Friday, October 17, 2014

Published 9:30 AM by with 0 comment

Can You See Me Now?

Some of us always feel invisible

I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. ~Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Ever since I could remember, I have grappled with this haunting thought that somehow in all of my medium chocolate brownness, big mouthed-opinionatedness, my big-bodied selfness, my peculiar, charming sometimes misunderstood quirkiness, that somehow in all of that I was....... invisible.  I have honestly thought for more than half of my life that people did not see me.

Sure, I've been onstage, in front of a classroom, on the pulpit, at the head of the class, on the top of the list, but I still felt that no one saw me. They did not know that often I struggled to just be present with whatever I was doing at that moment. Unfortunately, my struggle with coping with life, my depression, caused me to develop some poor habits that began to define me in a way that I have been working to reverse and develop into a more integrous character. The most damaging element of feeling invisible, living as though no one saw me or subsequently like my life was not deliberate, was that in all my obsession with wanting people to see me, I had not taken the time to really see myself (it feels so good to speak of this in past tense).

Unfortunately, this blindness led to many self destructive, negative patterns of faking my way perfect. This week, I want to equip you with new eyes, eyes that see people in their depression, the fakers.

How to see the fakers

In her 2008 groundbreaking book, Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting, author Terrie M. Williams confronts the psychology of our denial about our experience with depression as black people in America. She talks about her own struggle with depression as a mental health professional and shares a countless number of stories of others who have lived without anybody catching onto their game as their lives took a downward spiral into the the deep throes of depression.

One of the subjects in her book described the stealthy resolve she felt as she went throughout her day; taking her mother to the doctor for a visit, dropping her home and then checking into a hotel, ordering prime rib and a baked potato to have with her wine and pills that she sipped on and swallowed while she watched Oprah that afternoon., obviously trying to kill herself. Thankfully, her husband found her note and tracked her down at the hotel before the end came for her. She did not jump up and down, scream nor holler. She simply decided to die because she couldn't take anymore.

What on earth could her friends, family or coworkers have observed about her daily routine or disposition that would have possibly prevented her from coming her point of attempted suicide? What could they have noticed about her that would have made a difference for her?

Signs of depression to look for

Here are some signs of depression that you could use as a guideline as you observe those around you or even for yourself. See yourself today. See someone else today. See into them. See for them. Seek them, they are probably hiding in plain view.

According to the DSM IV, a Major Depressive Episode and Major Depressive Disorder is diagnosed as such:

Major Depressive Disorder requires two or more major depressive episodes.

Diagnostic criteria: Depressed mood and/or loss of interest or pleasure in life activities for at least 2 weeks and at least five of the following symptoms that cause clinically significant impairment in social, work, or other important areas of functioning almost every day
  1. Depressed mood most of the day
  2. Diminished interest or pleasure in all or most activities.
  3. Significant unintentional weight loss or gain.
  4. Insomnia or sleeping too much.
  5. Agitation or psychomotor retardation noticed by others.
  6. Fatigue or loss of energy.
  7. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt.
  8. Diminished ability to think or concentrate

In Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting, Terrie Williams list twenty more human (less clinical) signs that you (or someone you know) might be depressed. I will list a few:
  1. You are always too busy, never having or taking the time to give yourself the care you need.
  2. You cant seem to concentrate on any one thing. You look at the same piece of paper five times.
  3. People are talking. You know this because their lips are moving, but you have no idea what they are saying. You aren't even there.
  4. Every morning you wake up with crippling anxiety; terrified to get out of bed and face the world.
  5. You have a persistent gnawing feeling that something is wrong; and you're right.

She goes even further to include things that you might hear a depressed person say, including:
  • I just don't feel like it
  • Go without me
  • I don't care
  • I just want to die
  • I'm 'a bust a cap in his (expletive)
  • Shut up (expletive)
  • Go away
  • I'll stop drinking next week
  • Nothing good ever happens to me
  • I don't trust anyone.
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list, please see the link below for the book. My hope is that you see yourself or others more and respond in love and concern.

Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting

National Alliance of Mental Illness

 ** James Girl **


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