#WellnessWednesdays is truly about wellness. Not just the physical wellness, but mental and spiritual wellness as well.

In honor of Women’s History Month, and in celebration of the many black women of trans experience, black queer women, and the black women who are our allies and sisters within our community, This #WellnessWednesday is dedicated to Marnina Miller, an amazing mental health and social activist in the Houston area. Marnina, an out and proud black queer woman, practices sex and body positivity through her community leadership and facilitation not just in the Houston area, but across the country.

1. Describe your childhood and how mental health was incorporated into it?

As a child my parents made sure to keep us involved in various after school activities. They allowed us to be inquisitive about everything. My sister and I could ask any question we wanted to nothing was off limits. I know this may not seem like a lot but in many homes, children are submissive little people who should be seen and not heard. This is farthest from the truth. This type of thinking can be detrimental to a child’s psyche. Kudos to my parents for allowing me to be inquisitive and creative.

2. What is the most important mental health lesson you gained from your childhood?

When my parents divorced after almost 20 years of marriage I was devastated. To grow up in a 2-parent household your whole life, and your parents announce they are splitting up seemed unreal to me at the time. I was a senior in high school, and I thought their relationship was perfect. In hindsight I can see that they did their best to shield me and my sister from their marital issues. However, their divorce still impacted us, and my mother made sure we attended counseling sessions. It was my first time seeing a mental health professional. This allowed for me to be able to express myself in a healthy way. It also let me know that therapy is nothing to be ashamed of. So, as an adult I have no shame in seeking help from mental health professionals.

3. What are some of your favorite self-care practices?

I am a self-care fanatic. I make sure to give myself at least an hour of self-care daily 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night. I wake up in the morning and I will immediately drink water and get straight to my I am statements. It’s the best way for me to affirm myself and my QUEENDOM. I get in the mirror and say: I am LOVE. I am BEAUTY. I am JOY. I am PEACE. I am WEALTYH. I then light my scented candles, go in to my 20-minute skin care routing and play with my cat Egypt for 10 minutes before I leave my house. For me its small daily things like this that allow me to pamper myself and feel good about to skin I’m in.


4. How does the intersection of being black, queer, and femme affect your mental health journey?

As a queer black femme person living in a larger body, I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of fatphobia, misogynoir, homophobia, and racism that I have encountered within my existence on this Earth. I think Malcom X said it best in 1962, “The most disrespected woman in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman. The same came be still said about the black woman today. Its super disheartening at times and can be damaging to a person’s self-esteem and self-worth. However, I have an amazing health care team that consist of a therapist and physiatrist that make sure I can live my best life while facing this cruel world head on.


5. How related do you feel your work, centered around ending HIV and the stigma surrounding it, includes mental health?

You cannot unlink Mental Health and Physical Health. The lack of access to mental health services can make someone more suspectable to an HIV diagnosis. I make it a point to always talk about me going to therapy, me being a vital part of my health care plan. I also recently decided to allow folks to know that I take an antidepressant to kill some stigma around mental health treatment. While I am always down to stomp the HELL out of some HIV Stigma I want to help folks before they even get an HIV diagnosis. It’s time for us to start talking about the social determinates of health so that we can prevent folks from even receiving an HIV diagnosis.

6. How has the importance of mental health changed for you over the years?

As my responsibilities have grown, I have realized how important it is to have a mental health plan that consist of self-care, a health care team, and a rest day (I take Sundays to do NO WORK, NO ADVOCACY, TOTAL REST). I now understand how important it is to take care of your holistic health. We always talk about diet and exercise for your physical body but what about your emotional and mental wellbeing? Those are important as well.