I Thought Strong Black Women Didn't Get Depression
There’s beauty in the struggle; that’s what creates a strong black woman. The strong black woman complex is something that has distorted my view of mental health for years. Prior to being diagnosed with major depression and anxiety, I just figured the pain was a part of my lifestyle. Mental health was never brought up in my environment. It wasn’t until I was 18 years old while in college when I realized these moods are not normal. I finally went to see a therapist. That was only the beginning…
By my junior year of college, I was so depressed that I would skip classes and never leave my bed. When I did leave my bed to venture outside all I could think about was launching myself into traffic and dying. That was my normal, daily impulse. Eventually my roommates convinced me to admit myself into a psychiatric hospital, where I spent four days.
I figured I’d be “better” after my stay, but I still attempted suicide five times after that. See, this wasn’t “bearing the weight as a black woman.” This was depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder (BPD). I stopped believing that complex and completely acknowledged I have illnesses. I am sick.
My diagnoses even opened my family up to mental health. They now have a better understanding; my mother even went in for a diagnosis and found out about her own depression.
To this day I still struggle tremendously, but it’s not something I’m supposed to accept as my normal. I now know I am sick. I am not my illnesses, and no this is not normal. And that’s OK.
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Thinkstock photo by MesquitaFMS