The Many Faces of Depression
September is Suicide Awareness month and as someone who deals with depression and has attempted to take their life this month is very important to me. Many that know me or remember my story from talknaija.org know that 9 years ago I was sexually assaulted. It was hard for me to share my story with the world because one I was ashamed and two coming from an immigrant home whose culture doesn't really protect the victim.... I mean you see where I am headed. Yet a few years ago I realized that keeping it in caused for me to become depressed. Mental Health isn't really spoken on in Nigerian homes, honestly many black homes at that equate mental health to "White Man things" which means it doesn't affect us.
Yet the face of depression doesn't have a skin color nor a geographical narrative. When I realized that my shame was suffocating me I knew I had to share. (Click to see me tell my story)
What is Depression: Depressive disorder, frequently referred to simply as depression, is not just the feeling of sadness. It’s a serious mental health condition that requires understanding and medical care. Left untreated, depression can be devastate the person experiencing it as well as their families. Early detection, diagnosis and treatment plans which my consist of medication, therapy and lifestyle changes, many people can and do get better.
Some will only experience one depressive episode in a lifetime, but for most, depressive disorder is a continuous battle. Without treatment, episodes may last a few months to several years.
More than 17 million U.S. adults—over 7% of the population—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. People of all ages and all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds experience depression, but it does affect some groups more than others.
My story: In 2010 while returning from the Library at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, I decided to take a short cut back to my apartment. It was late and as we know in winter its darker than in the summer. He walked up behind me and placed what I believed was a gun on my back. He forced me to the ground and forced himself inside me. I thought I screamed, i swear I was yelling, but no sound was coming out. In fact I probably wasn't eve speaking. I had no weapon, nothing to defend myself and my body, well she sold me out. She got wet for this intruder and I couldn't forgive her. I can't tell you why or what happened but suddenly he got up and he ran the opposite direction of me. I didn't think I pulled my sweats up and ran back to my apartment. I spent the next 48 hours in the shower. I scrubbed him off of me. I would stand in the shower use all the hot water and when it was finished sit on my bed crying until I could get back in the shower. I blamed myself, if I hadn't gone that way, if my body didn't react, everything I could think of I did. Finally I couldn't take it anymore, I sent my then boyfriend a text and took the pills. That day he saved my life, he barged into my home and got me to the hospital in time.
Counseling: In order to be released from the psych ward after my 72 hour hold, I had to agree to go to counseling. Again being African Theraphy is just like my shirt (Not For Everyone). Yet people see a pretty face, a happy smile and they assume you can't be depressed. You can't be upset or stressed because OMG what problems could you have.
Therapy was the best decision I was forced to make. Sitting on a couch sharing my feelings, talking about everything, not just the assault was the best release i cold have. I have spent the last 9 years in and out of therapy. There have been times I have felt that I didn't need it, I was good and could do it on my own. Hell there are some times that I am good, times when I don't need to vent or release because I am good. Then there are times when I am falling and need a release. Times i just need to talk to someone and not feel alone. Many it can be their pastor and for others they need a licensed professional who can also maybe prescribe some meds.
Motherhood has helped me stick to knowing that therapy is needed. Trying to balance it all I have realized that if I am not mentally sound I cannot be the mother this little man and my children to come. It can sometime overwhelming especially as a single mother who has a full time career, then I add my side tings and the activities my little one participates in, whew child. Yet my little one is my why. He is the reason I ensure I get help, ensure that when I feel like there is too much on my plate I get the help I need. Find your why, find what motivates you to be the best version of yourself, something or someone that your happiness will make the relationship better.
Finding a therapist that you feel you can connect with makes all the difference. Below are some resources I hope help you with your Journey. You can beat Depression, Press on it and you will continue to get better.
TalkNaija.org- This link takes you directly to the resource page of this site. All of the doctors on this site are of Nigerian Heritage.
Blackfemaletherapists.com- This link takes you directly to the directory page of this site. All professionals posted on this page are black women.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network (RAINN) 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673)
Self-Injury (Information only) (NOT a crisis line. Info and referrals only) 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)Adolescent Suicide Hotline 800-621-4000
Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK
Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-7233
Help Finding a Therapist 1-800-THERAPIST (1-800-843-7274)