Black Mind's Matter - Black Women get Depression too
24th May 2019
Melanated Minds I Opinion
Melanated Minds I Opinion
Depression has been something I've dealt with from a very young age. Growing up I never heard anyone speak about things like mental health, it was just one topic no one ever brought up. I started to wonder was I the only black child who felt this way and did things like depression only happen to those of another race. It hasn't been until recently that others I know have spoken about mental health and it seems as though the door between speaking about depression and the black community has begun to open.
I can understand being hesitant about sharing your feelings with others, especially being black. We treat it as if it’s something to be ashamed of when in fact most of us face the same demons.
Depression doesn't have a "poster child", it can look like many things and it can affect anyone, even the strongest people.
Behind the face of a Strong Black Woman
Black women have been the backbones to most, if not all, people in their lives. They carry on working, taking care of their family and business, all the while dealing with racism and sexism and they keep their heads held high while doing it. It’s easy to portray yourself as strong when you're crumbling on the inside and this is the way many black women live their lives. Stress is a big factor and black women are more likely to have feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and sadness.
Afraid of being judged by others and not sure who to turn to we carry on with the mindset of "it'll pass" when it comes to dealing with depression. Therapy is clouded with shame and people are afraid of the negative way others might see it. Phrases like "pray about it" and "depression is a state of mind" further the stigma and discourage those suffering from seeking treatment or even speaking out.
It could be your mother, sister, aunt or friend, the person you view as your rock may just be rolling downhill. They say the strongest people often hide a lot and for black women this is true. Symptoms of depression can be more severe and persistent for WOC, but we are less likely to seek treatment or even speak about it. Black women are also more likely to have stress when dealing with family and finances. Continuing to be the glue for those in their lives without speaking out can be harmful for their mental health.
Finding adequate help and a support system may be difficult. The price of therapy and the lack of POC in these professions makes it even harder. When we walk into a therapist office, we want to see someone who understands our background and our struggles. When we talk to family members who are religious it becomes a bible lesson instead of a shoulder to lean on and the black community, until recently, has turned a blind eye to the importance of mental health and keeping the discussing going.
The first step in my mental health journey began with a friend, someone who might not understand but was there to listen and that was all I needed. Speaking up about the struggles you may be facing doesn't mean you are broken or weak, it means you've fought hard and long, it’s a testament to how strong you really are. The stereotype of being a strong black woman can make you feel as though you have no choice but to keep any feelings of sadness or stress inside, but that is not the case. Talk about it, write about it, express yourself and not only will you help you, but you may also help another strong black woman who is struggling.