Thursday, January 8, 2015

Published 2:18 PM by with 1 comment

Black Men and Depression, Pt 4: A Survivor's Story

The voice of a survivor

To end my Black Men and Depression series, I needed another voice. One who not only knows the altered state of depression, the shame of its coddled secrecy in the black community, but also the vortex of darkness and hopelessness depression causes, experienced as a man. Kenneth Todd Nelson is this voice who has found its way out of the darkness and has become a mobilizer of others. In his project, the documentary Faces of Darkness, featured in a previous post Black Men and Depression, Pt 3: Suicide, [Read: Black Men and Depression: Suicide] he highlights the struggles of black men to have a voice in their struggle with depression and how suicide has become the unfortunate escape for too many.

He speaks about the onset of this disease after the loss of both of his parents. Since young African- American boys are not encouraged to be expressive about their feelings in an appropriate way, he was alone and scared with his distress.

“I would spend days curled up on the couch or in disheveled bed sheets crying, feeling numb in my darkness. I cried for my losses, but I also cried because I didn’t know how to deal with the sadness and heartbreak. The shadows of doubt and fear took over me, and I realized that I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. I isolated myself from my friends, feeling too ashamed to tell them I was suffering”

When his depression began to physically manifest with coldness, numbness and tingles, the doctors attributed his symptoms to extreme anxiety and depression. He was prescribed medication, but chose to self-medicate with sweets until he began to realize that his sugar highs were not helping him. He began the medication management of his condition, but still lived in silence about his pain. He shares that the suicide of his close friend, Lee Thompson Young, prompted his decision to fight back and speak up against depression.

“The day I lost my close friend, actor, Lee Thompson Young, to suicide, something inside of me started to flare up. I was shocked and devastated by this loss and I found myself wondering …if I had told about my depression and suicidal thoughts, could I have saved him? From that thought process, and in his memory, I started to fight back. I created, co-produced and co-directed a documentary titled, “Face of Darkness-Journey to Healing” to document the experience of depression in the minority male community.”

There is something about hardship, struggle and challenges that should birth a wisdom and desire inside of you to want to guide others along the path that you have already taken. As someone who has suffered with depression and anxiety, I now understand the importance of channeling your energies and mobilizing yourself to be a supporter, educator, advocate for others who are also suffering. K. T. Nelson feels that his recovery from depression is because he welcomed help and created a support system and tools to help keep [him] and others positive. He seems to have also reached a point of resolve to stay committed to his fight, to our fight. In a recent article Read: My Story: “I Refuse To Let Anyone Else Suffer In Silence”, he writes “I refuse to let anyone else suffer in silence.” I thank him for lending his voice, commitment and passion to this cause. It is necessary and valuable. It is a survivor’s story and it is silent no more. 

** Jamesgirl **

You can read the other articles in the series by clicking on the pics below. 

1 comment:

  1. Great points. So many people spend so much time debating and fighting whether testing should occur they miss the point that the child needs to be prepared to do the best they can. I noticed for many of my students no matter what subject area the test covered reading, math or science, the students with the best reading comprehension and critical thinking skills always scored well on all test. They may have been stronger in one area than another but the were proficient and above the average of their peers in every subject. Reading is fundamental and discussing what was read gives a huge advantage to children throughout life.