I’ve lived with depression for so long that I’m something like a functioning depressive, you know, like a functioning alcoholic.
For reference, this is what depression looks like…
You see how you wouldn’t be able to tell just by looking at the exterior?
I describe it as, waking up everyday and putting on a mask pretending to be okay. It’s the mask you wear in front of loved ones and friends. Truth is the mask becomes the norm. In fact, you function so long under the guise of sadness that it becomes comfortable. It becomes the new “normal” but what truly defines normal anyway. You become so accustomed to sadness, to disappointment that the concept of happiness becomes foreign.
I was asked, “what does happy look like to you?” Folks, I didn’t have an answer because I can’t identify it.
So many people say, “you should try exercising” or “you should try to power your way through”. Well, the very things that help you out of the sunken place, depression prevents you from doing.
Then there’s the guilt, can we talk about the guilt? You feel guilty for feeling depressed, because my God, get your life together! That’s literally something I say to myself so way too often. I’ve become the ultimate gaslighter! The guilt of being unhappy because of course that means you aren’t grateful. Then you feel like no one understands and you try to refrain from talking to anyone because you don’t want to be a burden. For people with depression, it’s never a want. No one wants to be sad. No one desires the inability to regulate emotions. We want the exact opposite!
The two years that almost killed me…
I absolutely HATE pity and after a conversation with my therapist, perhaps pity is the wrong word. As a black woman, I was raised to be strong (I now hate that fucking word). As a black woman we’re expected to bear the burdens of the world without complaining. To provide. To nurture. To counsel. To teach. To heal. As a black woman I was raised to suck it up. Expected not to cry when hurt because that equated weakness.
The two years that almost killed me…
When I have to discuss those two years, I generally change the subject quickly or follow it up with a, “there’s somebody worse off”. That’s what being raised a strong black woman can do. It can make us minimize trauma, internalize it or ignore it all together until it you can’t. I’ve shared my story many times before, because I need folks to understand that they aren’t suffering alone.
2019 My father suffered a fall and his health declined significantly, ultimately rendering him helpless. That led to over a year of him suffering which brought us to…
2020 the year where he continued to decline. The year where I continued to be his primary caregiver. The year that I filed a third harassment claim against the manager that had been making my life a living hell on my job! The year that I had a nervous breakdown. The year that my father died. The year I lost my six figure paying job. The year I started taking antidepressants. Then we entered…
2021 no lie, I had high hopes, but it was the year I spent unemployed wondering how the hell I was going to provide for my children and keep a roof over our heads. The year that my my mother was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The year that my mother was diagnosed with cancer. The year that she died in ten days. The year I cut ties with my sibling. The year my health declined, and here’s the truth, I read all that and I say to myself, was it really that bad? Because, strong black woman duh.
Please know, it hasn’t all been bad. I’ve had some amazing things happen in those two years, but what I can say out loud is that, it was hard, I’m still healing and this shit ain’t easy!
So, how do we change the narrative? First step, take off the mask. Admit to yourself you aren’t okay. Find a therapist and go to therapy. Give yourself grace. Consider medication. Ask for help if you need it. Friend, take off the cape!
I pray this helps and encourages someone! You aren’t alone, and WE will be okay!
Until next time…🦋