Life As A Swing: How Theatre Prepped Me For Ministry In A Pandemic

In most theatrical productions--particularly large format musicals--the cast consists ofleads--those who are featured the most in a showensemble members--those who support the show tremendously, providing vocals, wonderful dancing, and often, facilitating set changesunderstudies-- those who are the next in line for lead roles should the performer call out sick or have an important engagement that forces them to miss a show. Usually, understudies are also in the ensemble, so they learn their ensemble track and the lead rolestandbys--those who understudy a very prominent role in the show that's usually the lead or a major supporting character. Many times, the standbys are not in the ensemble. They just cover that one lead track and are to be at the theatre during the entire show or within 15-30 minutes of the theatre should they need to go on at a moment's noticeAnd finally, the swings
No. No, I didn't say swingers😎 ... though, I mean, nothing's wrong with that. To each …

For Colored Girls Who Aren't Afraid to Acknowledge Their Therapist, Pt. 2


A lot of people have read my earlier post (For Colored Girls Who Aren't Afraid to Acknowledge Their Therapist, Pt. 1) about being a strong black woman who unashamedly has a therapist. I've gotten a few comments like:

"Mia! You've always seemed like you had it all together! I'm surprised."

"Mia, this is my life! I've had/I'm having trouble finding a therapist too!"

"I had no idea therapy costs that much! Why won't insurance cover mental health care like they cover everything else?"

1. So, let me say this: I'm grateful to know that I am not alone in this process--that there are friends and colleagues who are doing or want to do work on themselves so that they, too, can be healthy. My generation might be deemed selfish or self-absorbed by older onlookers, but many of us are outchea tryna to cultivate the best version of ourselves--the version our families and communities expect from us. We ain't just outchea overachieving for no reason--running ourselves ragged tryna get multiples degrees only to get turned down by 72 potential employers for jobs that we were overqualified for. A family member who's in her 60's loves to suggest that millennials "have more mental health 'issues' than previous generations;" and while that complex statement may have a half ounce of truth in it, it by no means encapsulates the complexity of being a black millennial in the age of Trump--in a world where we are drowning in debt and the cost of living in the cities where many of our jobs are is climbing, rapidly.

Yes! We have issues that need to be worked out so we can dig this country out of the hole it's in and liberate our communities. Yes, we are more transparent about our issues than previous generations. Don't let anyone judge you for seeking the help you need and desire!

Ok. I'm off that soapbox.

2. Another thing: Yes, I'm put together. Although I'm quite the rebel, there's still an ounce of southern black belle in me. I still need to look like something when I leave the house. I have a reputation to uphold--a brand to maintain. I can't be preaching on the pulpit looking like what I've been through--what I'm going through. But, thanks for the compliments. Ha! Depression and mental illness have many faces. Even if you are experiencing mild depression, it still affects your heart beat, your immune system, your skin. A person may seem put together or be smiling constantly, but their body may not be processing food because that's the effect depression has on their digestive system. Stay alert. Pay attention to your friends and family. Check in with people when they cross your mind. Look beyond the outward facade. Your "hey girl, what's up?" might be the thing that saves somebody's life.

3. Lastly, insurance companies will fight you at every turn for your mental health care. They will make it difficult on purpose for you to obtain and maintain mental wellness. Don't be discouraged. Let your therapist or psychiatrist know so they can help you with the paperwork. It's their money on the line too! If they can't help you figure that shit out, you're gonna probably stop seeing them and they won't get paid!

But let's talk about it: basically, this country is built on the concept of productivity. If you are depressed to the point where you can't work--you can't produce-- insurance is going to cover the bare minimum to get you back on your feet-to get you to be "productive" on their terms. Talk therapy, which is a long-term treatment, is usually not fully covered or only covered up to a certain monetary amount because it is considered "more than you need" to get you to a productive level. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Hypnotic Therapy are short term therapies that cost less over time, but are, in my opinion, less effective treatments that don't deal with day to day struggles that may arise. Talk therapy doesn't give easy results. There are no quantifiable tools to test whether or not the "treatment" is effective in every patient. It's a very subjective treatment that manifests results differently in each person. Insurance companies do not like uncertainty or indefinite lengths of treatment. 

So here we are, emptying our savings, late on our rent, eating rice and beans all week, to help ourselves--to better ourselves in a judgmental world that doesn't take our mental health seriously ...unless it's affecting our productivity.

This. Is. Life in the 21st century as a black woman unapologetically seeking ways to better herself.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for listening. 
Be well, 
take care of yourselves, 
and let's get to freedom together.

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