Friday, May 26, 2006

Depression Stop Progression

I'm not sure if it was a phrase I coined or I'd just heard it somewhere along the way and adopted it as my own but "Depression stops progression" has become my mantra. I'd yell if from the rooftops if I could but I'm scared of heights. I'm very familiar with murky depths of depression and how difficult it is keep your head above water. When you're struggling to keep your head above water it's hard to be productive. "Depression stops progression".

Years ago when mom suggested that I might be suffering from clinical depression, I was offended. Her comment fell like an accusation, one that attacked the very core of who I am as a Black woman. I was on my way to Howard Univeristy with a big suitcase filled with the intentions of of conquering the world. I felt as if I couldn't be stopped. Sure I'd experienced more than my fair share of sleepless nights and moments of fear and anxiety. I thought it was normal. But when my mom forced me to look at my life, I had to admit that sadness outweighed joy. Still in my mind, that didn't mean I was depressed. I was concerned. I was worried. And when measured, my hardships were nothing in comparison with those that generations of Black women before me had faced. I dismissed them as part of life. But after being raped my sophmore year in college, I became so debilitated I could hardly get out of bed in the mornings. The crisis forced me to acknowledge that I was, indeed, depressed. And I wasn't alone.

According to the National Women's Health Information Center, about 16 percent of African-American women experience clinical depression at least once during their lives. But this figure fails to reflect the large number of sisters who suffer from depression but don't get professional help. Therapy is seen as an indulgence and the idea of antidepressants can be frightening. To some, taking medication would confirm that you just may be crazy.

Denial is one of the most common responses to clinical depression. It's also one of the most damaging, particularly for Black women because we've been taught to keep on keeping on, no matter what. We have learned to mistake stoicism for strength. Yet our refusal to acknowledge our pain doesn't send the hurt away. Also, some Black women find it easier to express anger than sadness. If you suffer from persistent feelings of pessimism, lethargy, irritability or sadness, it's important to get help.

Ask for referrals from relatives or friends or speak to your physician or minister. These organizations may also be able to help: National Mental Health Association, (800) 969-NMHA, nmha.org; American Psychiatric Association, (888) 357-7924, psych.org.

Also, when you feel yourself falling into a funk, the instinct is to retreat. But consistent bonding with our girlfriends is like a balm for the soul. We are healthiest when we're surrounded by loving people and in loving relationships.

But you have to start with loving yourself enough to get help.

10 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:37 AM

    How did you get over your depression and progress in life?

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  2. Amen! Laughter is a great medicine. There are people in my life that I keep on standby to make sure I get a good, hearty laugh in as needed. That helps. Writing helps. Just chilling by the lake and marveling at how great God is helps. But you hit the nail on the head with this one. Thx.!

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  3. Great post Sis. Felt myself slipping into a depressed state yesterday so I sought out some folks to hang out with, take my mind off things, and then spent some time writing. As a 'functioning depressed person', I'm no longer surprised by the number or types of people who admit to being depressed. I am however still alarmed at the number who don't think they need help. We all need help at some point.

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  4. i was diagnosed with an ulcer when i was sixteen. SIXTEEN and it was horrible to live with.

    At nineteen, when i moved to Tampa (away from my mother's fabulous medical insurance) and i couldn't get the medicine i needed to treat the ulcer, I told myself i had to do something about it quick and fast.

    So i made a decision to control my surrounding. make sure only laughter invaded my life and not dwell on a lot of things that made the ulcer bad. it was all stress and when i finally had good insurance by the time i was 21, there was no sign of the ulcer.

    go figure.

    my mother told me two pieces of advice. drive'em crazy before they drive you & always smile because then people won't know what you're thinking.

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  5. Anonymous1:45 PM

    Stress is a killer. I believe women are taught to be super heroes and take care onf everything and everyone. Now that's stressful. Oh and ladies don't lose control.I have been trying to get rid of the super hero cape for years but I can't seem to let it go. Help!

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  6. I WAS TOLD BY A DOCTOR FRIEND OF MINE THAT I MIGHT HAVE CLINICAL DEPRESSION AND I WAS OFFENDED AT FIRST, BUT NOW I SEE THAT THE CHOICES I HAVE MADE AND THE THINGS I ALLOW MY MIND TO RECALL, PLAY A MAJOR ROLL IN THE DEPRESSION. THIS WAS VERY HELPFUL:)

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  7. Anonymous7:11 AM

    Didi,
    Do you think knowing you have clinical depression will help you make better choices?

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  8. Confession: It was hard for me to write this article. It is still difficult for me to write about challenges that I deal with whether it be depression or being raped BUT I am no longer ashamed ... it's just still very personal. But I believe that we all have stories to tell and that if we lose the stigma behind some of them then we can help another person to get help sooner or avoid them all together. God bless you all and thank you for uniting your voices with mine!

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  9. Nikki - your post actually inspired me to share a similar story on my blog. I'd been getting the inklings of an episode coming on for a few weeks & decided to just stare it down, put it out there for the world to see & that definitely takes some bite out of it. Also for the sister with the superhero cape....there's an old post on my blog (from April 2005 I think - the first blog post I ever did) called "Breaking News - Superwoman Enters Witness Relocation Program". I burned my cape. Was gonna donate it to charity but didn't want to see another sister get caught up. Keep your heads up Sisters!

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  10. Anonymous3:02 PM

    Thanks msjayy. I checked out your blog on Superwoman and on depression. Today you were my therapist

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