Monday, July 18, 2016

Mental Health Reading List #3

Shoutout to Legos as self-care.

Howdy. First off, congrats on making it to see another Monday. You get yet another week to eat new, delicious things and work towards being a little less terrible, if you're into that sort of thing. Either way, shoutout to you or whatever. These last few weeks have been pretty emotionally draining. Mad hateration (and murders and dastardly rat bastards running for President) in the dancerie/dance soiree. The Legos pictured above were a big part of my last week's self care situation. While at a homegirl's house, I overheard her friend's four-year-old son mention going to build in the other room. One thing led to another, and I spent a while sprawled out with this awesome and ultra-polite kid, building, feeling eight all over again. (I was mildly obsessed with Legos for a spell.) And learning to not scoff or get defensive when he took sudden interest in the all-terrain vehicle I'd built — the same one he called "cool but not as cool as mine" a few minutes prior — and partially disassembled and reworked it to fit more in line with his vision of things. There were his Legos, after all. I guess.

Anyhow, here's some goodness to offset some of the foolishness. These are a few of the memorable mental health-related essays, articles, and interviews I've come across lately. Finding commonality in someone else's story cane be calming and encouraging as hell. May your week be glorious and your skin be moisturized in Saint Damita Jo's name. 
Through journaling and talking out loud, I began connecting certain dots. There were holes, large voids in my life, that needed to be filled with truth and understanding. I needed to understand the reasons why certain parts of me were off-limits. I needed to accept the genesis of the insecurities that I never let anyone see.
  • "Navigating a Mental Health Crisis and the Dreaded 911 Call" by Anissa Moody [Ebony]
So many of us have given our Black children “the talk” about interfacing with law enforcement, but it seems we have to expand that conversation with an awareness about accessing and interacting with these systems (medical, legal, law enforcement) to get help for our loved ones.
  • "Pokémon Go is reportedly helping people with their depression" by Fiona MacDonald [Science Alert]
"For a person suffering from depression or another mood disorder, the idea of exercise can be nearly impossible to contemplate, much less do," writes Grohol."For someone suffering from social anxiety, the idea of going outside and possibly bumping into others that may want to talk to you is daunting."
Tsoku Maela, “Auxin” (photo via hyperallergic.com)






















  • "An Artist Photographs His Depression to Destigmatize Mental Illness" by Kyla McMillan [Hyperallergic]
KM: That’s interesting. It’s true that not every photograph in the series screams, “I’m dealing with mental illness!” But as a whole, the series speaks to this understanding that having mental illness is something you sort of deal with silently, at least in our communities, and your viewer can understand it if they, too, are part of the club.
  • "The Brains of Anxious People May Perceive The World Differently" by Kate Horowitz [Mental Floss
The researchers also administered brain scans during the testing phase. They found notable differences between anxious and non-anxious brains. While they were focused on parsing new information, anxious people showed more activation in several parts of the brain, including the amygdala, a region associated with fear and worry. 
  • "The mental health zines filling the gaps that therapy doesn't" by Cristiana Bedei [Dazed
At the intersection of self-advocacy and grassroots activism, zines and independent magazines have become an increasingly popular resource to find alternative narratives of mental health experiences. Long before Tumblr communities and awareness-raising hashtags, DIY press has been filling the gaps of mainstream media, infiltrating voices and inputs from the blind spot.
This is the finished product, the result of our merged visions:


  • "On the Road to Self-Care, Exercising Is One Way to Stay Mentally and Physically Fit" by Dr. Imani J Walker [The Root]
Although this week was fraught with more mourning than any of us should realistically be able to deal with, hopefully you’ve been able to decompress in some way in order to maintain inner balance. If you’re like me, however, and no amount of attempts at attaining inner calm will ever be able to quench the insatiable fire inside you, don’t fear. The answer may be as simple as exercise. 
  • "How to navigate your way through life when you have anxiety" by Beth McColl [Dazed]
Anxiety is a worry that worries and worries away at you until all else seems unimportant. It’s the persistent and unshakeable feeling that something isn’t right. It’s a nauseating and undefinable feeling. Sometimes the feeling attaches itself to something tangible. What if I screw up at work? What if I’m already screwing up? What if someone I love gets hurt? What if there’s a bomb inside a person like in that episode of Grey’s Anatomy and I have to keep my finger on it or else the hospital will explode?
  • "Mental Health Resources For Black Teens" by Britt Julious [Vogue]

