Even The Mighty Get Weary: My Battle With Depression

depression

Major depression and factors associated with depression were more frequent among members of minority groups than among Whites.

*Source https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1199525/ *

This past year has been tremendously difficult. An extraordinarily arduous time for me (and my family) due to untimely, soul-wrenching deaths  ( my stepfather, followed by my Daddy and now my grandmother) and the termination of my marriage. *Read about it here* 

It’s been a series of indescribable devastation and grief with, seemingly, no pot of gold at the end of this oppressively, gloomy ass rainbow. But here I stand.

Black Americans and Caribbean Latinos are more likely to  not be treated for depression even though we are more likely to suffer from it. Mental health issues in our community are not taken as seriously as they should be.

It is a well-known fact that blacks were/are often used as guinea pigs in medicine via white medical “professionals”. The Tuskegee Experiment, white neurosurgeons experimenting with black boys in Mississippi during the 60’s and 70’s and the Genetic Violence Research Experiment by Columbia University in New York during the 90’s are just a few of the many remnants of white America’s medical reign of terror on blacks and latinos.

Although we have very valid and genuine fears and cause for concern, we can’t continue to not treat ourselves. Our lives depend on it. My life depended on it.

My faith helped but it cannot make me better. Depression can't be prayed away.
My faith helped but it cannot make me better. Depression can’t be prayed away.

I was spiraling out of control and quickly. Although I was surprisingly functional, I managed to write, stay, partially-active on social media, pay bills and even stay active in my ilé;  I was becoming a danger to myself and others. My anger and grief caused emotional tornadoes where in which- my rage would have me wanting to punch everybody in the face to collapsing into a sobbing baby at any moment. This was a daily occurrence.

I hated and loved my people at the same time. I wanted to be around them and for them to leave me the fuck alone all at once. I wanted to live and die simultaneously. Yes, I wanted to die. But being an additional cause of my daughter’s and family’s already fragile mental states would not be something I carried with me into the after life. Besides, my egun, especially my Daddy,  would kick my ass and SEND ME BACK FOR COPPING OUT. It wasn’t worth it.

All of this happened while my daughter spent the summer away. Thank God.

But I swore that I was fine though.

This is grief, right?

I am mentally strong. I repeat. I. AM. MENTALLY. STRONG.  Except even the mighty get weary.. even the mighty get weary.

You cannot pray depression away.

One of the biggest misconceptions in our community is that depression can be “prayed away”.  We have, traditionally, relied on faith to get us through many of life’s ups and downs. We pray for the winning lotto numbers, for it not to rain on Keisha’s wedding day, for Julio’s hooptie to start and even for Pookie to make it through high school.

I get it. We pray. But prayer doesn’t cure mental illness or acute mental health issues. Praying doesn’t prevent suicidal thoughts or the feeling of completely losing control. It didn’t restore my appetite causing me to lose roughly 40 pounds within a span of two and a half months. Nor did it satiate my rage. Prayer didn’t stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks at the many triggers which reminded me of my Mufasa  and my stepfather, Pedro, daily.

I SUFFER AND HAVE BEEN FORMALLY DIAGNOSED WITH CLINICAL MAJOR DEPRESSION.

I was “unofficially” diagnosed by my younger sister who happens to be an amazing psychologist. But due to ethical factors like “conflict of interest” and her being knee-deep in the same issues of grief, one of the people whom I trust most in the world could not treat me.

I, probably, would not have sought treatment had my mami and sister not intervened. They were willing to walk away from their jobs and other responsibilities to make sure that I was ok. They loved me enough to sacrifice their own mental health to help me with mine. The two surviving members of my nuclear family, fighting through their own grief, deserved better than what I was offering.

I did not want that on my conscience.

So, I got help. White therapists and black men were not options for me, I scoured the web and asked for referrals. I found a mental health professional with whom I identified. And she is phenomenal. On my personal Facebook statuses, I hinted at needing help and not being ok. I offered teasers of my despair. I spoke about my sadness but this is the first time that I’ve openly and HONESTLY spoken about being suicidal and not being able to cope.

And I write this in tears because had it not been for my family, I wouldn’t be here. Keka would not be here. Reading this gives me chills…

Even the mighty get weary and we are not required to carry all of our burdens. Even your therapist has a therapist. Believe me.

Get help. You are not crazy. I am not crazy. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. We wouldn’t high blood pressure untreated. Our minds are just as important.

