Uzoma F. Chibundu on what led him to become a therapist, and why he’s proud to have Black men on his client list.
In Philly, as in most inner cities, things would go down after school. I used to have panic attacks every time the bell rang. You were either fighting somebody, somebody was fighting you, or you were fighting because your friends were fighting. I wasn’t able to sleep, I had terrible headaches, and I struggled every day with this crippling fear of being killed. Finally, in my sophomore year of high school, I told my mom (who’s a healthcare professional) that I was having headaches and dealing with insomnia. She said, “It sounds like you should see a therapist.” So I went, and not only did it help me cope with what I was going through, but it sparked an interest in becoming a therapist myself. I thought it seemed dope to get paid to help others live their life.
Later, during my junior year of high school, a forensic psychiatrist visited during Career Day — and he was a Black man. In my neighborhood, I wasn’t used to seeing Black men have careers, and here was a Black man pursuing something that I wanted to do. Listening to him speak allowed me to see myself outside of my neighborhood and encouraged me to start focusing on my future.