Day 20: I am thankful that although I am depressed, it isn’t nearly as bad as it has been in years past.
I have battled with depression for quite some time. Although society has come a long way, there is still quite a bit of stigma among the African-American community as it pertains to mental illness.
Growing up, I have heard some of my family members say the following:
“Black folks get the blues; white folks get depressed.”
“Black don’t crack.”
“There’s no such thing as depression.”
“Depression is a white person’s disease.”
The list goes on, but those are the top four.
When you hear things like this, even if you are exhibiting symptoms, you are hesitant to get help because of the stigma associated with it. I could just write off my symptoms as a bad case of the blues, but there’s a difference between blues and depression.
Unfortunately, because of the messages of a black person, particularly a black woman, having to be strong, even if she is cracking, she can’t show it. She can’t let any other person really know because of the fear she would be judged as weak. I have had moments when I suffer in silence because there were messages ingrained in me not to break down. It’s like you don’t have permission to “not deal.”
My major argument is if depression doesn't exist, then why is there a whole segment of science as well as medication carved out for depression? There was one person I dealt with, and he asked me how I was feeling; I told him I was feeling depressed, and he’s like, “There’s no such thing as depression. You’re just being very sad.” I feel like the attitude is somewhat dismissive, and plus, he hasn't had to deal with bi-polar people. I've had to deal with three, and they are a handful whether they are on their medication or not on it.
I believe that depression is one of the diseases that go un diagnosed by the African-American community due to the shame or misconceptions. White people don’t have depression on lock; it’s just you hear about their cases a lot more because their community is more open to talking about it. They treat it like any other disease that needs curing.
I've gone un medicated for quite a while now. It was suggested to me by someone at the clinic that maybe I should attempt to get back on the medication. I did tell her that I do feel like therapy would help me more than medicine, for I don’t like feeling muted. Some of the medication I've been on not only muted waves of sadness but downplayed times when I was feeling joy. Plus, it was harder for me to write on the medication. I understood where writers were coming from—those who were diagnosed with mental illness—when they just didn't want to take the medication for it affected the vivacity in their writing.
I have yet to find a really effective therapist. The one which I did like stopped taking the insurance I was on back then, and I couldn't afford to pay for her out of pocket. All the rest of them were misses. So I would rather hold out until that program returns to the clinic.
I can’t get caught up in the sorrow. I have to do things to keep myself active. Yes, I know sleep is important, but I feel like I’m sleeping too much, even though I know the medication is causing part of it. I also know that excessive sleep is a sign that my depression is growing, and I’m trying to cut it off before it gets a bit too overbearing.
I know that SOS is dealing with his things as well, so my feeling like this couldn't have come at a worse time.
I admit I haven’t mastered how to communicate my feelings of depression without him wanting to just fix it.
There’s no way he can really fix it, per se, unless he magically comes into some extra money and is able to send me away to spend time with some of my friends and family down South without me having to feel rushed to come back and take care of things right away. Or unless I can find employment down South and be closer to home, which is ultimately where I want to be. However, that will take him further away from his mom, and with his (step) dad’s death still being fresh, I’m not sure it’s even appropriate for me to even re-mention my yearnings for home.
I know I don’t want to move to another location where the only person I know is the people someone else knows. Or if I’m in a location to be close to someone I can easily get to…maybe in a couple of hours, not 14 hours.
I know he is in no position to fix it, but I want him to at least be open to listening. I don’t want him to feel worse because he cannot. I just need him to accept that family bonding means a lot to me, and I’m used to having family traditions. When I’m not near my family during times when I usually can be, it does put a damper on my mood. When I’m not able to recreate the ambiance (to keep me from being moody or sad), it further adds to the depression.
I’m coming to terms that I’m depressed now. I’m taking the best steps I can so it won’t get worse. For that progress, I’m thankful.