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!
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
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.