Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Busy Black Blues

Depression really is a thing. I haven't had a lot of conversations with other Busy Black Women about it, but recently when asked about postpartum issues, I realized there is a reason why I've never had such a conversation. Depression is stigmatizing. To admit to having suffered through any form of depression is taboo.

A few weeks ago I posted an ominous FB status that opened a window into my life. I was in a very dark place, and in a moment of desperation and despair, I told the world. The response was unexpected. Several people sent me the usual messages of sending prayers and hugs. Some people inquired and others wanted to reassure me that I was not alone.

One post from a classmate stood out because she acknowledged my fragility and supported my transparency. Her message compelled me to start this piece several weeks ago...

So now I want to address why I never finished that effort and am now writing about how nearly impossible it is for us to discuss our mental health. I have written about my bouts of depression on this blog a few times, but a lot more over at the Cafe. One of the reasons why I use that venue for deeply personal revelations is because this blog is the public persona. Busy Black Women do not admit to spending the better part of a Sunday evening in bed, crying into a pint of double chocolate salted caramel gelato while watching a Tyler Perry movie. Ain't nobody got time for that!

Except...when we ignore every possible sign that we need to relax, recharge and release. I will admit that I often dismiss the notion of self care as a luxury. Not just as a matter of time, but also cost. Who can afford these fabulous girls' only weekends in Dubai? Or these spa retreats in the mountains, folks without children or whose student loans are paid? So I trick myself into believing my nail appointments are really three-hour escapes because paying someone to clip one's toenails is surely a luxury, right? Well, I got my nails done on Friday and I still spent my Sunday evening indoors blubbering under the covers gaining weight and killing brain cells on a really bad movie.

Self care should not look like self pity, but too many of us have to fall down before we sit down.

Heart disease is the number one killer in women. I don't want to cite a bunch of statistics because you can find what you need here, but consider the fact that one of the factors we overlook in our overall physical health is our mental well-being. How many of us self-soothe through poor eating, excessive alcohol or just by doing nothing at all (holding it in)?

I should not be the only person with her hand raised in the air, but if I am, then fine. I have allowed my sadness, lethargy and general desire to detach from everything and everyone to overwhelm me at times. And when asked to discuss it, I have deflected or eaten a cheeseburger. Neither is an adequate coping strategy.

So while I don't actually have a solution, I have resolved that I will speak up more often. I promise not to turn this blog into a online therapy session, but I will acknowledge in some meaningful way that Busy Blackness can be heavy. And I will also make different choices about how to cope, because certain bad habits I have developed lately have done little to lighten my moods. So I will invest more in both the concept and the reality of self-care.

Hopefully that means a child-free beach. Or a massage. Or a happy hour outside of the house. Or perhaps a happy hour on a child-free beach after a massage. In no particular order.

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