Friday, October 10, 2014

Published 9:30 AM by with 0 comment

Confession Time: Depression exists among us


Confession Time: Depression exists among us | Yes, We Rise

I know what it like to wanna go somewhere and cain't. I know what it like to wanna sing... and have it beat out 'ya. -Miss Sophia, The Color Purple



I can't do this! I can't go to this meeting to sit and smile pretty, listening to everybody talk about how awesome their lives are. I refuse to go pretend that I am anything other than miserable. I just can't go. I wont go. Yeah, I know I'm a mentor and everyone would love to see me at this reunion meeting, but I have no more brave faces to put on. If I don't go, they will think something is wrong with me or that I just flaked. If I do, will I be able to hold it together long enough to come back home and be miserable....in peace?


This banter had become a routine negotiation with myself about participating in life which was my daily struggle. Deciding to show up and care about things I was supposed to care about sapped all my strength. I was saving my brave faces for my daughter and church, the two experiences where I felt I needed to appear like I was all in. I didn't have many of them left in my emotional reserve and going to a mentoring reunion meeting was not qualifying for use of one.

Go. Don't go. You have nothing to share. If you start talking they will know. If the right person asks how you are doing and takes a good hard look at you, your veneer will crack and your secret will be out.

I went to the meeting. I smiled, ate, giggled, tried to be the Leslie I thought they needed me to be in the group. I sat and listened, then my turn came and I felt nauseous and sweaty and the Leslie I needed to be, vomited these words out of my mouth, "I don't have much going on....I am depressed".

Funny thing, you know how you feel so much better after you vomit? How things seem to settle inside of you and you wonder why you would hold something in that obviously needs to come out? What took me so long to admit and confess "I am depressed"? Maybe the same thing that keeps so many others, especially within the black community from acknowledging that they are too depressed.

Months earlier I stood in the grocery store talking with a friend who I hadn't seen in a few months. We were catching up on life and I was sharing with her about how I felt out of sorts, disinterested, not very hopeful about anything especially following my termination from a job that I had put my blood, sweat and tears into. I was resentful, bitter, resistant to happiness for myself or anyone else, isolating, downright mean and angry to the point that I was getting on my own nerves. I laughed as I shared that with her, she stared back at me and said "you know you're depressed right".

I could have slapped her face....hard because her words assaulted me like a punch in the gut and I was offended. Depressed? Me? What? Girl, please? Do you know who I am? I am a child of the King. I am a strong black woman. I have places to go, people to see (you know the rest). However, that response was not convincing, she had called me out with laser sharp accuracy, I hated her for it and I could not respond for shame. I thought I was hiding good behind my blaming, and my "I'll be fines." Obviously, I wasn't. I walked away wondering if others could see my proverbial "slip hanging " and what could I do to crawl deeper into my cave because I surely couldn't confess. I could not confess for shame. We can not confess for shame.

The words "I am depressed" will not come, they just fester in our bellies.


Confession Time: Depression exists among us | Yes, We RiseSociety at large, will not allow the depression of angry, cantankerous black women; violent, irresponsible black men; disenfranchised, reckless black youth to come forth either. The world would have us only exist within the confines of our misnomers. There is no way that these people could be depressed, they have survived the The Middle Passage, slavery, Jim Crow, The Civil Rights Era, lynching, rape, etc. They are of strong and resilient stock, hardy like bulls and dandelions, certainly not prone to human frailty, look at all they have endured.

Subsequently, we have bought into that press, making our survival of mistreatment and abuse a badge of honor without calculating the cost. Black folks ain't got time to be depressed, so we deny, self medicate, kill one another, recreationally make babies that we aren't equipped to nurture, stop dreaming for ourselves and kill other's dreams. Seems that we'd rather be angry, bitter, violent, reckless... because to be depressed, broken or defeated, translates as weak. That is our fear, that is our shame.....to appear weak. While others are considered human, troubled, eccentric or depressed we are viewed as barbaric and depraved. The propaganda is working.

And so, in this my inaugural post, I want to begin a discussion about how to destigmatize depression and challenge attitudes and perception about it within our community and when necessary identify therapeutic and restorative supports. How do we interact within our community differently? Understanding that some of us are not just angry, irresponsible and reckless, some of us are depressed and can't confess (a little Jesse Jackson-ish, but hey it fits).

I'm not talking about down or with the 6 day blues, but clinically depressed and need of an intervention. I'm not condoning special treatment or a "look the other way" pass, but how can we have effective responses? How do we move people from suffering to some place of restoration?

I started with me, I finally confessed, what will you do?

** Jamesgirl **

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