Photo Cred: She Lives Deliberately 


No one wanted to admit that something could be wrong. Bad decisions based off of things that weren’t true. Voodoo, infidelity, rape, any and everything under the sun. Realistic to some isn’t realistic to everyone, including my mother. Especially the time in my life when I had to take showers with a t-shirt on. I was seven or eight years old and I would do anything my mother told me to, even if it was to hide from the cameras in the shower.

Our lifestyle didn’t seem any different from anyone else so I always assumed that our life was “normal.” The signs were always there, but one can only conceal mental illness but so much. You’re bound to slip up, say, or do something that doesn’t mesh with the “normal” that we’re all accustomed to. If someone were to ask me then, “How do you feel about taking showers with t-shirts on?” I would have given a normal response, emphasizing that it was just something that we did. If someone asked me the same question today, I’d clearly and confidently state that my mother has paranoid schizophrenia. Then, I had no idea–even after we moved out of the house that had cameras in the showers and walls. My family would always just call her crazy or say that’s just how she is. But her life decisions should have warranted more of response–a medical one.

In the same house that had cameras, another incident happened that screamed “Help me.” During this time, my mother and father were on the brink of divorce. In the car with my mother, driving from the store, she screamed and cried at my father. I honestly can’t remember what was said the entire car ride, or when we got home, but I do remember the following. My mother had a gun, a rifle to be exact. My father was terrified of what she would with it. By the time we got home, I vaguely remember sitting in the living room and seeing the police arrive. They escorted my mother out of her house in handcuffs after she had been crying hysterically. I was terrified at this point too. One of the police officers came over to talk to me and told me that they were just taking my mother on a trip and that everything would be ok. My father arrived and I knew he had called them. I was so upset that he would actually call the police on my mother that I blamed him for everything that happened following my mother’s arrest. She was placed in a psych ward for about two days for depression and to my knowledge, it would take five years for her to get an official diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia –five years.

So I could go on and on explaining, describing, and painting the many situations that involved my mother but that’s not my M.O. These situations happen to so many people, more specifically black people. For some reason, mental health has not always been a “thing” for black people. Family members were always just “funny.” If this doesn’t include your family then great, but it sure enough has been the case for mine. No one thought that maybe the chemicals in my mom’s brain could have been a tad imbalanced, or that therapy could have been the help that she needed. But how could they know? If they had known, would they have had the proper treatment resources? Don’t get me wrong, I adore my family and understand that they did the best that they could. I absolutely adore my father as he definitely did the best he could. And in no way am I bashing my family for really anything at all.

I’m urging anyone who knows of  a struggling person to reach out and try to help. Sometimes, people are just interesting, but in other cases, help is needed, and there could be something more–something treatable. Today, my mother is doing just fine with proper therapy and guided medication, so there is always hope–I mean always. So I send nothing but encouraging energy to everyone in need.

Now let’s talk about it. Have you ever known someone who seemed like they needed mental health treatment but wasn’t getting the help that they needed? Sound off in the comments, I wanna hear from you!


Written by Malika T. Benton

Malika is a creative writer, photographer, filmmaker, wife and mother from Prince George’s County, Maryland. Her life experiences have led her to become fascinated with story-telling in all capacities. She wishes to inspire, uplift, and encourage her audiences. Malika has a desire to learn and to remain teachable. In December of 2017, she graduated cum laude from Bowie State University with a B.A. in English Creative Writing and a minor in Psychology.

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