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Not Your Ordinary Parts

Guest Contributor: Jalon Johnson

Firefighter & Paramedic

Podcast Host, Not Your Ordinary Parts

When asked, “What would you like us to know about you?” Jalon states the following:

I have always been sensitive and deeply emotional. Most times it was seen as problematic or as a weakness; but I never shied away from knowing there was something to feeling my feelings even while not knowing how to navigate those uncharted waters. I knew that I wasn't "living" per se, but I was more so adapting to a set of standards that didn't serve me, that those before me may have needed to survive. My parents and their parents did an amazing job with the tools that they had and with all the disadvantages that they were faced with, not many would've made it, but they did.

In something I wrote I mentioned that I felt what was passed down to me weren't instructions on how to live but more so a poorly written survival manual for life just coming out of slavery that had never been updated. Those rules couldn't help me because they were written for a world that no longer existed. I know now that trauma has affected and shaped me and everyone who came before me on a level so deeply and that I may be the first one in my lineage with the tools to do something different. Because unprocessed trauma can be passed down in our DNA for seven generations; as a tribute to those who came before me and in recognition of all that they sacrificed to give me an opportunity to have a voice and continue what they started; I got it from here.

What does Black Mental Wellness mean to you?

It means understanding that I'm allowed to be me and feel safe and seen in my authenticity because I understand that I'm not lesser of a person because of the color of my skin.

How do you promote change and well-being in the Black community?

I have a podcast where I interview therapists and discuss all things mental health. The theme of my podcast and my life is “A Black man determined to get vulnerable, feel his feelings, talk about his emotions, healing, and inspire others to do the same.” I want to write a new manual that I pass down that doesn’t include coping and survival mechanisms that perpetuate old unhealthy habits rooted in trauma and surviving. I want to live and thrive and do so in a way that allows space for authenticity, healthy boundaries, vulnerability, and being comfortable having honest tough conversations even if it means ruffling some feathers. I also continue to reach out to mental health professionals to provide tools to normalize therapy and have conversations about mental health.

What are your recommendations for ending stigma in the Black community?

Having conversations that allow for safe vulnerable exchanges. I write about my journey, share it publicly, and I started a podcast where I interview and have conversations with therapists about literally all the things. All the difficult conversations, uncomfortable topics, and things that I’ve needed answered to for so long that have kept me limited in my growth.

Do you have an experience with seeking mental health treatment that you would like to share with the Black Mental Wellness audience?

I started therapy scared out of my mind because I had never felt safe or comfortable telling my story. I didn't think I deserved, and I felt my life experiences were just normal based on what I had seen growing up. I've learned so much and have had such an overwhelming experience on my healing journey and I wish everyone who wants something different or wants more would give themselves the gift of therapy.

What wellness strategies do you think should be given more attention within the Black community? Are there any reasons why you think they are not given more attention?

Talking about our feelings and working through generational trauma. It's always been the custom to "be tough" suck it up and keep it moving.

How do you make time for your own wellness and self-care?

Therapy is a staple in my life. Therapy has been life changing for me. Talking about difficult or uncomfortable things was never something I was able to do growing up. Mental and emotional health were off limits, we hovered ever so slightly just above honesty, as if being honest about your feelings was a crime. The emotionally immature adults in my life trained me to do things in a way that didn’t make them feel inadequate with things they didn’t know how to manage but robbed me of comfort and safety as a child. It became common place and normalized to smile through pain, and I learned to lie about how I felt if it wasn't positive or if not “being okay” meant that I’d require more attention. In doing so, I became so disconnected from my body and an anxious nervous wreck.

As I started my journey to get healthy mentally and emotionally, I discovered my inner child on life support desperately needing love, attention, and validation. I realized I was living a life that had nothing to do with who I truly was and that didn’t center around my needs. I was on autopilot, disconnected from my true self with a terribly dysregulated nervous system doing “what I was supposed to do” with zero authenticity. It’s hard unlearning programming to stay small and quiet but as I continue to do the work to get to me and feel safe in my body it makes me feel like I’m rewriting the manual for myself and anyone who relates to my story and wants something different.

Guest Contributor

Jalon Johnson is a firefighter and paramedic who also leads a podcast where he interviews therapists and discusses all things mental health. He indicates that while he does not have a background in psychology or mental health, he likes to say that he is establishing his background in healing. Information about podcast information can be found below:

Not Your Ordinary Parts Podcast

YouTube - Not Your Ordinary Parts - YouTube

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