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I Thought Strong Black Women Didn't Get Depression

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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.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

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Thinkstock photo by MesquitaFMS

Originally published: January 18, 2017
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