    I would suggest sharing that you are dealing with a lot of emotions and would like to speak with a therapist. This may be met with some resistance and questions, but stand firm with stating you need to talk with someone, and not someone who is in the family,” Hill says.
  • "[Black Mental Health Awareness Month] Darryl McDaniels Talks Suicide" by Terrence Chappell [Ebony]
Depression doesn't act as in containment. It infiltrates. When Darryl found out he was adopted, he felt alone. Darryl contemplated suicide and drinking was how depression manifested itself in his life. It was Darryl’s wife, Zuri, who challenged him to confront his demons head-on. 
And if ye need even more:  Reading List #2 | Reading List #1

Taddow.

I also briefly interviewed the young engineer about the best thing he's ever made:

A video posted by alexander hardy (@coloredboy) on

Part two of the exclusive interview

(Also, I have a wonderful podcast called The Extraordinary Negroes where I discuss life and current events and chicken and mental health and sex and fuckery and all sorts of awesome uplifting and terrible and blackety black things with my homeboy Jay Connor and some magical guests and you should totally listen to it. You're so pretty.)

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Episode 5 of The Extraordinary Negroes: "Dollar Dollar Bill, Y'all" (feat. Tiffany "The Budgetnista" Aliche)


So, we are five episodes into this podcast situation I co-host with Jay Connor, The Extraordinary Negroes. We are finally getting our rhythm down, findout out what works for us, and making sure to have a good ass time while recording. The podcast has been a good creative outlet, and I'm elated to be doing this with Jay (with whom I co-wrote a blog series called "Across The Aisle") because translating our energy from the page to a show format has been surprisingly easy and I can't think of many people I'd want to do this with. And we finally got a damn website: The Extraordinary Negroes Internet Residence Thing. Good times.


Anyhow, on episode five we invited personal finance educator Tiffany "The Bugetnista" Aliche for an awesome conversation about money, discussing finance and bills with kids, her keynote speech at the 2016 Essence Festival, and how she's helping thousands get their credit and pockets together with her #LiveRicher challenge and her Live Richer Academy. And Jay campaigns tirelessly for birthday gifts (July 20).

Get more of Tiffany: The Budgetnista | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Live Richer Academy

Listen below (Soundcloud), or via iTunes, Google Music, Mixcloud, TuneIn, and Stitcher. You're so pretty.


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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Here's What The F*ck I Think (featuring Darnell Lamont Walker)


A few weeks back, I held an event called Colored Boy and Friends: Mental Health Awareness Edition at the Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center in Washington Heights. Yes, those Heights. The featured guests (or "Friends," because I'm so clever) at my literary showcase and conversation series situation were multimedia journalist Bené Viera, playwright and filmmaker Donja R. Love, and audio producer and founder of Bondfire Radio Keisha Dutes. I talked to each of them about their wonderful work, their mental health journeys, and how that journey has influenced their work (and vice versa). And I shared a cautionary tale about the good and terrible encounters with macaroni and cheese here in New York, which you can read over at Very Smart Brothas.

Mucho merriment y cackling and lots of feelings and such.

But as my objective was to center and amplify conversations around our mental and emotional wellness in an entertaining, approachable, engaging way, it was important to purge and cleanse my spirit, for self-care purposes of course.

And so I called on filmmaker, world traveler, and wild person Darnell Lamont Walker, pictured above, to join me for a cathartic ran moment called "Here's What The Fuck I Think" so that I could cuss and talk shit and ramble a bit. We went back and forth, taking turns getting shit off our chest. It went like this:

Alex: One. Fruit Punch is Stupid.

Darnell: Two. Plies is the greatest rapper alive.

Alex: Three. Dear person who sees me standing in front of an illuminated elevator button and comes up and pushes the button again:

I need you to understand than your finger is not more powerful than mine. Not even white privilege can make the elevator come faster. Please die. Thank you very much. 

Darnell: Four. The second slut gaming became a thing, being a hooker and stripped became just as honorable as being a philosopher.

