Black Girl Pain – My Lifelong Struggle with Depression

*The underlined words are companion pieces to this blog. They are Blogs I’ve written in the past dealing with Depression. Please check those out as well*

The first thing that must be said, Depression is real.  It’s an actual disease, that is affecting more and more young people.  The first time Depression entered my life, was just after my first break-up. I had lived my life, knowing that A Piece of Me was Missing, but not being sure if it was ever going to exist.  Suddenly, I met this person that made that all go away.  Then, after one argument, it was all over.  That happy place was shattered into a billion pieces.  I couldn’t explain that feeling to anyone, I just had to wake up everyday and face the fact that the thing that made me happier than I ever thought I could be was gone, and I didn’t ever see it coming back.

Honestly, I thought I was tired. It just made no sense to me to wake up and face classes, friends, life. My bed was just so much more comfortable.  I stopped going to classes, because when I was there, I wasn’t paying attention to what the teachers were saying anyway.  So why go to sleep in class, when my bed was right there?  I left my dorm every night at 6:oo pm for dinner with the Crew, then went right back to my room to sleep some more.  I honestly don’t know how no one noticed.  I did the bare minimum, for at least 6 months. At the end of that semester, my GPA was a 1.1427. Do you know how many classes you have to fail to get that GPA? 3, and get 2 D’s, and an A in choir.

My 3.7 GPA freshman year is the ONLY thing that kept me enrolled in the University of Dayton. I went from the 3.7 to a 2.0. Academic Probation was 1.9, I JUST made it.  I knew something had to change.  I was losing roommates, and friends because of my attitude and I really didn’t care.  One day, when I couldn’t stand to be in my room another minute, I went into the study carrols to write in my journal, and as I was writing, I noticed that I couldn’t breathe.  I fell to the floor, crying so loud the people in the dorm next door came to see what was wrong.  I cried for 45 minutes, listening to Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”.

I picked myself up off the floor, walked back to my room and swore to myself I would never let someone hurt me like that again. 2 years later, during a road trip with a Soror of mine, we were talking about relationships and how they can change the course of your life.  I told her the story of my “Celine Dion Breakthrough.” She looked me straight to my face and said to me, “You know that was depression, right?” I actually said to her, “Black People don’t get depressed, We don’t have time.” But once we started talking about everything else that was going on with me at that time, I started to think that maybe she was right.

I went to the Student Center, and talked to someone about what had happened, and they confirmed that yes, I had been suffering from Depression.  So it had a name, that overwhelming feeling of nothingness.  The thought that all my actions are leading me to a place that doesn’t matter.  The need to just be in my bed, under the covers, watching every movie I own.  When you hear about Depression, you never hear about that part.  You see that ladies surrounded by boxes of tissue, with runny noses, eating ice cream. The face of Depression is usually a White one.

Today, I had a conversation with my mother about Depression, and her realization that it might be a family issue.  I’ve only been in the “Celine Dion” Place one other time, and that was when I first moved to AZ. My mother knew, I think she could tell.  Usually, when I get near to that place she’s the first person to see it now.  When I was at school, no one understood what the hell had caused me to change that much, and no one ever said to me, “Maybe you’re Depressed.” It wasn’t a thought.

Because Black women don’t deal with Depression.  We don’t acknowledge it.  We really don’t even know what it is.  It’s the been labeled, “Some other shit that I need to deal with,” or “I was just having an off week,” or “It’s too cold to leave the house,” or “I’ll just go to work tomorrow.” It’s hard to put a name to something you don’t understand, know how to acknowledge, or sometimes want to.

Depression is the festering sore that picks at the psyche of Beautiful Women, until they can’t take it anymore, and you get a phone call asking if you have heard from So & So in a week?  Depression is one traumatic event after another, pulling you into an abyss that you can’t navigate.  Depression is “I’m just not good enough,” & “Why won’t someone love me,” & “Why don’t people see/hear/listen to/understand me?” Depression is sleeping the whole day and finding yourself buried in 18 months worth of bills. Depression is struggling to face everyday at work without bursting into tears.  Depression is hiding in your closet listening to Purple Rain at 5 in the morning.

Depression is a battle that some of my friends are losing.  Because we DON”T talk about it. We don’t want anyone to see that we don’t have a handle on this problem.  We, as Black Women, have so MUCH stuff to deal with, that we don’t have time to take care of our mental health.  But if we don’t talk about it, we are going to continue to lose ourselves.  In bad choices, and bad relationships, and situations that put our health/life at risk.  We will continue to lose ourselves to drugs, and liquor, and sex, and cutting, and suicide attempts, and everything else that comes from holding the pain inside.

I’m not in a bad place.  I’m actually in a great place right now.  But there might be someone who needs to know they aren’t alone.  Who feels like they can’t make it one more day.  This is for you.  To let you know that you can make it, as long as you acknowledge that you are having a problem in the first place. You are not ALONE in your fight.  Find someone to talk to, even if it’s a stranger.  Figure out the ROOT of your issue, and if you don’t know how {because you don’t watch Oprah and Dr. Phil enough} ASK FOR HELP. It’s only a secret if you hide from it. Depression don’t HAVE to be the end, it can be the beginning.

Once you can acknowledge the issues . . . You can start working on Filling the Gap/Closing the Gap.

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8 thoughts on “Black Girl Pain – My Lifelong Struggle with Depression

  1. I love you Joy (no homo). Girl I fight depression all the time and I refuse to get on medication for it. I refuse to let a pill dictate how I am going to feel. Lately, I have had it bad and I cry a lot. That is the reason why I am at the gym a lot. I have been accused of being bi-polar, etc. I really do not care what no one think, I will beat this.

    Thank you for this blog.

  2. just finished reading this and…i seriously wish i would have had this years ago. (it’s Z from MHS) i have been there…many times over. depression are unfortunate close friends. i have taken medication and done reckless things all because i needed some type of release.

    it is true that no one talks about depression in the black community. when i dealt with it (and spent 5 days in a psych ward) my mother was seemingly embarrassed about it and to this day no one in my family know i was in a hospital psych ward let alone that i have known the painful grip of depression.

  3. Thanks for sharing and you are absolutely right about us black women not having time for mental illness. I’ve battled depression off and on since my early twenties and it sucks because no one every notices. But I manage to get by and get better by grace. I’m also very watchful of my friends and family when I think they maybe depressed and try to reach out to them. I’m going to share this, especially with some people that I think need to hear it.

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