“If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoyed it.”
-Zora Neale Hurston
It was my husband that told me my swag was low.
Now, I have had episodic depression before, but no formal diagnosis. Keeping in mind, most Black girls, or Black women don’t have anxiety or ‘depression’–just ‘attitudes’.
So when my husband of 6 years, told me that he was taking me to a hospital to be looked at, that I couldn’t partake in the healing of our relationship until I found out what was wrong with me. I couldn’t even cry.
I couldn’t even cry.
I had been told, bred to know, that I had to be strong. That is one of the thing Black women and girls are supposed to be. Ever sure.
Flawless. Slayed, sexy and steady.
Keeping in mind that I have had bouts of depression, and no one noticed. I had been told that I was ‘too quiet’, ‘standoffish’ or ‘strange.’ When I was about 12, I would get up a few hours before everyone else, or in the middle of the night, just to have time alone. When I would have to go to my Grandmother’s around all the noise and people there? My anxiety would ramp up! My aunt once asked me what was wrong, and someone told her that I didn’t get my ‘quiet time’ today. She said (and I quote!), “I haven’t had quiet time in twenty years.”
This is what it’s like to move with depression as a Black girl in the face of a world that tells you ‘depression is for White girls.’ Or my favorite: ‘Black girls don’t get depressed.’
Yes, we do.
And we shouldn’t be shamed for it. We shouldn’t have our Blackness challenged or knowing is something is wrong with us–without support. So, what did I do? I screamed on pages, I cried in showers, I’d overeat, I thought about ending my own life–but never had a plan. My YouTube sister, Jahaira (her channel is JahairasMission), called that type of suicidal ideation ‘a hum.’ I really didn’t want to kill myself–I just wanted to stop feeling sad.
All the time.
I was able to go to work, fuck, carry on conversation, bury my grandmother, have children, pay bills, get divorced, fight my ex-husband over the shared children, pray and get remarried. I functioned–happy about the good days. But it was the blue days which had me in bed after my kids went to day care.
This time, I had someone that looked at me, beyond affinity, and see that something was wrong. Without being intimidated by the strong, Black, female trifecta.
My husband, by confession worships the ground I walk on, realized the goddess had clay feet. That Supergirl is tired–on multiple levels–while feeling like no one is super for her! Everyone needed, asked, wanted and demanded. Everyone had their cups out–this is the problem with being tagged as ‘the strong one’. No one knows that sometimes strength, being strong, is all you know to be or have to be.
Being vulnerable, needing help, being vocal about that help is not often afforded to Black women. But, I was tired. When I checked in to a local hospital and had to tell the nurses at the desk what was wrong? It was humbling. In telling the nurses that cared for me what was wrong, and how long I had been feeling that way, gave me an odd peace.
I didn’t have to be super Black girl.
I didn’t have to pretend to be okay.
I was going to be okay.
There were people willing to listen to me, concerned about my well-being. In laying in that little room, on a stretcher in paper scrubs with heated blankets which cooled to quickly, I cried. I exhaled and cried a little.
Not a full out weeping, but an acknowledgement. The best of us, the strongest of us, sometimes need to be cared for. Sometimes those that care for others, lead the way for others, too, get tired.
Sometimes we the strong ones need other people to take the world from our shoulders. We these same strong ones must know the world will still spin when they take it!
The best self-care is when you get the wisdom and resources to take better care of yourself. It is self-care to ask for help. It is the confidence of those resources which let you care for others who need you too.
There is a story in the Bible about the 10 lepers Jesus healed. They were told they were healed, and show themselves to the priest. As 9 turned to go, 1 returned to say thank you. However, in the King James Version, the phrased used is ‘they were healed as they went.’
That is how I feel about this diagnosis.
I am healed, I will be healed. I still have to go and do all that I have been charged with. The healing will come, has come, I just have to keep going. There is an out patient process ahead, with a mix of medication, rest and therapy. However, I am hopeful.
Night is over. The sun is finally up.
[top image Pinterest, bottom image author’s own]