By: Karla Shaw
“…They ask me what I do and who I do it for…” – Tauheed ‘2Chainz’ Epps
I know what you’re thinking: “Did she just quote 2Chainz?!” Yes. Yes, I did. Not a nursing or psychology theorist… 2 Chainz. But, in my defense, it’s the end of the semester, finals are upon us and the only reason I am moving and shaking is (partly) because of Mr. 2Chainz. And Starbucks. Apple music? Check. Cool, now let’s get into this.
At the present moment, I am a mess Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner student. I am in my 3rd semester, and it’s proving to be the most challenging endeavor that I’ve taken on so far. And to add context, I have a toddler, a three-nager. It’s also one of the best decisions I have made. I was guided into this profession after starting my nursing career in correctional health and confirmed it when I met my husband.
After a couple employment offers, I chose the incarcerated population because I wanted to be the voice and advocate for those who needed it the most. I noticed there were a large number of people suffering from mental health disorders in jail for nonviolent/minor crimes that could have possibly been prevented with treatment and management of their illness.
Not long after that, I met my husband, who comes from a small country in central, east Africa, Burundi. His family and the surrounding Burundian/Rwandan community here in Buffalo, are made up of people who fled their home country due to war. Many of these people are traumatized and suffer silently. My husband and I attend an annual meetup of Burundians from across the country and at one roundtable discussion in Louisville, KY younger people were complaining that their parents were being unfair, unrelenting and overbearing. A young man stood up and his words were profound! One statement I’ll always remember was “You guys have to remember; our parents are suffering from trauma that they haven’t addressed or healed from”.
This is who I do it for; the vulnerable populations who need it. I am here to help reduce the stigma faced by those with mental health conditions in the community, here and abroad. My goal is to equip these individuals with the resources to amplify their voices and to be able to share their own stories to help others to seek treatment. My goal to build a global initiative and legacy that will increase awareness about mental health and the dangers of it left untreated.
Sometimes motivation can be found in the oddest of places. As I mentioned earlier, for me it comes from music, experiences, and my family/friends. But wherever it comes from, use it to propel you onward and upward. Wish me luck!