It’s taken me a while to finally blog about this topic and even longer to admit it to myself out of fear of feeling like a failure, fear of being looked at as weak and just fear of being vulnerable. Even as I’m typing these words I just want to press delete and write about something more lighthearted but I know that I won’t be at peace if I just ignore it, so here it goes….
Where I come from no one ever talks about the D word. Sure, you can feel down for a day or even two but that’s not depression, we’re taught to believe. Where I come from it’s called life and you get over it and get on with things. There’s even a saying “black people don’t go to counselling, blacks people go to church”. I was also a believer of this until recently. Now I know that there is nothing wrong with admitting that you may be suffering from depression. In fact, there’s something very empowering about a person who is able to acknowledge that there is a problem and seek help.
I’d heard of post natal depression before I was pregnant and even more so during my pregnancy. If heard of woman not wanting to get out of bed most days or crying for absolutely no reasons. I’d also heard of women having dark thoughts. That could never be me, I convinced myself. Although my depression is considered mild, I have been down and teary more times than I’d like to admit. At first I put it down to just baby blues. After all, most women have the blues after giving birth – it’s the hormones, they say. What happens though when the blues just don’t go away. When the thought of leaving the house is stressful and driving is now terrifying. When even doing the normal everyday things you used to love now feels like a challenge. When your mood swings left to right, up and down and starts to affect your relationships. Is it still baby blues? Or could it be post natal depression!
I write this because there are many like me out there who may be suffering but are afraid to ask for help because they do not want to be judged or criticised by loved ones. Many women of Afro-Caribbean background still feel like depression is taboo. I’m here to tell you that depression and mental illness is not taboo. It is a reality as much as happiness and good health are. It affects everyone regardless of race, creed, gender or faith. Yes, prayer helps if you believe in it. Yes, I’m a Christian and believe in the power of prayer. Yes, I have been taking my situation to the Lord but there are also tools, resources and people out there who have the expertise to help – no judgement allowed. Why would you go to see a doctor for an illness and not go see someone for depression? Religious beliefs have nothing to do with it. Weakness has nothing to do with it. If anyone tells you otherwise, gladly show them the door.
It is important as mothers that we look after and take care of our health – physical AND mental alike, so we can better look after and take care of our children and families. So whoever you are reading this, I encourage you to own your situation like the Queen that you are and take the necessary steps to get better first for yourself and then for those you love. Ain’t no shame in asking for help, ladies!