I have experienced being in a very dark place. At times i still manage to go there. I lost hope, i lost, confidence, and i felt like i lost my mind. Growing up there were no therapy sessions, or someone to check in on you just to ask if you were okay, you were considered weak if you cried or if you couldn’t handle life’s problems. I took my depression as something that wasn’t normal, i wasn’t supposed to feel a heightened sense of dread, worry, pure and utter sadness. I didn’t know at the time why i had those feelings and how i could climb out of the dark ongoing realm that was my life. The feelings i had were so intense, and so powerful, that i contemplated leaving his earth. I thought “I can’t see a therapist people, friends would think I’m weak, they will think I’m crazy. It had gotten so bad that my body was here on earth but my soul had left, my soul changed. I never could comprehend why so many other people in this world were depressed, how could something like depression intervene with everyday life, Could it really stop time? Could it really stop you from living a normal healthy life? Could it effect the way you think? Hell Yes! That definitely was the case for me. The picture you see below was taken on a pretty bad day. I was highly anxious, just had taken my anxiety and depression medication, it was a bad day. I still managed to pit on my poker face.I figured that i could capture myself in that moment, so if one day when i conquered this i would remember what i felt in that moment. This picture was taken in 2008. I still remember the day, what i ate, what i did, how i felt. I forced a smile to let outsiders know things were perfect.
See, i was good at putting on a facade and portraying perfection, i did it quite well for awhile until i couldn’t any more. It started to show within my character, and sad enough, my big brown eyes. Loved ones knew something in me had shifted, my shift was infinite. I looked in the mirror and i couldn’t recognize this who i had become. I was full of life before, i shined when the sun didn’t, i was bubbly, i was outgoing and loved to joke and laugh. I finally realized i needed help and started treatment. My spirit reached a breakthrough with the help of god, Prozac, prayer, writing, and persistence. I’m saying this to say if you are ever in a place where you want to harm yourself, if you get to a place where you feel sad, worry, and severe anxiety, talk to someone, get help, this does not mean you are weak, You are not alone.
There is a stigma in the African american community surrounding mental health. Having a mental disorder symbolizes weakness. According to NAMI (national alliance of mental illness) “Although anyone can develop a mental health problem, African Americans sometimes experience more severe forms of mental health conditions due to unmet needs and other barriers. According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. Common mental health disorders among African Americans include:
- Major Depression
- ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder)
- Post Traumatic stress Disorder
“African Americans are also more likely to experience certain factors that increase the risk for developing a mental health condition:
- Homelessness. People experiencing homelessness are at a greater risk of developing a mental health condition. African Americans make up 40% of the homeless population.
- Exposure to violence increases the risk of developing a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. African American children are more likely to be exposed to violence than other children.In the African American community, many people misunderstand what a mental health condition is and don’t talk about this topic. This lack of knowledge leads many to believe that a mental health condition is a personal weakness or some sort of punishment from God. African Americans may be reluctant to discuss mental health issues and seek treatment because of the shame and stigma associated with such conditions.”Many African Americans also have trouble recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions, leading to underestimating the effects and impact of mental health conditions. Some may think of depression as “the blues” or something to snap out of. This is not something you can just ignore and sweep under the rug. If you notice that a loved one is not themselves and you notice a shift, step in, be there, listen, it could be a matter of life or death.
If you feel down and need extra support please call (1800)-662-HELP (4357 you really don’t have to experience pain and fear by yourself. I made it through my storm, at times it can be challenging, but I’ve gained the tools and knowledge to manage my major depressive disorder by attending cognitive therapy, attending support groups, and starting a blog. Don’t let life stop when that light goes out, find another source of light and let it carry you to utter happiness.
Featured Image: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/
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