Alex: Five. Not enough people in this world understand that where macaroni and cheese is concerned, cheese is NOT a seasoning. More on this later

Darnell: Six. I've started seriously speaking to kids about drugs. I learned they usually have better connections. 

Me, saying, with my eyes, "You really just said that." Darnell, responding with a smile: "Yup."
Alex: Seven. Fact: Chance The Rapper's Coloring Book is 81 million hundred dozen times more enjoyable than Kanye's The Life of Pablo in every imaginable way. 

Darnell: Eight. I don't know how to feel about the fact that I cried harder when thomas jay on my girl died than I did for my favorite uncle. 

Alex: Nine. Dear Rachel The Racial Stowaway,
You can wear box braids or have a mulatto chile named Langston,
you can wear raggedy Marley twists or throw black power fists, 
you'll never be more than a wankster. 

You can have Ashy knees or a scalp to grease with your obnoxious white woman steelo on fleek; 
You can throw rap hands and Harlem Shake and twerk, stop harassing my soul, I beseech. 
Your blackness is as authentic as mofongo made by Rachel Ray. 
Fuck off. 

Darnell: Ten. At this point, any man with colored contacts and/or an s-curl is a pedophile.

[applause and panties rained from the sky]

And then Bené Viera jumped out her seat and felt compelled reflect on her and Darnell Lamont Moore's journey as working creative folk. Great times.



Hopefully, I can make the next Colored Boy & Friends happen in September sometime.

Check out Darnell Lamont Walker's work:
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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Mental Health Reading List #2


Reading "Dancing Granny" and "Amazing Grace" to this awesome group of well behaved chirren was an act of self-care.

As summer approaches and folks run themselves ragged in pursuit of that summer body, don't forget to take some time to work on getting/keeping you mind right. Self-care. Reading. Sleeping. Twerking for cardiovascular purposes. Journaling. Drinking water. Avoiding rabid Trump supporters. All of that. There is great power in reading and relating to someone else's journey, so I figured I'd gather some more of the great, moving, informative pieces I've read on mental illness, trauma, struggle, and healing lately. Here is some more soul food to help you on your journey. Pass it on.
  • HBO actor Michael K. Williams says his acting idol's ‘mental illness’ led him to attack Bronx woman, blames health, prison system for no 'proper treatment' [NY Daily News
Williams, 49, said Nash’s woes began at age 22 with the death of his mother, sending him into a schizophrenic spiral that started with his arrest for trying to steal a car while wearing only his boxer shorts.
 Nash returned home in worse shape than when he went in, with several of his teeth knocked out while behind bars on Rikers Island. Nash was eventually arrested 19 times, and was released from prison in July after a nine-year sentence for bribery and drug possession. 
“The addicts belong in drug treatment,” said Williams. “And the mentally ill belong in a hospital, not in jail. (by Larry McShane)
  • The Crisis Text Line Is an Anonymous, 24-hour Counseling Service  [Life Hacker]
The goal of the Crisis Counselor is to move people from a “hot moment” (like wanting to inflict harm onto themselves or others) to a “cool moment,” keeping them safe and healthy. They do so through active listening, empathy, and respect. (by Stephanie Lee)
  • Melissa Harris-Perry: I've Failed, Over and Over Again [Elle]
I am no rookie when it comes to failure, but during the past decade, my failures have been more spectacular because they have been more public. Once I began to pursue part of my professional life firmly within the public realm, I abdicated a luxury I had not even realized I previously enjoyed—private failure. It is not as though I suffer Kardashian-level scrutiny, but I have been on the receiving end of mean-spirited needling and bloodthirsty frenzies after minor stumbles and serious screw-ups. Public failure by women is gourmet fare for trolls. (by Melissa Harris-Perry)
  • Why We Need to Talk About Racism as a Mental-Health Trigger [Mic]
I lay awake many nights envisioning the faces of black people no longer alive and full of questions about what black people need to do to keep from being killed. There were days when I tried to shed tears that could no longer be shed. 
Mentors encouraged me to find a way to calm my rage. They told me to rest. They stressed the need for self care during stressful moments. (by Darnell Moore)
  • My Husband Died by Suicide, but Died From Depression [The Mighty]
Sometimes after trying a new medication or therapy there would be a day or two of a change in his mood or outlook, but eventually he’d quietly break the news to me it wasn’t working.   
Often with tears in his eyes he’d say, “Honey the blackness is back… I’m so sorry” like it was his fault the depression wasn’t lifting.
That’s part of the problem with the disease of depression. For those who are suffering from it, there is always a tinge of self-blame. (by Marlin Collingwood)

