Depression doesn’t have a face

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I told a close friend that I had depression, and she said I don’t look like a person that has depression and suggested that we pray. I loved her for suggesting that we pray but I don’t think she understood that depression can’t simply be prayed away.

Mental health issues within the black community, I think, are not taken seriously because we don’t have enough conversations about the condition. When one says they can’t do work because they feel demotivated, they’re lazy, never depressed. If one says they feel a bit under the weather, they’re being moody or grumpy, never depressed. When one says they can’t face people or get out of bed, they’re being rude and anti-social, never depressed.

I was conversing with a friend about the lack of awareness about depression within the black community and she told me about her uncle. He was the life of the party, the most optimistic person she had ever seen. Everyone liked being in his company but one day he was found hanging from a ceiling because no one knew about his depression, not even himself. I think there’s a stigma around depression in the black community, there’s a misconception that one is unable to function and live a full life because they are depressed. When you mention “mental health issues”, the first thing that comes to mind is a mental asylum. That misconception has to stop.

It’s time that we start realising that depression is real, it’s time that we educate each other about mental health issues. It’s time that create spaces where everyone is safe and free to speak about their condition. It’s time that we remove the stigma that comes with depression. It’s time that we take time to understand and acknowledge the severity of depression.

How does my depression look like?

There was a time when I closed off and didn’t allow people to see my soul. There was a time when I would pretend like I was okay when my soul was slowly breaking into pieces. There was a time when I would be happy at one moment and be sad the next. I would be superwoman, aiming to assist anyone that needs assistance but refusing to be assisted. Nothing much has changed but through support and counselling I’ve managed to pull myself together, because I have a fantastic support structure that is willing to listen and understand when I tell them I’m sad for no apparent reason, I am truly blessed. I refuse to allow myself to live in a body that’s constantly in a battle with a mind that refuses to live. I am not depression, depression is a condition that happens to be part of who I am. It’s taken time for me to understand that, but today I do.

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Sometimes:

  1. Sometimes we hang on to friendships and romantic relationships to prove our loyalty and dedication but all of that is a futile exercise if the person you’re hanging on to is not emotionally available to acknowledge it. It becomes draining in all forms to constantly prove that you’re a great person, that you’re their joy bringer and I think that stems from the way some of us approach relationships. My mother once told me that you can’t befriend someone with the intent to change or fix them. Sometimes people can’t be changed by other people and it doesn’t matter how much you convince them that their actions are toxic they won’t see your point. People change when they’re ready to change.
  2. Sometimes people hang on to toxic relationships because they fear solitude. Society has enabled us to normalise certain situations and scenarios to the extent that it seems almost unnatural for a person to remain single for a long time. It seems as though there’s something wrong with enjoying your own company and using that time to work on yourself, educating yourself and determining what works and doesn’t work for you.
  3. Sometimes, love just isn’t enough. It’s possible for someone to claim to love you but act as though as they hate you. I think the reason for that is because we have different definitions and ideas of what love is and what it should feel like to be in love. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to convince someone that they’re not loved by the person who claims to love them but of course they couldn’t understand where I was coming from because we have different ideas of what love is.
  4. Sometimes scars are not physical. I’ve had to explain this time and time again to my guy friends. When you hurt a woman you claim to love you’re slapping her, kicking her, punching her, stabbing her, shooting her over and over again but you will not see the scars physically because it’s not the body that you’re hurting but it’s the emotions, it’s the heart and that’s deeper because emotional hurt lasts much longer than physical scars.
  5. Sometimes, sometimes it’s all about respect. A man that continues to hurt you has lost respect for you. You’ve enabled him to disrespect you, you opened the doors for him to disrespect you but the same way that you opened the door, you can also close it!!
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