Black women in psych wards.

There’s so much I could say about my experiences being caged up in different psych wards across the country. I could tell you about my first time at the ward; and how I was convinced that all white people were “devils” after reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X. I could also tell you about the numerous times I thought I was being mind-controlled through MK-Ultra; and how everyone, in my opinion, was playing some sort of sick joke on me. Or the time I looked at my nurse in the eyes and could’ve sworn I saw fire. My stories are endless. But that’s not all I’d like to focus on today.

The one thing I’m not really comfortable discussing, but I know I must, is the rate at which Black men and Black women inhibit mental health asylums. I’ve met and talked to so many Black men and women who were completely miserable, hopeless, distraught and in despair. It’s bringing tears to my eyes just thinking about them. I miss them so much, yet I don’t ever want to go back there again. They were broken. All of them. Broken by society; broken by the double-bind of being Black – and for some – women; broken by their families; just… broken. In the psych ward, I especially heard stories of Black women being used, abused and disrespected. Malcolm X really was not lying when he said the most disrespected Black woman in America is the Black woman. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. Rows and rows of buildings completely occupied with Black men and women who have “mental problems”, and additionally, are were homeless, unstable, and simply incapable of overcoming a system that has trampled over them for centuries. One of those girls, Kia, taught me the most valuable lesson in life: to be proud of who I AM.

Kia was a full blown Schizophrenic. As in, she talked to herself completely and would laugh, cry, sing and chant all day without speaking to a soul. I thought there was something deeply spiritual about that. Something profound. She spoke when spoken to, but for the most part, she was deep in her head. But every time anyone asked Kia what her name was, it was almost like she would snap out of her psychosis, and proudly say: “My name is Kia, like the car!” She’d say the “like the car” part with so much pride and emphasis, and at the time I’m not gonna lie I was slightly jealous of her being so proud of a car I didn’t consider “luxury”. It showed me that she loved herself, something that I innately struggled with. I personally never liked my first name because it sounded “too white”. So to see someone with a “mediocre” car as a name yet so proud… it left a deep impact on me, truly. Kia’s pride in herself is actually what encouraged me to go back to school. She was set to be locked up in the mental institution for at least another 3 months, yet she was so optimistic about her future that I didn’t quite understand how. She allowed me to see that it’s okay to be yourself. And now every time I see a Kia, I say a prayer for my sis.

Another girl I met was a prostitute. But she was also deranged and completely psychotic. She also talked to herself throughout the day. She didn’t speak much, but I recall her telling me she had 4 babies; children whom she would cry about practically every single moment of the day. The only time she didn’t cry about her children was when she was eating. She devoured that food as if she hadn’t eaten for months. I can still vividly picture the smudged food stains on the side of her cheeks. She was “gone for”, they said. And later she was sent to the State’s mental institution for no less than 6 months.

The most recent Black girl I met in the mental institution had one of the most beautiful names I’ve ever come across Shyheir (or some rendition of that). She was the complete opposite of the other ladies I mentioned. She was quiet and reserved. But when she opened her mouth, all she spoke of was how she wanted to die… literally. Every day, she’d ask me to read my Egyptian tarot cards to her, and every day, she’d say that she felt her demise.. her death, awaiting her. I never quite understood what she meant. But she was as serious as a heart attack every time she told me that she knew she’d die soon. I cried every single time she said that. Hoping and praying that she was going to be okay. Because even though we were virtually strangers, we were still locked up in the same institution which made us….family. I’ll never forget the day she left. The small, cold room suddenly felt even smaller, even colder.

Then there’s Anaiah. My best friend in the psych wards who had been institutionalized about 56 times total. She too had a daughter, but her daughter was being molested by her step-dad. Standing at about 6 feet, Anaiah looked like a female giant. Add her Schizophrenia to the mix and she was a walking fireball. Everyone was scared of Anaiah, including the staff. So when she asked to be my friend when we were both admitted at MeadowWood, I was honored. It felt like the “top dawg” of the class had acknowledged my existence. Anaiah loved me dearly. She gave me hugs and kisses on the forehead. It was platonic, of course, but it was also so real. She too talked about how she wanted to kill herself often.

Anyways, I have a question for you. Why do you think there are so many Black women in mental institutions?

Don’t get me wrong, there are white men and women in psych wards as well. And I’m sure they’re also going through mental health issues that should be addressed, but that brings me to my next question:

Are diseases such as Schizophrenia a disability, or are they some sort of super-power like Kanye West said.

P.s. If you’ve read this far, please let me know what you would want to read next from The Diaries of Stacy Rahaka.

Peace and prosperity,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: