Battling Depression as A Black Woman in America

Keep OnLast night was another night filled with tears as I drifted to sleep. I lay in bed trying not to think suicidal thoughts.  I remembered all of the principles I’ve been working with, especially acceptance.  “I accept my emotions,” I repeated over and over to myself.  However, I did not really want to accept this.  Why am I constantly battling with depression?  Everything spiritual says that when you align your chakras you won’t have mental illness.  Everything medical says that if you take medicine you will be better.  But, I’m one of those people who do not trust the medical industry, and I’d rather just deal with my emotions than to take medication.  So, every two weeks I suffer.

Ever since I can remember, I have always had episodes of depression. I remember crying for hours as a young child as I felt left out or neglected.  I remember crying for hours thinking to myself “If I kill myself they’ll be sorry” in high school.  I remember sitting in a plastic storage box crying for 7 nights straight my freshman  year of college.  I remember attempting to cut myself, scratching my skin off, pulling my hair, and tying rope around my neck, cutting off my air. Eventually, either after a few hours, days, weeks, and sometimes months, the shadow of depression would lift, and I would be happy again.  In fact, I would be more than happy.  I’d be amazing, on top of the world, filled with wonderful ideas that I would manifest, new goals that I would accomplish, and it wasn’t until a friend suggested to me in college that I may be bipolar.  I did more and more research and it seemed like the description fit.  Eventually I went to a psychiatrist about it, and that’s what he said.

It seems that no matter what I do, I will always get depressed.  Last night, in the midst of my suicidal thoughts, I knew I could end it.  I knew that my grandmother has a ton of medication that I can take. For the fist time in my life, I actually have access to something I can kill myself with.  If I really wanted to, I could go into the kitchen, open her pretty pink basket, and take all the medication. However, a few things always stop me.  1) My grandparents are on a fixed income, and it would be selfish for me to take their medications when they need it for their health and would have to buy more to replace them. 2) I don’t really want to die, and 3) I KNOW I have a purpose.  These last two are what keep me going every time.  I know I have a purpose.  I know that all the pain that I have faced in life is for a reason.  I know that this is something greater than myself.  I know that I deal with this for a reason.  So with that, I keep pressing forward.

However, it is hard.  How do I explain that there’s nothing wrong with me, but I’m just depressed?  This morning I found myself saying “I should have killed myself.”  How do I explain this to my grandmother, who no doubt had a much harder life than I?  How do I explain that I’m depressed but I don’t necessarily have a reason, I just am?  How do I explain that so many nights I cry myself to sleep, yet keep going with a smile on my face, hiding?  How do I explain when that smile is no longer there and people are looking for an explanation?  I feel like as a young black woman, I am not allowed to feel these things.  I have always been told to just get over it.  Stop crying.  “You’re a cry baby.”  “Shut up before I give you something to cry about,” threatening violence against my already hurt spirit.  In an effort to stay positive, so many people ignore what they are going through emotionally.  And as a result we have more and more young black people committing suicide.  If only people would take a minute to listen just to listen.  If only people would stop minimizing our problems just because we have money or don’t see whites only signs.  If only more people would stop expecting people to just be happy all the time and shaming any other emotion.  I don’t know.  Maybe I’ve gone off on a rant, which I’m known to do.  But I’m just tired of not knowing how to explain myself.  There is no reason WHY I’m not in a good mood.  I’m just not.

But, as a young black woman, I am not supposed to allow my emotions or my moods, mental illness, or physical illness keep me from progressing.  So, I push forward, knowing that my ancestors had pains and sorrows that are beyond comprehension.  I push forward knowing that I have a path to pave for the generations that will come after me.  I push forward  knowing that there is a divine purpose for my life, and that my story matters.  I push forward with the fighting spirit that lies in all black women.

So, how do I deal with depression as a young black woman in America?  Like my ancestors, I fight.  I exercise, meditate, pray, and keep on keepin’ on. Maybe one day the battle will be over.  But for now, I’ll continue to fight and win.

Do you battle with depression or any other form of mental illness?  If so, how do you deal with it?  What keeps you going when you want to give up?  I’d love to know your stories.



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