Writing about this—all of this—frightens me. To have such a tumultuous and intimate aspect of my life published before the world creates such debilitating vulnerability. But this is a narrative that is often left untold, and I feel as though it is my responsibility to share. And if you don’t like it, that’s great. This isn’t for you. Carry on.
Let’s run this shit back, though.
Chances are that at some point, you’ve dreaded at least one day of your life. You were probably dreading the events of that day. You probably just wanted to stay under your covers as your alarm clock went off. You didn’t mind staying wrapped in your sheets and not facing the day. You didn’t want to do a damn thing. You knew that it wasn’t yours. That day did not belong to you.
Imagine feeling like this every single day. Imagine not knowing why.
The possibility of me being clinically depressed was not something that crossed my mind in the beginning. It began with missed due dates, frequently missed classes, and the inability to make it out of bed to do the simplest of things such as shower and comb my hair. Some mornings I would wake up crying and not know why.
The signs aren’t always the same for everyone, but a sudden, atypical, and often incontrollable lifestyle change always seems to be a sign in itself.
I didn’t know that I should seek any help. I thought it was just something that I was just supposed to deal with until it ran its course, but eventually it seemed as though whatever I was going through would never go away. I can remember being so frustrated because I wasn’t able to attribute my seemingly incurable sadness to any one thing. Was I just making it up? It was like I was a losing battle that didn’t even exist.
I still remember the times when some of friends would come to my dorm room and just sit or lay down with me because I couldn’t leave my bed.
I wasn’t the one who found the strength to get help. It actually was a professor of mine who refused to let me make up an assignment that I missed. He explained that he would need proof from my university’s Counseling & Psychological Services department. It was the fear of failing a class, and not the fear of destroying myself mentally, that encouraged me to get help.
At this point, I still didn’t know what was wrong with me. I didn’t want to throw around the term “depression” because sadness didn’t necessarily equate to depression. I didn’t want to devalue what other people may have really been going through. Things were cloudy, and the thought of going to therapy wasn’t too reassuring. After all, I wasn't a crazy person.
I was supposed to be a strong Black woman. We didn’t talk about our feelings; we held shit down. I didn’t know of any other Black women who felt the way that I felt. Who could possibly relate to me? Black women didn’t get depressed. The people around me didn’t get depressed.
What I failed to realize is that we are all so complex that you shouldn’t assume that you know what is (or isn’t) going on with the people around you when you don’t even know what’s going on with yourself. Mental illness exists inside of the Black community. Mental illness is not excluded from Black womanhood.
There are galaxies inside of us. Take care of yours.