When I heard about Lashanda Armstrong, the 25-year-old single mother of four (!) driving herself and her children into a watery grave, I couldnâ€™t help but feel pity for her. First, because this woman was obviously suffering from untreated mental illness. As a woman who has had my own struggles with General Anxiety Disorder, I know how pain, stress, no help and four needy children can cause a mother to go to the brink.
â€œItâ€™s hard for women to seek the mental health they need. And when you have four kids, when do you get the time to seek help? Itâ€™s hard for a lot of people who have to work and take time off to see a doctor. And if youâ€™re poor, you donâ€™t have that option. Access and availability to quality healthcare is key.â€ says Danielle Belton, founder of the popular blog, Black Snob, and managing editor at TheLoop21. Belton has spoken openly about her bipolar disorder in an effort to de-stigmatize mental illness in the black community.
That said, letâ€™s not act brand-new about the struggles black women go through raising children with no protection, support, or commitment. This woman had four kids by age 25, the oldest she bore presumably at 15, with three others by a man whom she forever fought with because he kept cheating, cheating, and cheating.
The one silver lining in this cluster-cuss was that her oldest son, ten-years-old, was able to escape, but not without Armstrong, in her last minutes of life, trying to grab at his pants to ensure he stayed down in that abyss with her.
Armstrong and her three childrenâ€™s father were not married. Nor should they ever had been. The relationship should have never happened in the first place, and somebody should have told her that she was worth a damn.
â€œFor Lashanda Armstrong, it was the perfect storm for emotional and family problems. Her storm consisted of being a single mother at such a young age of so many children, perhaps not yet hormonally-balanced after her last pregnancy, and a cheating boyfriend. Any one of these problems can get so intense for a mother that her mood can overwhelm her common sense and judgment. Lashandaâ€™s situation speaks to the often insurmountable problems of single parent-hood, no father, domestic disputes, lack of trust in their partner (for good reasons) and ultimately feeling resourceless,â€ says Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, nationally-recognized psychologist and licensed clinical social worker specializing in womenâ€™s relationships, and runs the site, www.lovevictory.com, which contains a body of research about why women are smart about work but not love.