This wasn’t written to knock anyone else’s mental health journey. This wasn’t written to take away from anyone else’s experiences. This was written to fill in the gaps that I think this article skipped. This was written for those of us who know anxiety and depression a little differently.
This past Monday I came across an article on xoNecole entitled, “How I Found Out I Was Suffering From Genetic Depression and Overcame It“. As I read the article, I had a few moments where I found myself nodding and agreeing with the author, Kandice, and her experience, but by the time I reached the end, I felt a tad bit uncomfortable, a little ashamed, and I’m not going to lie, I was angry.
I was uncomfortable because there seemed to be a lot things missing from this article. I was ashamed because there seemed to be a lot things missing from this article. And I was angry because there seemed to be a lot things missing from this article.
What this article basically told me was:
You can be cured of depression and anxiety
with the pop of a pill and a few moments to yourself and some therapy.
And that, I’m sorry to say, is a bold face lie.
Kandice’s article explained the feeling of being out of place and in denial perfectly. She also mentioned the stigma surrounding mental illness within the black community. The more we speak about this, the more lives we can save and maybe we can lessen the amount of people too ashamed to admit that they are suffering.
But there are a few things Kandice’s article overlooked. Let me try to fill in those gaps.
Depression and anxiety are nothing like a common cold. You can’t take a few days off to yourself, take a round of prescription meds, shake the sluggish feeling off, and viola, you’re “fixed”. Most people do not have the benefit of isolating for such long periods of time to even take care of themselves and the unwanted thoughts that torment them. That’s not how this works, though there are some of us who are patiently waiting for that magic pill that works just as previously described.
“In my experience, this shit is never over. I can learn to manage it but I don’t think depression is a hurdle I’ll just jump once.” – A close friend.
Coping with a mental health illness takes more than an epiphany. It takes work. Hard work. We have to make the decision every day along with everyone else to progress and to choose happiness. But unlike everyone else, this feels like moving a pile of bricks uphill. Daily.
Have you ever tried moving a pile of bricks uphill?
Hell, have you ever tried moving a pile of bricks?
It takes effort. It takes perseverance. It takes a level of mental commitment and endurance of pain that does not always go away once you stop pushing uphill. Situational depression is a lot different from Major Depressive Disorder. Situational depression can diminish, but the latter? That can not be overcome. That can be managed.
Which leads me to what most of America views as a mental health bandaid: prescription pills. What most people do not know is that prescription medication takes at least a month to work, and anywhere from up to a year for one to feel its full effects. With these certain medications comes a whirlwind of side effects that change the way you function day to day and you’re most likely going to have to try a few at different dosages to find one that works for you.
Therapy, the option that helps you unravel these unwanted thoughts and develop coping mechanisms, takes time. Before you can even get to working on the issues, you need to establish a level of comfort with your therapist. Without this comfort, there is no trust. With no trust, you’re wasting your time, (and money because therapist are not cheap).
But most importantly, a good support system and the will to manage your state of mind is everything. That is something I think both Kandice and I can agree on.
And with all of this, I’m not saying Kandice’s experience is invalid. Who am I to knock another person’s battle? I just wanted to set the record straight that depression and anxiety come in different forms. There is no size fits all. We all manage it differently, and with knowing this, I wanted to pen this note to those who felt the way I did after reading this article: That our fight against anxiety and/or depression is being downplayed. The fact of the matter is some experiences just happen to take a lot more time, a lot more effort, and often times, do not completely go away.