Let’s talk about how important it is, having a safe place to land for someone who suffers from depression.
If you’ve been following me then you know that I’ve been tussling with depression since my teens. Depression can be very lonely and very isolating so having a safe place to land where you can be yourself, take off your mask and not have to pretend is top tier. For me, a safe place to land is a person or a group of people, and let me be clear, this doesn’t mean a dumping ground.
Now, this is with a mutual understanding with whomever you consider your safe place. I always ask one question before I share, “do you have the capacity?”, because what I will not do is dump. I will be the first to admit that dealing with someone who suffers from depression requires patience, healthy boundaries and an extraordinary level of understanding. For those without a person or people, sometimes your safe place to land may be therapy. This is how I ended up in therapy, I didn’t have a safe space.
Depression and unfavorable experiences makes one hesitant to be vulnerable. It makes finding a safe space incredibly difficult. For me it was the combination of both. These are a few that you may be able to relate to;
Not wanting to be a burden
Not wanting to appear sad even though we are
Not wanting to appear weak
Fear of not being understood
Fear of being judged
Fear of it being used against us later by loved one
Not being believed by loved ones
For me, this lead to masking. What is masking? Defined by me, masking is the art of pretending to be okay. It’s forced smiles. It’s clenched jaws. It’s responding “I’m fine” even when you aren’t. I’ve shared before, my masking level, EXPERT. My mask was as snug as Jim Carey’s, in The Mask. I’ve even fooled therapists, yes, more than one.
My top two reasons; my depression being used against me later, and not being believed by loved ones. If you can’t be safe with those closest to you, it presents a different level of hurt and a deeper level of masking (for me). Who wants to pretend to be okay in the space they believe they should feel the most safe? But sometimes, that’s the reality. If I don’t feel safe, mask on. Here is the difficult thing about depression, it isn’t always easily understood by those who’ve never experienced it. To that person, it may appear like sadness that you can just turn off. If it were that easy, depression wouldn’t exist. This is how I found my safe space in therapy, and that’s okay! This may be the case for you too, and again, that’s okay! What’s not okay, pretending to be okay when you aren’t. Sheesh, that was an excessive amount of okays 🤣.
A safe space for me looks like listening ears. It looks like hugs. It looks like being seen without judging eyes or words. It looks like feeling free enough to say, “I’m not okay” and that be okay. Nothing compares to this feeling.
Do I still mask? I do, but not as consistent as I used to. I often remind myself that it will take time to unlearn what took years to master. To all of my maskers one day we’ll put the mask down for good . There is a safe space for us all and I pray one day you find yours. Some may wonder why my blog is so saturated by mental health topics. It’s because I want to be the person I needed when I was struggling most. I want this to be a safe space for those still struggling. I want this to be a resource. I want to debunk the myth that black people don’t go to therapy. I want to speak on behalf of all of those who grew up being told, “you’re fine, it could be worse. Stop that crying! What could possibly be that bad?” Your experiences are valid. Your feelings are valid. I see you.
If you happen to be someone’s safe space, thank you.
Until next time…🦋