Melanin Magic and Depression, Living With Both
There's an old yet well known belief in the black community that we are somehow immune to mental illness. We're never allowed to feel "down and out". In fact, depression is not spoken of in black households. Since childhood we've been told to never seek outside help or counseling, to instead deal with any feelings on our own. At one point we've all heard the saying "What goes on in this house stays in this house". Instead of dealing with our issues, we've been taught for generations to internalize the way we feel.
Although the history of our culture and race has not been so pretty, we've still came a long way. We've endured pain, oppression, and discrimination, but still we stand tall in the midst of chaos. With hashtags such as #BlackGirlMagic, #MelaninMagic, #BlackExcellence, and #BlackLivesMatter we've begun to believe in ourselves again. Many are coming together to fight for our rights, and find meaning to life as a minority. Our men and women have become the symbol of strength, and pride. There is so much more that we have to offer besides "anger" and "attitude". When we begin to see our worth, and work on ourselves, we can overcome.
Truth of the matter is, depression does not discriminate against anyone. It is not just a "white person's illness". Depression is actually quite common to have, and it can occur at different points in our livers. Triggers can range from job loss, a breakup, birth of a child, moving, chronic stress, or having difficulty adjusting to a new transition.
Many stray away from seeking treatment for fear of being stigmatized and judged by others. I understand no one wants to be called "crazy", but get the help you need to live a happy and fulfilling life. Don't talk yourself out of it by thinking "those doctors and counselors won't understand what I'm going through." No one can walk in your shoes, but they are trained to understand diversity, and the different backgrounds of those they treat. Each profession has a code of ethics to follow, including being empathetic, honest, and non-judgmental to all clients.
When you go through the process of treatment you will learn how to overcome depression, or at the least how to function with it. You will learn what will and won't be helpful for the next depressive episode which arises. As a past provider of mental health services, I am here to say counseling does work when taken serious, and seen all the way through. If you choose to seek out treatment, be sure to finish all required counseling sessions and medication prescribed. Just because you wake up feeling better one day does not mean you should stop treatment.
I encourage anyone battling with depression, to seek outside help along with these four suggestions below. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you'll begin to see results.
Let go, and let God.
If you believe in God then you've been taught to give him your worries. Find meaning to what's going on in your life, and find a way to grow from it. Have faith that everything will work itself out in time. Believe that greater is coming.
Find your support system.
Confide in someone, let them know what's going on, and what you're struggling with. Never feel too ashamed to ask for help because we all need it at some point.
The moment you least feel like doing something is when you need to do it the most. You've got to dig yourself out of depression. You can't sit and sulk in it. There is joy outside of your circumstances if you'd just reach for it.
Remember who you are.
You are beautiful, special, magical, and dope. You are talented and loved by many. You have too much to offer yourself to stay depressed. You have a purpose here on this Earth that's waiting to be fulfilled.
If you've you struggled with depression in the past, and have overcame it, share your story below.