crown – adjust it and say “nuh bother mi peace!”