We can overcome depression.

I am still a work in progress. I see a therapist twice a week for grief as well as the ending of my marriage. I have homework and my daughter has even accompanied me to one of my sessions. I still cry and I still rage out but I am now in better control of my emotions. I’ve also renewed my love of working out which provides natural endorphins to lift the spirit. I have a 40 pound head start. I feel better. Not amazing but better and every day gets a little brighter.

I am learning that…

I am mentally strong. I repeat. I. AM. MENTALLY. STRONG.

 

K.

 

 

 

 

K. Araújo, a native Detroiter, is a cross between Claire Huxtable, Rosie Pérez and Millie Jackson. Widow, professional dragger of filth and Mami to the dopest Ethiopian EVER, she is the Editor in Chief of “Negra With Tumbao” and a Staff Writer for “The Urban Twist”. Keka has been known to shake what her mama gave her, is the hell and high water, an expert salsera and cussologist with a penchant for the finer things in life and is and forever shall be- unapologetically black.

  • Val

    “You cannot pray depression away.”

    Say it from the mountain tops!

    I’m not only glad you are getting help but also happy that you have looked for a therapist that you will be comfortable with.

    Hang in there!

    • Thank you, Sis!! I LOVE HER!! A bad ass sister…. I ain’t going nowhere! <3

  • Cedric

    “My faith helped but it cannot make me better. Depression can’t be prayed away.”

    Words to live by! Glad you did!

  • Darkchloe144

    To overcome so much proves you are as mighty as they come. Awesome, inspirational read! ☺

    • I didn ‘t do it alone, Sis!! 🙂 I know there are people who don’t have the support system I have… that was a major part of this battle.

  • VeronicaMars

    Great read love. Thank you for pointing out that pray doesn’t take away depression. Our people can and will often dismiss depression as just a phase and you can get rid of it by praying. You can’t. It’s a work in progress. It’s daily work. I’m happy that you’ve found a therapist. I was referred to a new therapist, a black lady, recently, but I haven’t been able to pull the trigger. I hope to soon.

    • Every word of this… why haven’t you pulled the trigger though? We gotta get you going!

  • Mary Burrell

    Bless you Sis you are in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Mary Burrell

    Our faith gives us strength to get through our hard times I am praying for you NWT. I too have my bouts with depression and anxiety. Do self care Sis.

    • Thank you, SIs!! I am a big advocate of self-care… and prayer but I also know that I needed help, Are you getting help?

  • “You cannot pray depression away.”

    The other day my friend who is bi-polar told me he stopped taking his meds and relies on prayer. I’m so worried about him. I wish I could get him and others to understand what he’s doing.

    • With good reason, we are so suspicious of the medical world…but we really need to have spaces for folks to come forward and say… “Hey, I’m being treated!”
      I know that is difficult but it really can save a life… I wrote this for that very reason. I hope your friend goes back to taking his meds… He, also, needs to advocate for himself.. If the meds make him feel crazy, he needs to tell them to adjust it.

      • One of his reasons is that he doesn’t like the side-effects. I wanted him to get him to re-calibrate them but nah. What I’m afraid of is that his problematic wife mitgates things.

  • NonyaB🎯

    {{{HUGS}}}

    Even the mighty get weary and we are not required to carry all of our burdens. Even your therapist has a therapist.
    Amen and kudos for getting help, NWT! You’ve been hit by so much in so little time and deserve to recalibrate with as much help as required. Wishing you better times ahead, one day at a time.

  • jannah zakee

    You are mentally strong! Thank you so much for sharing. I appreciate you taking the shroud of shame & secrecy off depression. You are definitely in my prays. All the best to you sis.

  • PinkRose

    My favorite saying when it comes to Black folks and mental health is, sometimes you need prayer, sometimes you need Prozac, and sometimes you need prayer AND Prozac!

  • Persephone Jones

    I wish you luck with getting your depression under control.

    Dr. Stephen Ilardi is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Kansas. He has a book called “The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs”. You can go on Amazon and read the reviews of his book.
    I’m in the process of implementing his protocol for my own depression. He has successfully treated several hundred people that have depressive illnesses. There are 2 YouTube videos in which he explains his work: “Stephen Ilardi: Therapeutic Lifestyle Change for Depression” and “TED Talk with Stephen Ilardi – The Depression Cure Without Drugs”