Growing up, I often glazed over the word "depression," often assuming it was a label for something that only affected, white wealthy people. It wasn't until my dad took his own life that I realized depression not only affects Black people, but it can affect those closest to you.
I didn't know how to help my dad at the time or what words to say because — again — I didn't think that was something that could consume someone so dear to me. Also, like many others, I used the words "depression" and "sadness" interchangeably — but Black people can hurt too, ya know?
Depression is not merely a "white people problem," nor is it something that can be "prayed away." To dispel the BS we've probably once heard about depression while growing up, we've compiled a list more tactical advice in an effort to destigmatize the misunderstood illness and inspire those whose lives are affected by depression to keep pushing, keep your head up, and keep doing the damn thing.
- Depression is not a "white people" thing. It can affect anyone of any race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, class or age.
- You can't pray depression away. I know.
- #ICantToday. Say "no" and mean that sh*t.
- Live for yourself. It’s OK to be selfish and focus on yourself without feeling guilty. Sometimes being selfish is a necessary part of self-preservation.
- Little accomplishments deserve being celebrated, too. Just getting out of the bed some days can be a challenge, and should be rewarded. So whether you splurge on extra dessert or take a little extra time in your usual morning routine to pull together your best look, don't hesitate to do what you need to treat yo' self.
- But on days when all you want to do is stay in the bed — have mercy.
- Don’t apologize for your emotions and what you’re going through. As Beyoncé once said, "I ain't sorry." You’re human and we all experience life differently. Know that your feelings don’t need validation from anyone.
- Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and open up. Expressing your emotions honestly or even crying is not a sign of weakness, despite what we may have been told while growing up.
- Find your purpose. You weren’t placed on Earth for nothing.
- Find your happy place, even if it’s a person, song, movie or activity.
- Find an outlet or a hobby. It will keep you busy and help you feel productive.
- Track your progress. A mood journal can help you track your feelings and monitor your growth.
- Know your triggers.
- Don’t mask your emotions with toxic behavior. Drugs, alcohol, toxic people — all 'dat.
- Stay away from bugaboos. Seriously, keep toxic people out of your space — periodt.
- Though you should always consult a professional, also having a strong support system within your inner circle is useful. Even if there's only one person in your life who you trust implicitly, having someone to open up to who knows you as well as you know yourself can be a convenient cathartic outlet.
- At the same time, do remember that your friends aren’t your therapists, boo. While it’s important to keep a support group around you, they aren’t trained to provide you with the help you may need.
- Keep fighting. Maintaining joy takes effort, so no matter the root cause, anticipate putting in a degree of work. Expect for the marathon to continue and WERK. WERK. WERK.
- You are capable of amazing things. Know it; believe it.
Talking about depression isn't easy and too often we suffer in silence because of toxic myths we were taught growing up. Don't let your upbringing or cultural misinformation stop you from taking responsibility for your life. Because honestly, we could all use some therapy.
If you or someone you know is coping with depression, visit HalfOfUs.com for additional resources.