Tag Archive | Shel Silverstein

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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Late Night Ramblings of 2010 #4: Filling the Void/Closing the Gap

Last year, I wrote a note on FB called  Pieces of Me. I strongly suggest you check it out before reading this, because this is actually a continuation of that note.

You never know when someone can change your life.  You also never know when you will be the person to change a stranger’s life.  In the conversations I have had with people this year, one thing that seems to become more and more obvious is that a lot of people are walking around with Pieces Missing.  We go about our days, making due with what we have.

Some of us have those late nights when the emptiness becomes too much to handle, and we can’t help but have a breakdown.  One of those nights when you can’t sleep, because every thought you have ever had about your life is running through your head.  You are trying your hardest to Fake it Until you Make It.  But in the loneliness of your thoughts, you have to come face to face with the Void that exists within you.

Today, I admitted to {for all intents and purposes} a complete stranger, that for most of my life, I filled that Void with food.  I had never even admitted that to MYSELF. The void left in me by my relationship with my father was a large one.  It’s affected every relationship I have ever tried to have.  The pain that comes from the constant rejection of someone who is SUPPOSED to love you is often times unbearable.

People who have never experienced that pain will try to tell you, “But God Loves You.” or “All You need is Gods Love, he will fill that Void.” They are wrong.  Disagree with me if you want, but they won’t know what that feels like.  To look at how your parent(s) treat other people, and know that you don’t get that same love.

People in Arizona respect my father.  They tell me all the time what a great man my father is.

They are talking about the same man who told me I was never going to amount to anything, because my mother raised me.  The hypocrisy of who my father has become is awe-inspiring.  He’s a Member in Good Standing at his church.  He runs the entire Jail Ministry.  He spends more time with Inmates than he ever did with his own children.  This is my father.  This is the man whose name will be tied to mine until I get married.

I gained about 40 pounds while I lived with him.  The Void was looking me in the face for 11 months.  I was deemed less than, unimportant, and finally a burden while I lived with him.  The only person who understood what that felt like was my mother, because she had lived it as well.  Much of my fathers dislike for me is based on his feelings for my mother.  He was punishing me for what he deemed my mother’s transgressions.

So why did I move to Arizona in the first place?

Because I was tired of being broken.

I was tired of hating myself because of what someone else had told me was a flaw.  I was tired of filling the Void with Food, and Sex, and wrongly invested attachments.  I was tired of searching for love from all the wrong people.  I came here because I wanted to see if I could forgive my father for the hurt he caused.  Having hate in your heart doesn’t hurt the other person, it hurts you.

I had to Close the Gap. I had to take all those feelings of Abandonment, and Unworthiness, and Self-Loathing, and examine them.

It would have been great if I could have done that in a week, then found a Job, and moved on with my life, but it took a year.  Living in a hostile environment can bring out the best or the worst in a person.

Thankfully, it brought out the Best in Me. It brought out the Writer in Me.  It brought out the Singer in Me.  It brought out the Public Speaker in Me. It brought out the Beauty in Me.  It brought out the Child of God in Me.

After the late night walks, and tears, and late night phone conversations, I survived.

I write this for all those people who don’t know if they can make it.  Who see themselves in a place of such darkness that they can’t fathom coming out on the other side.  For those of you who have a pain so deep inside, you can’t seem describe it in words.  For those of us who cry ourselves to sleep every night, and beg the Lord for a release from this pain.

You can Fill the Void.  You can Close the Gap.  Be strong in YOU.  Remember what YOU want for yourself.  Remember your Goals.  Keep your GOALS in a visible place, so that you can have a reminder, that it’s not going to be like this forever.

You can survive.  You WILL survive.

Because I Did.  For a long time, I didn’t know if I would.  But I Did.

And So Will You.

Open Book (c) Esoteric Eric: Pieces of Me

It is my opinion, that we as human beings come into the world Broken.

Part of you will forever belong to your mom, who birthed you, and your father who contributed to the whole conception process. We come into the world with pieces missing. Its the job of your parents to in turn, give you a piece of them, to fill in those parts that are missing.

Often times, the people responsible for making you whole at birth don’t do that job, so we begin our lives broken. We find different ways to replace those parts – Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll – but unless we find a filler, we are broken. And that is just want Sex, Drugs, and Irresponsible Living are, FILLERS. Empty things we use to ease the pain of those broken parts of ourselves.

As we walk through life, we give away pieces of ourselves in so many different ways. You might give one to that guy who smiles at you when you order at Starbucks – the part of you that needs to be recognized. You might give one to the boy/girl/woman/man who broke your heart for the first time – the part of you who jumps head first into love. You might give one to your best friend – the part that allows you to be free enough to be honest at all times.

The problem is, we take pieces of them too. The guy at Starbucks, he gave you the part of him that knows when you will be in that day. The person who broke your heart, they gave you their heart as well (though it might have been damaged and broken from the start). Your best friend, they gave you that piece of them that allows you to listen to their problems without passing judgment.

We Are All Broken.

Today was one of the most amazing days of my life. I got paid to stand in front of 100+ teachers, and tell them what I think they should do in their classrooms. How Awesome is that!?! I gave them something I can never get back – my first time speaking at a State Conference. That will never happen again, there will never be another first time, so those 100+ people all have a part of me, whether they know it or not.

But the whole time I was having this amazing awesome experience, I knew I couldn’t share it with someone who would understand exactly what that felt like. Someone that I could call and just say “OMG, I almost shit myself when people started clapping in the middle of my presentation!” So part of me that was supposed to be gone today, is still there. It’s like an ingrown toenail, just nagging me every time I walk, because it doesn’t fit in that spot. It has grown past it.

Often times we get caught up in how we feel when things go wrong. What my feelings are about what the other person did/said/saw. Me Me Me! We forget, just like the part we gave to that person was damaged, they were damaged too.

It’s quite easy for me to cut people off when they make me mad. Until Monday, I didn’t know that by cutting someone off, I was taking a piece of them away, and not replacing it.

You have to replace the pieces you take. If you don’t, that person can become an empty shell of the person they were, and when that empty shell has reached the point where nothing they try will fill that void left by all the broken piece, they often take drastic measures to get rid of that pain.

For my Grey’s Anatomy Fans, you know what I mean when I say, You Might Be Someones Person. Just because they aren’t your person, doesn’t mean you aren’t theirs. The measure of a good friend is that you don’t let petty shit get in the way of LIFE. I’ve made many mistakes this year, as I try to navigate this new exciting period of my life. I’ve let my People down.

Don’t forget how it feels when someone steals a piece of you. Replace those pieces. Give and Take. Find the Balance. It might just save a life.