I am a Black Woman. I am a Christian. I am a Nurse. I also have clinically diagnosed Depression. I have wanted to write a piece on these four things for a while now. But unfortunately I still succumb to the stigma of it being a taboo subject as well. One less subject talked about among the holy. One less subject discussed amongst the black community, and chop it up to me being a nurse and yeah… sometimes I know too much information about theses things, which in turn causes my mind to drift. BUT being that July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, what better time than now, eh? And guess what? Someone you know has a mental health disorder too…I assure you. 1 in 5 people have some form of a Mental Health diosorder, be it depression, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, anxiety, OCD, etc. They do. The subject is spoken less of than it should be, because of the stigma that “they’re crazy”. They are not.
SO let’s talk about the first part of my identity that I mentioned: I am a Black woman. One of the most undiagnosed of the group. Why? Because it goes unrecognized, unmentioned, undiagnosed and most likely because of the “strong Black woman complex” we place upon ourselves…and a portion of it displaced onto us, unsolicited. We take on too much responsibility and we don’t’ do enough self care. Add some life trauma that hasn’t been addressed and… BOOM! Perfect combination for a less than favorable state of mental health. It goes unnoticed due to the fact that it may manifest itself in many different ways other than what most think of when they think of someone being “depressed”.
2: Lack of concentration
3: Memory loss
4: Increase in sleeping
5: Reckless behavior-(spending money, sex, increase in alcohol intake, and/or drug use)
Know someone? Is it you?
Ok, I’m a Christian. I know that the title of this piece probably caught several off guard. Good. Now, of course prayers are great. I appreciate each and every one of them, I do. But when someone is depressed, especially someone that professes to be a follower of Christ, saying “Just pray about it, it will be ok!” Can feel like a slap in the face, honestly. It’s dismissive; it’s insensitive. Like, how do you know that I don’t pray already? And please do not say, “You need to pray harder.” As if! If I could count the prayers and tears.. Anywho, you can not pray depression away. You can’t. It’s like telling someone with Diabetes or High blood pressure, just pray about it and not encouraging them to seek medical attention for maintenance of their disease. I had a Physician tell me once, “GOD is everywhere, he’s in the medicine, he’s with the physicians and therapists too, he sent them here to help us. You have to remember that. It’s ok to get help”. Mental health disorders are very real, just because you can not see them, doesn’t mean that they do not exist. Or do you see them and are just not aware of what they really are? Hmmm.
Know someone? Is it you?
Now, let’s add in the fact that I am a nurse. I’ve been a nurse for 13 years. Over the years, I’ve taken care of plenty of people with mental health disorders. Plenty. There is such a thing as knowing too much information, I don’t care what anyone says. So in my own case, after I was (officially) diagnosed with depression I immediately started medication and therapy. Being that I am a nurse, I literally waltzed in the Doctor’s office and told him exactly what I wasn’t going to take, because I knew how certain medications would affect me. Cocky much Nikki?! *face palm* Anyway, within a month, needless to say, I ended my own treatment. I didn’t like the side effects and I honestly felt like I didn’t need anyone else to help me sort out my feelings, they were MY feelings. Right? Arrgh.** Side note-Nurses, you don’t know it all. I know you feel as though you do, but, nah. Let someone help you. **Well fast-forward over the years, I had to learn to become vulnerable to the process. AND not be a know-it-all. The process of finding the right Physician, medications, and a Therapist is time consuming and quite frustrating, but it can happen!
SO what do you say to someone who is depressed or experiencing an episode of their mental health disorder? I’m glad you asked!
1. “Do you want to talk about it?”
2. “How has this affected you?”
3. “What can I do to help?”
4. “I’ll give you space, but I’m here for you whenever you want to reach out”.
5. “I love you/ I care.”
Hopefully, this has helped someone. Someone that is on the fence about seeking help, somone that has seen symptoms in a loved-one or friend, but is unsure how to approach them or what to say.
Know someone? Is it you? If so, know that you are not alone and you will get through this. Please ask for help. I will always be an advocate, because I am 1 in 5.
Blessings and hugs,