I believe author Richard L. Taylor, Jr. said it best in Love Between My Scars. Whenever someone of color, especially Black people talk about mental illness, especially depression and suicide, the first thing they say is, "That's White peoples s#%t." Being a black woman, I know that statement to be oh so true.
Ever since I hit puberty, I have struggles off and on with depression. I've felt the effects of my minds chemical and hormonal imbalance so many times, it's hard to tell when I ever was truly "okay." I look a pictures from various time in my life and I can't help but wonder if my smile was ever authentic.
According to an online article published by Mental Health America, over 19 million Americans suffer from mental illness and it often gets misdiagnosed in the African America community. Possibly because as a people, we fail to commit to our health just as we commit to making money or our personal relationships.
Many times I could feel the sudden shift in my emotions for days, weeks, and often months at a time, but I brushed it off as "the blues." No matter how great things were around me, I could not shake the feeling of emptiness. Of course when I was battling being in an abusive relationship, depression was my normal. But, after it was done with, it seemed as if the better things were, the worse I felt. Thoughts of "nobody would miss you" and "nobody really cares" bombarded my every waking moment. Many days and nights I laid in my bed, soaking my pillow with tears, asking myself "Girl, what the hell is wrong with you?!?" I never got an answer.
Yes, I prayed. I talked about what I felt a little bit. As I started to feel that I needed medical advice or evaluation, I researched how I could "naturally" heal myself. As living beings, we were endowed with the will to do some amazing thing but sometimes even in our best efforts, our best is not enough. Some things won’t heal with time. When dealing with depression, time can turn into your worst enemy.
For months I stayed up until the sun rose and I spent more than half of my days in bed sleeping or binging on Netflix. Procrastination became the norm and I ate my way to satisfaction—gaining 60 extra pounds along the way. Instead of throwing myself into being productive, I hid behind a few empowering Facebook statuses and threw on a plastered smile whenever I had to go before the public eye. Even when feeling like a speck of dirt on the ground, I still tried to rationalize with myself that feeling this low is normal.
"But I'm black," I kept telling myself. As a Black woman, we are taught not to show signs of weakness. And there I was smiling on the outside and crying my soul out on the inside. God forbid anyone ask me "How are you feeling?" It would take everything in me not to have a complete meltdown right then and there.
I had to come to grips with this fact: It's okay not to be okay.
Being a Black woman may come with a different set of circumstances but I bleed red just like every other human being.
It is okay to let others know you're hurting even if you don't know the reason. All people hurt. Not just white or black people.
It's also okay to admit that you need help. This was tough for me. I didn't want anyone to see me any less than successful and thriving after being in a rut for so long. If you don't have a trusted confidant who will help you get better, I promise, Google will be your best friend. There are tons of resources online to point you in the right direction.
The truth of the matter is: depression is not normal. And if you feel that you are battling with this, get help. You are not alone.
Yes, you can be Black and depressed but you were created to be Black and blesse. Get well and live well.
Here is a list of resources you can use to assist you.
US Suicide/Depression Hotline
NDMDA Depression Hotline – Support Group
Suicide Prevention Services Crisis Hotline
Suicide Prevention Services Depression Hotline
Maleeka Taliha Hollaway, a native of Atlanta, GA, is the founder and CEO of The OfficialMaleeka Group, LLC, a boutique-styled social branding hub specializing in life coaching, business consulting, writing services and public relations. Maleeka is also an Internationally Certified Life Success Coach, a candid public speaker, business & branding strategist (Internationally Certified Business Success Coach) and bestselling author Connect with Maleeka on www.officialmaleeka.com or @OfficialMaleeka on Twitter. FB, IG, Periscope & Blab. Or vist her website: officialmaleeka.com