Updated: Oct 1, 2020
The last seven months have redefined our lives completely. Our routines have been altered, our understanding has been challenged, and our fears are continually making themselves visible. With our environment in a state of fluctuation, how do we ground ourselves to find peace? How do we honor the emotions that we feel day-to-day? How do we clear our minds and create space for healing?
We sat down to ask Ania Brown, author of the self-reflection journal titled "100 Thoughts of Wisdom", to share her perspectives on mental health within the Black community, how Black women have inspired her writing, and her strategies for navigating growth and healing.
DB: So, let's jump right into it! Why did you choose to write about mental health? Explain the importance of the subject to you.
AB: I chose to make a self-reflection journal because since I was very young, I struggled with self-identity and self-forgiveness. Because this was such a very heavy subject for me, I knew that when I decided to write my first book, that had to be its purpose.
To, in some way, begin a journey to mental healing. You cannot begin to heal unless you have acknowledged what it is that needs to be healed; this journal is exactly that. It is for your self-reflection. It is for you to see yourself and understand who you are.
DB: Wow, so raw and beautifully said. Thank you! Could you share your perspectives on the Black communities' approach to mental health disorders and treatment?
AB: It is very disheartening to see the lack of awareness within our community regarding mental health, but I will say now, more than ever, it is being acknowledged a little more every day. I often feel like we tend to push it back or not talk about it, especially in our households.
"Allowing us to be able to begin those conversations is so important."
Creating organizations and initiatives that prepare our children and grandchildren to not start acknowledging that they suffer from mental illnesses in their 30s or 40s. It can be taught when we are children to honor and respect their emotions.
DB: Absolutely! I love so many of the IG mental wellness pages; they all bring a needed element to the conversation. I agree. Mental health awareness starts in childhood; our emotional environments need to be healthier. What strategies do you provide for growth in your journal?
AB: When I wrote each question, I wrote them in ways that forced us to think, and I feel like, whenever the reader reads a question, they can elaborate more within themselves. For instance, a question may ask, "Am I at peace with my mistakes?" This allows them to acknowledge whether they are or are not and begin taking the necessary steps towards achieving that goal. I feel like each question is a strategy that can be used to get to where we need to be.
DB: Interesting! Do you have any favorite Black women authors? If so, how did they inspire your writing?
AB: I love Monica McKayhan's Indigo Summer Series (I was obsessed with them in middle school), Pat Smith's Second Chances (I read this entire book in 24 hours. Yep, it was THAT good!) – and the legendary Oprah Winfrey. All these women inspired me so much, especially Pat Smith. Her book Second Chances was all about self-reflection, healing, and honoring yourself and your experiences; our books discuss the same subjects.
DB: Yes, there is no stopping a good book. I feel you! That is why Black women must be represented; our stories free each other. Lastly, what have you learned in the process of writing, and what impact would you like your journal to have?
AB: I have always struggled with self-identity, but when I was writing this book, I felt like I could express exactly who I was within the questions. I absolutely did not expect that to happen. I found so much of who I was and why I am here on this earth in writing this book – that has been the greatest thing ever.
My only hope is that this sparks something within the reader, anyone who suffers from mental illnesses, lack of self-identity, or self-awareness. I hope that they can read something that plants a seed in their hearts to reach their highest selves and understand why they were placed on this earth.
DB: Thank you for sharing so freely with us! We appreciate your words and your community so much.
AB: Absolutely, you're welcome!
Learn more about Ania here:
Ania Brown is a 20-year-old student and author, majoring in Business and Marketing at Texas Women's University. Brown began writing at 10 years old. Using her mom's office supplies, she would craft children's books to recite for family and friends. Through literary arts, she began to understand the power of words and expressions.
"I would always write, but I never realized that I could actually do it professionally. In elementary school through high school, teachers and family would always tell me that I was a great writer, and it just kind of stuck with me."
Created to help us analyze and reflect upon our lives, Brown's self-reflection journal titled "100 Thoughts of Wisdom" will be releasing September 28, 2020.
"100 Thoughts of Wisdom" is a self-reflection journal that consists of 60 questions and 40 free writing spaces.
The first 60 entries are questions that ask you about yourself, your childhood, your goals, and your intentions towards your life. The remaining 40 are free writing entries that allow you to rant, jot down ideas, or remind yourself of an event. It is intended to thoroughly express your thoughts and feelings while learning more about who you are and why you're here.
If needed, write, draw, and annotate all over this book. It is a safe space that is solely for you!