Friday, October 31, 2014

Published 9:30 AM by with 0 comment

How Did I Get Here?

How did I get here? | Yes, We Rise

If you looked at my life and see what I've seen, Oh you would see I'm so life, my life, my life in the sunshine-Mary J. Blige (MJB)

I have been asking myself whether, in my campaign to destigmatize depression within the black community, I am insinuating that one should be labeled depressed just because they get into a rut or experience some difficulty coping with life. I have wondered if depression is a word that we are throwing around to loosely and whether or not we should be apprehensive about accepting it as the answer to why we are malfunctioning in life. Where does this place even come from? How did you wind up here?

When I think of the numbers of people who I suspect could be suffering from depression, I feel conflicted thinking if the diagnosis of depression is a cop out for these huge numbers of people who just seem to not be able to deal with life. This is the mindset of many people who just don't buy it. Maybe you're reading this and you are not convinced either. I have thought it, but then been reminded that I am one of those people for whom life had become all too......unbearable. Does that make me weak? Is there something wrong with my character because I'm not dealing well?

Regardless of any skepticism, the data from a study published by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) found:
  • women (4 percent vs. 2.7 percent of men) and African-Americans (4 percent) are significantly more likely to report major depression than whites (3.1 percent) 
  • 7.6 percent of African-Americans sought treatment for depression compared to 13.6 percent of the general population in 2011 
  • a 2010 CDC study shows that African Americans have the highest rate of suicide, at more than 12 percent, despite having a lower lifetime risk, but suicide is the third-leading cause of death for Black males ages 15-24 

Notice that the data is at least four years old (taking research analysis processes into account) and that the only data provided for Black males includes that which records their suicide as a result of depression. Interestingly, this study shows an increased likelihood for Black people to report, but a marked failure to pursue treatment and a deficiency in proper monitoring of the mental state of black men. We must do more to understand ourselves, to heal and to recover.

I suggest that the state of depression is part of the human condition. We all are prone, in our human frailty, to depression or being depressed. Other factors in our individual make up, environment, genetics, gender, etc. may cause some of us to be more susceptible or conversely more resilient against depression. However, no matter your personal composition, depression is not a strike against your character. It is not a sign of weakness. There is a complex series of physiological, environmental, experiential, emotional and spiritual factors that cause us to find our selves here.

By now, I hope that you have gathered that I'm speaking about a clinical, measurable state of depression, not just sadness that easily passes, although instances of that can be regarded as low grade depression.

Take your time baby, don't you rush a thing, don't you know I know that we all are struggling- MJB

This depression stuff goes deep. I tend to be very analytical and looking at the research on depression and its affect and implications makes my head swirl. It is the culprit behind many addictive behaviors, broken families, unfulfilled dreams, misunderstood personas and so on. The nasty cashier at the pharmacy; the over-zealous, abusive cop; the lazy and "triflin" young mother walking her baby to school with no socks and a runny nose; the struggling artist waiting for their big break; the drug slinging corner boy; the conflicted pastor; his resentful wife; the burned out teacher; the workaholic CEO; the absentee, deadbeat, baby daddy; the chronically ill thirty something trying to find and sustain normalcy and joy in the midst of pain and uncertainty; the successful entrepreneur who realizes that the trappings of success has failed them somehow....all of them, all of us, have experienced some circumstances that have led to depression.

What's your story? How did you get here?

Was it a) trauma, b) life's disillusionment, c) family history, d) other, e) all or combination of above, f) you have no clue? If you are struggling and you feel that you are depressed, but won't confess it or maybe you have reported your depression, but haven't sought treatment, is it because of fear, lack of resources, doubt that there is a better way or something else?

How did I get here? | Yes, We Rise

Please share from your story with me in the comments section or through email. I plan to use the stories of others in future work in order to help sensitize others to the stigma surrounding depression and how it detrimentally silences us. I would also like to address questions that you may have about depression. For those who will share, thank you for being courageous enough to help destigmatize this crippling condition, by telling your story of confession and/ or overcoming.

I gotta go through the fire, embrace the flame, let it burn real deep, cant skip over the pain, I gotta breakthrough-MJB


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