“This is who I am and this is my truth”
I’ll just rip the band-aid off – I suffer with depression. My sister and mom brought it to my attention a few years ago, but I recently accepted it as my truth. Why do I want to speak about this now? Because in the past, I have let it control my life. I let it control my emotions, my motivation, and ultimately, the outcome of my life. Not this time!
I woke up one day in October 2018 with the realization that my depression had reared its ugly head once again. To be honest, this isn’t something that is very uncommon within the African American community. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, approximately 16% of African Americans have been diagnosed with some form of mental health illness in 2014. For myself, I remember a few years ago just moving back from California to Michigan and various choices and circumstances in my life going on, I was partially feeling like a failure. I didn’t quite understand it or know what was going on. My mother could see the signs and suggested that maybe I was dealing with depression - something she was far too familiar with herself. It took me a little while to grasp the concept of having depression myself.
This time around, I started to see signs of it days prior – being unengaged with my girlfriend, not having a desire to do much of anything, and also being short-tempered. You could call it “seasonal” depression, but I prefer not to because I feel you diminish the severity of it when you just label it to a certain time of year.
As an entrepreneur, I have found it harder over the last couple of years to cope with it –mainly because of my denial of having it to begin with but, also, because I need to be outgoing and engaging to generate business and deal with my clients on a daily basis. That’s how I eat. But this year, I’m taking a different approach.
One of the first things I did when I realized my depression was present was to accept it. This is who I am and this is my truth. I can’t waste time denying it because that does no one any good. Secondly, I sat my then girlfriend down and told her about it and explained it to her. As soon as I did this, it was like a weight was lifted and I began to feel better. I told her what I was going through and explained to her what I needed not only from her, but in general. What I needed was a couple of days to adjust to my current mood. I knew I wasn’t always going to be (naturally) cheerful and perky as I had been and because of that, I had to work twice as hard to focus on my happiness for the sake of my relationships and my business. Another thing that was needed for myself during this time was to talk about it. There are a lot of people, especially within the African American and Black community that don’t talk about it. There is this stigma attached to mental health and various forms that are still very taboo. As soon as I started to talk about it within my circles, so many people started to pour out to me and share their stories. Through those conversations, helping people became the most important part of dealing with my depression.
If there’s one thing you should know about me is that I’m an authentic person and I don’t want to paint this false picture of me that everything is okay all the time. Because it isn’t – and that’s okay, too. I am okay and dealing with it because of my amazing support system that I am so grateful and thankful for everyday. Unfortunately, not everyone is fortunate enough to have people around them like that. If you are one of those people, please let me know how I can help you.