A photo posted by The Black Joy Project (@theblackjoyproject) on


  • This brilliant activist is helping Black people find joy — one Instagram photo at a time [Revelist]
It's called #TheBlackJoyProject, conceived by writer and dreamer Kleaver Cruz. The 27-year-old activist started photographing fellow activists, writers, and other dope Black folks about six months ago, asking them one question: How do you define Black joy? (by Evette Dionne)
  •  You feel like shit: An interactive self-care guide [Jace Harr]
This is meant to be an interactive flow chart for people who struggle with self care, executive dysfunction, and/or who have trouble reading internal signals. It's designed to take as much of the weight off of you as possible, so each decision is very easy and doesn't require much judgment.
He figured it would be similar to getting someone to take a look at a knee injury. Ngongang has good insurance through his work as a consultant for NGOs in Washington. So he opened up his insurance company’s website, typed in “psychologists,” and started calling. 
And calling. And calling. (by Olga Khazan)
  • No, it’s not you: why ‘wellness’ isn’t the answer to overwork [The Conversation]
Nothing can alleviate the stress of overwork except working less. Like the road signs say, only sleep cures fatigue. We need to be reminded of this because tired long-haul drivers can be deluded into thinking that coffee, a can of Mother or an upbeat bit of music might help them stay awake. For the madly overworked, we need reminding that the only cure for working too much is to stop. It’s as simple as that. (by Zoë Krupka)  
  • Why I had to escape my Ivy League life and disappear [NY Post]
I  found out I was a missing person on May 14.  
I had been ignoring the avalanche of calls and texts from friends and family asking where I was and if I was OK. But that night I caved, turned on my phone and decided to look. (by Nayla Kidd)

Stay tuned for more...

Check out my mental health-related work and writing here.

Let's keep the party going: The Colored Boy Store | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

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Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Extraordinary Negroes, Episode 2: "We Fall Down" (feat. Nickolas Gaines)



On episode two The Extraordinary Negroes, my podcast with el señor Jay Connor, my brilliant, writing-ass full-time Negro co-host, we invited Sir Nickolas Gaines, to the party.

The important stuff:

Nickolas Gaines wants our people-us to heal. And he wants to make sure that it's glorious. Nickolas is a Mental Health Practitioner. He is the Suicide Prevention Program Director for the Department of Defense, serving over 11,000 Soliders across 26 states, their family members, and Department of the Army Civilians. He oversees education/training, program implementation, policy development, and counseling. He also works for PREP Inc. as an Educator who teaches, facilitates workshops, and develops curriculum on family resiliency, relational health, masculinity, and fatherhood. When he's not working he's loving his family, eating good food, listening to Beyonce, maintaining his edges, and being mad that his spin class has all the wrong music. Nickolas judges you by how soft the cookies are in your banana pudding and your ability to clap on 2 and 4. You can find more of his work and/or musings at nickolasgaines.com

In short, he's a superhero.

We rapped about everything from the mental and emotional stress of multiple deployments on service members and MJB's questionable vocals to suicide prevention training and resources for service members returning home.

We also learned about what he sees and deals with on a daily basis in his work as a mental heath worker,  and discussed Nick's foodie experiences as one of four free Negroes in Salt Lake City, Utah (Spoiler alert: Blandtown, USA)

AND The Extraordinary Negroes is now available on iTunes, Soundcloud, and Stitcher. 


Listen, subscribe, and tell a friend or 50.

Check out episode 1: "Beyoncé is Bacon," featuring Panama Jackson and Damon Young of Very Smart Brothas.com.

Follow us on Twitter (@TheExtraNegroes), Instagram (@TheExtraordinaryNegroes), and Facebook (The Extraordinary Negroes).

You're so pretty.

Let's keep the party going: The Colored Boy Store | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

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