I am excited to introduce you to Ashley the creator of Black Girls Have Anxiety Too Podcast. She created this podcast a few years ago to create a safe space for Black women to talk about their mental health journeys. This podcast is insightful and helpful to know that you are not alone.
My name is Ashley Gayle. I grew up in Las Vegas and now live in Tampa, FL with my husband and 2 fur babies. I’m a former professional basketball player turned Project Manager and Podcaster. I host a mental health and wellness podcast called Black Girls Have Anxiety Too where we focus on education and creating a space for Black women to talk about their journeys with their own mental health. My passion lies in holding space for Black women to have conversations that promote healing and spread education within our community.
“Destigmatizing mental health within the Black community is such a necessary step towards healing generations of trauma and giving new generations the tools and education they need to take control of their mental wellness.”
“I guess knowing you’re weak is when you’re really being strong” -Common (rapper & actor)
How did you come up with the idea to start Black Girls Have Anxiety Too?
I was having a conversation with my friend Dominique back in 2020 about all of the chaos that was happening. She’s someone that has always been open and upfront about her mental health. She actually was one of the first friends I’ve had whom I’ve been able to openly talk to her about my own mental health. Dominique and I were having one of our heart-to-hearts. We started talking about how hard it was trying to manage working (or not working), the constant influx of information, the back-to-back reports of police violence against black people, and the pervasive images of black death that seemed ever-present on every single form of media. The murder of George Floyd had just occurred at the start of the summer and it was a disturbingly controversial topic in conversations in almost every setting.
Did I mention that we were also in the middle of a panorama at that time? And by panorama, I mean the COVID-19 pandemic that was sweeping through the world and stealing lives left and right. Needless to say, both of our anxiety meters were off the charts. Mid-conversation, Dominique blurted out “People need to know, Black Girls Have Anxiety Too.” And the podcast was born. We hit the ground running from there.
How has openly discussing anxiety and sharing others’ experiences impacted your journey of understanding and healing?
I knew when this podcast journey started that I wanted to learn more about mental health but I did not realize how much sharing the space with other black women telling their stories would change me. I have learned to have grace with others and in turn, have been giving myself and those I love most more grace. My guests have taught me the true meaning of healing with intention. Whether it’s a conversation with a psychologist or heart-to-heart with someone struggling with depression, I have learned that healing takes work, it takes a community, and it takes action. I’ve also learned that healing journeys are like snowflakes, everyone’s journey looks different and every journey is valid.
What are you the most excited about for 2023?
Whew! 2023 is going to be great because of so many reasons! I’ve been working on simultaneously accepting myself where I’m at while still being motivated to do more. It’s a very weird balance that can get really lopsided at times. This is the first year in a long time where I brought the year in with self-love. Yes, the cliche, TikTok trendy, self-love. From my body and the physical space I take up in this world all the way to my podcast and the content I create, I love myself for all of it. So I’m excited for a year of living with consistent unapologetic self-love!
I’m also super excited to share some amazing new episodes with incredible guests this year! I’m officially switching to dropping episodes weekly instead of biweekly which is slightly frightening and overwhelming but I’m doing it! My content is getting a facelift this year and you’re going to be seeing more of me in front of the camera…which is also very frightening! I’m also going to be releasing visual episodes and content on Youtube which I’m really excited about!
On another note, my husband and I did something a little crazy and signed up for the Frontier All-You-Can-Fly passes. They kick off in May so I’m super excited about traveling a LOT more this year, working remotely from really cool places, and doing some live, in-person episodes.
What is one routine or habit you developed that you have to do every day?
I take a walk around the lake by my house every day. Well, almost every day. I work from home so during the week, I make sure to take a break from staring at a screen alone in my office and go for a walk. The walk around the lake takes about 15 minutes to walk all the way around and it’s about .5 a mile full circle. I’m blessed to live near a lake where nature flourishes. There are cute little ducks, turtles, lots of birds, stray cats, and of course, gators. It wouldn’t be Florida if there wasn’t a gator in your backyard. My walks reconnect me back to the real world and back to nature, even if it’s just for a brief, brisk walk. It’s also a beautiful time to reconnect with my husband when he joins me on the days when he works from home. It’s a break from being on our phones and we can just talk, uninterrupted, or just walk in silence. I really love my nature walks. It is something that is essential for my mental health.
What has been the biggest lesson learned from your guest or through experience since starting Black Girls Have Anxiety Too?
The biggest lesson I’ve received thus far on my journey hosting the Black Girls Have Anxiety Too podcast is learning to listen. I come to every episode prepared with a slew of questions, stats, and quotes in a gridded outline conveniently organized in a neat Google folder. My life is organized to a “T”, hence the need to control and of course, the anxiety. I’m not ashamed to say that organization and excel spreadsheets bring me joy! Well, when I first started interviewing people, I had a goal for the episodes and that was to get all of the answers to all of my questions. All of the things I thought the listener needed to hear. Then, I went and listened to interviews on Youtube. I remember watching an interview with Issa Rae and I remember these semi-uncomfortable pauses and awkward spaces. I wondered “Why weren’t they just moving on to the next question already!!” Queue the impatient, Type A, Capricorn energy. Then came Issa’s answers. Yes, she answered the questions but the space the interviewer created for her allowed for the conversation to just flow into really special moments. After that, I promised myself that I wouldn’t be afraid of the silence, the awkward pauses, the unplanned questions, and the opportunity for moments that are completely out of my control. I started giving my guests space and the difference was damn near palpable. The conversations, especially those over the past year, have expanded and stretched into new, exciting, vulnerable, and sometimes tear-jerking territories. So many powerful pieces of my healing have happened in these moments.
What is the impact you want to/ are making within the mental health community?
I truly believe that education and storytelling is power. I want to empower Black women with the tools and information to make informed decisions about their mental health and their own personal roads to healing. Despite the taboos around mental health, I want them to know that they aren’t alone in their struggles. Not only is healing available but we are worthy of it. We are worthy of being mentally well. We are worthy of choosing ourselves. We are worthy of asking for help. We are worthy. And we don’t have to do it alone.
If one black woman listens to an episode of Black Girls Have Anxiety Too and it helps her find her way through a tough situation, gives her the courage to ask for help, or provides insight on something she went through 30 years ago, then I feel like I’ve done some good in this world.
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