“I do have anxiety, and it is part of my experience” – Lizzo
I remember when I was younger I use to hear my grandmother and aunts talk about nerve pills. They talked about them as casually as you talk about Tylenol. No one even batted and eye. What I learned by these actions was taking nerve pills was ok because everyone did it. They did it because people got on their nerves.
When I got older and started to suffer from what I now know is depression and anxiety I mentioned this to a few members of my family. I was trying to be perfect at everything. I would get extremely sad for no reason, or I would sleep for two days. What my family told me was that “I was working myself too hard”, or “I would get through this”. Not once did anyone even utter the words depression or anxiety, so I kept waiting to get through whatever “this” was. They also did not mention these famous nerve pills which I wish they had because they were getting on my nerves.
In college it got worse when my mood would swing suddenly. I was always sad. Everyone around me kept saying they were normal but I just felt off. I saw my first counselor in college and was diagnosed with depression.
When I went home to tell my family I was quickly told “Black people dont get depressed”.
If I wasn’t a mess before I was certainly a mess now. It was a white lady who told me I was depressed so maybe she was wrong. I was struggling with identity issues in high school and college so again maybe they were wrong. My first real boyfriend told me I was a “white girl trapped in a black girls body” so maybe I was displaying this white girl disease. I had no idea what to believe, so I ignored it.
Guess what happened? It got worse and a few years later I eventually broke. It’s been 17 years since the break and while each day gets easier it does come with its challenges.
Let me tell you some of the things I’ve learned and hopefully they help some of you, while continuing to help me.
I had to learn that problems are going to happen daily. I just have to learn to deal with them. That was the easy part. My problem is, in my mind I’m trying to solve a million problems at the same time. My mind eventually gets pissed and shuts down then decides to take my body with it. The solution is recognizing what’s happening and slowing down.
I also learned that no one person is responsible for my issues nor can they solve my issues. YOU DO NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE. Stop trying to fix stuff yourself. Obviously your brain can’t fix this issue so let someone help you. Only you can finally solve your issues, but there are people who can help you along the way.
The last thing I learned was that Black people DO get depressed. Depression has no color. Depression doesn’t care about who you think you are, or how strong you believe you are. Depression basically says “Fuck your feelings”. Depression is that beast that just doesn’t go away and likes to rear its ugly head from time to time.
I’ve yet to meet a person who has beat depression. What we like to say is “My story is not over;” That is the most important thing.
Let me be clear. We are all placed here for a reason. You may not know that reason, but there is a reason. It is not your place to remove yourself from this world and rob someone of your joy. I’ve gone on to be the mother of two wonderful children. I have a husband who loves me. I have lifelong friends and I have coworkers who are amazing. Guess what? They all get on my nerves and that’s ok.
If you are Black, Hispanic, Asian, White, yellow, green, blue, pink, or teal, you can get depressed and that is ok. There is nothing wrong with you are you are here for a reason. You are amazing and believe me someone loves you.
As this month comes to a close and I evaluate my mental health I’m 100% in a better place than when I started. I realize that I needed to take this break and take care of myself and that is ok. Maybe I was just reacting late to the Winter Blues but I’m ok.
Oh and let me say I’m never embarrassed or ashamed of talking about my mental health. If you have questions ask me. Hiding and pretending like I’m ok is what got me here. I refuse to go back to that place. I’m going to continue to love myself and grow into the person I’m meant to be.