That gorgeous smile. The pearly whites showing. The head tilted back in laughter. The “boss babe” look. All faces of depression. All the faces of someone who really does love life but doesn’t always feel like she can make it through life.
Listen, I am a wellness motivator, coach and professional. 20 years in the business and have covered a lot of ground: mentored, held managerial positions, and taught everything you can think of.
Fortunately, I own my business and have helped others run their businesses. I love being part of the process of helping women find their voice, rise up and reach for their own power, strength and beauty. It is an honor, to be honest. And I am here for anyone that needs me and will allow the weight of anyone’s world to lay squarely on my shoulders. I am built for that.
All the while I am making sure my people are taken care of, depression is a constant part of my life.
Honestly, it gets on my nerves when I tell someone about my depression and they shrug and say, “Hey, everyone gets depressed, no big deal”. And then, there’s the well-intended “you’ll feel better” as if there is one thing that made you feel a little low.
This is not something that is based on what is going on in my life. Although I have had some tremendous setbacks and survived and dealt with some horrible trauma, I am so blessed to be here. I am a warrior, and a fighter. Lovingly surrounded by the most incredible family, friends and sorority. Me, a lover of life and proud to be a Black woman who loves being a global citizen.
The world is mine to conquer! Yay, me! So no, this is not about happenings, incidences or occurrences. Can some things trigger and shake me from my “strong” façade? Yes, indeed! But it is not what makes me depressed. Depression is always here. Always. Even when I am laughing with friends who make my heart sing and dance, it is still here.
Let me give you a peek into my personal experience.
Depression for me is like a continuous knocking on my door. A soft, but persistent knocking nonetheless… just to let me know it is still there. Then it gets a little louder, the same persistent knocking. With that, I can’t ignore it anymore.
I try my best to be busy, go out, talk on the phone, even drink, to not have to deal with that gnawing feeling, that incessant knocking. Then that level knocking turns into a steady pounding and I have to fight even harder to get this under control. The fight is an all out battle raging within me – all while carrying on like a “normal”person.
Now this is where it gets damn near impossible to function: The more I fight, the more elevated this becomes. I have bouts of shortness of breath, fighting back tears at any moment, taking every ounce of life within me to get out of bed – or even get off the floor.
Yes, the floor because sometimes that is where I wind up when it’s too much energy to get to my bed. I love what I do and adore my clients and students but it can become a chore when I am fighting to mentally function.
Motivate, teach, enjoy my work AND fight this damn monster, too??? Oh man…. That’s not even the highest level of what this depression feels like for me. That loud, incessant pounding I referred to? It can turn into the thunderous sound of someone continuously trying to kick the door in. So intense that it can shake me even when I think I am at my strongest and ready to fight. I can’t get out of bed. I disappear (some of my closest friends have witnessed this). I become evasive.
Ask me how I am doing and you will not get an answer out of me. I have no answer. I am barely functional. Just let me exist, please. I don’t know how to live or every once in a while if I even want to. It’s a hard time. I am always exhausted at this point because I am fighting with every fiber of my being to take the heaviness off.
Sometimes I feel so helpless, as if I will never get rid of the heaviness that never seems to leave. Yes, along with the “pounding” there is a heaviness that just gets heavier and heavier. This point for me I have come to call episodes. When it’s over, I return to that gentle knocking and can go on about my smiling business, ignoring the knocking until it gets louder.
Thankfully, I am not doing this alone.
It took me some time to seek help. I went for help with my bulimia but left out some really key components because I felt it was already the sign of a weak- minded person that I couldn’t get it under control. That attitude is gone.
My amazing therapist, Jhiree Jones, LCSW has given me some tools for my mental toolbox and provides a space for me to be raw, honest and vulnerable. I have much love for her. Powerfully, she rolls with my ups and downs and is lovingly raw and real. And I need that.
So, I need to be real and to work on this healing. Thankfully, I also have my yoga, meditation, a whole supplement and diet regimen and honestly, wine with friends. Love my friends. With the help of my therapist, I am learning to be honest with them about what I am feeling.
No longer do I feel ashamed, embarrassed or even weak. Depression is a part of me but not the definition of who I am. This part doesn’t take away from how deliciously yummy I am as a human being or from the glorious melanated vision of beauty I am. Yeah, I spread that pretty thick but you get the point.
Since I am being as raw as possible here, I have to tell you this was nearly impossible for me to write. I have referenced and alluded to my depression. And further, spoke on taking mental health issues seriously, especially in the black community. Those were general statements to let you all know how important an issue this is for me and why. It is to let you in on what this does to me. To share just a sliver of the experiences of so many others like me.
This is personal, and it makes me feel incredibly vulnerable to welcome you all in behind the “veil”. This is my daily struggle and daily triumph all wrapped up in one. It is a struggle to get up and function on many levels and a triumph when I can get up and function on any level.
There is a heavy burden in the midst of the daily struggle with depression but also triumph in the midst of that tragedy.
One of the tools to call upon is which you will choose to believe. Moreso lately, I have chosen to see the triumph. Knowing I am not alone and finding strength in those who fight the same fight is empowering.
I can only hope that you all out there know I am just one voice. We are out here fighting the good fight and making a way to be okay. We are unashamed and not alone.