A Day in the Life of Depression
It’s 3 AM. I stare out of the window at a cloudless night and listen to the silence. I can’t sleep. Again. My therapist tells me I should exercise for my mental health, but how can I do that if I’m dragging myself out of bed every day? Because of this insomnia, I’m just too tired to do much else but survive. She also tells me that I have anxiety, even though I made it clear that I don’t feel anxious. “Overwhelmed” or “burnt the hell out” is probably a better description. Life has been so much lately that it makes me want to shut down. It is only my son that keeps me going.
I walk into my son’s room and see his chest fall up and down. Peace. At least someone in this house has it, and I feel a gratefulness for that. I whisper a prayer for him, wondering if anyone truly hears.
6 AM. Coffee made. Time to get dressed. My body hurts, and I don’t know why. I suppose I’ll chuck it up to my incessant wrestle with sleep. I get my son dressed and together we head out, coffee in hand. I drop him off with a hug and take a deep breath before I pull away. I feel nothing. Or maybe it’s sadness. Yes, a combination of empty and sad, and I ask myself what is the point of my job…or let alone my life?
I allow a tear to drop, just in time to hit the freeway. Why do I feel like this? I should be grateful. I have a beautiful son who loves me, a job that pays my bills, and friends and family that I know sincerely care. I turn on some music to hopefully drown out the despair.
Parked. About to walk in. Another deep breath as I check for runny mascara streaks. There is no time for feelings. I just have to “be strong”. Yes, dry the tears, put on the plastic smile and say hello to all the other co-workers and their fake-ass smiles. I turn off the thoughts telling me that my life is meaningless, and try to replace them with God is good. I know He is…but I just can’t feel it. I whisper under my breath, hoping it works for once, “I am strong, I can get through this. I have to do this for my son. I will make it…at least another day”.
**This is a fictional story. No client information has been used**
**Obscenities are used to enhance genuine feeling. Please excuse.**
Where Does Depression Come From?
Depression isn’t just caused by messed up brain chemicals. