TRIGGER WARNING FOR ALL: The following post discusses mental illness and is a bit different from the usual fluffy inspirational content presented on this blog. Still, I hope it encourages someone, especially For Black Girls With Depression Like Me.
You know the weird thing about being depressed is that when you express your symptoms to others they are quick to say “You sound like you’re depressed.” Well yeah, I kinda know that already, in fact I’ve know that for quite some time. I’ve known that since I was at least 11 but the actual acceptance and understanding of it didn’t come until I became an adult. It’s actually one of those mental illnesses that you can self diagnose. Unfortunately it is also one of those words that gets tossed around kind of like love. People say it without fully understanding the depth of it.
Yeah, I am sure just about everyone has had moments where they’ve had very depressing moments or situations but that doesn’t mean they have “depression.” It’s not just a moment of “Man this *bleep* employee *bleeped* up my lunch order and now I’m mad,” or “I can’t find the right shoes to go with this super cute new outfit and it’s already 5 so I’ve gotta make a decision quick.” No, these are moments of anger that can quickly be addressed or fixed in one way or the other.
Depression, my dear friends, depression more often than not sticks with you. Depression infiltrates nearly every corner of your life. It comes and it stays. Depression always overstays its welcome.
Now for Black girls like me with depression, we grow up in this world with the stereotypical image portrayed on TV that we ought to be strong Black Women one day. Therefore, that leaves no room for us to crawl into a fetal position and have our backs rubbed with words of encouragement. Rather we are to get our asses up and do the damn thing. Although it hurts, we often can do it, so we do it. Even when it hurts. We get up. We go. And we do.
In the Black community, mental health issues are shunned, barely even talked about or simply down right swept under the rug. Everyone claims to have that “crazy uncle,” or “drunk auntie,” but no one ever sits down to discuss how those common characteristics in so many family dynamics is telling of a lot of issues we refuse to acknowledge.
You ever stopped to consider why Uncle So and So stay smoking that pipe, or goes in and out of conversation with you at the family cookouts. Have you ever stopped to genuinely check on Auntie This and That while she’s sober to see what’s truly troubling her. Addictions are surefire ways of displaying that people are crying for help. We’ve got to acknowledge, explore and try our best to combat that.
For me, being a Black girl who’s ethnicity happens to be Haitian it adds on another level of assumed “strength,” and “sweeping issues under the rug.” Growing up all I heard about mental health issues was “Sa se bagay moun fou/ That is for crazy people.” No one ever TALKED about anything remotely related to mental illness unless it’s wrapped up in the ideas of mystics or simply having to “pray it away.”
Pray what away exactly? My mental illness or anyone’s for that matter cannot simply be prayed away. Yes there are studies that prove prayer helps alleviate some people’s depression by way of it being their preferred choice of coping. However, by simply praying and not exploring why that said individual is depressed to begin with is detrimental.
This brings me back to my first few thoughts, as a Black girl we aren’t allowed to be soft, expressive or much less angry. The minute we do any of these things here come the labels thrown at us claiming that we only get to be one way. We are taught by society that our skin color and sometimes depending on the shade of it (that’s another story for another day) makes us more angry than non-black girls. The minute we express ourselves whether in an excited tone or assertive one, we are instantly deemed “loud,” “angry,” or down-right “sassy.” We. Cannot. Be. Ourselves. Without. Someone. Labeling us.
The minute we attempt to soften ourselves, we are often told “You are a strong Black woman, you got this.”
But, no fuck that. Actually that shit ain’t a compliment to me, because sometimes I don’t got it. For Black Girls With Depression Like Me, sometimes we ain’t got our shit together and we just need someone to listen with no judgement. This is why when we find our “tribe” or groups of women who understand us, it is hard to break us. No one got Black women like other Black women.
So For Black Girls With Depression Like Me, Sis please understand that I hear you, I see you and I value your life so much. Maybe no one has told you this in a while but I love you, who cares if we’ve never met. I don’t care what part of the diaspora you’re from cause either way it goes the world sees your blackness and your womanhood as something negative when it should not be.
Your blackness is excellent and your womanhood is elegant. Don’t let nobody or anything let you forget that. Even that stupid depression of ours.
For Black Girls With Depression Like Me you deserve to have a space where we can kick it, we can be Black girl magical with joy all in our hearts with our hair blowing in the sun kissed winds.
As a Black Girl With Depression I know your struggle, I may not know the specifics of your own life but I know that the shit sucks. It does. I’ve tried just about everything to help it minus medicine because I do have my own views on that. BUT one thing is for sure it is possible to live through it. It gets hard, I know it does. Hell I’m living through one of those depressive seasons as we speak but I am pushing myself on the days when I see fit to do the things that bring me joy. Writing is one of those things and I hope this piece helps you sis.
Now, while I often like my posts to come with some sort of action plan or solution, honestly I don’t really have one. I have a few closing thoughts though that may be similar to an action plan so bare with me.
Black girls, we can be anything we want to be. Honestly and truly. Yes even with depression and anxiety or any other mental illness that attempts to block our excellence. I want you to find small pieces of joy even in your storm. Maybe one day you can’t get out of bed but you remember there is some wonder bread, grape jelly and peanut butter in the kitchen. Sis! Get ya ass up, toast that bread and smear them condiments onto those two slices of bread. Eat two if you have to.
Maybe PB&J ain’t your flow. Okay cool, maybe you could hit up that bodega aka corner store to pick up a bag of chips or oreos. I’m not trying to encourage you to emotionally eat BUT what I am saying is find that thing that makes you happy and use it to your advantage. Sometimes just getting up out of the bed is the most strength you can muster for that day and that’s fine.
Find your self-care and switch it up from time to time (if you want) to keep yourself excited.
For Black Girls With Depression Like Me I hope you find peace on today. I hope you find victory over your depression today. I hope that you find joy in your life.
Serenity, Smiles & Positive Vibes,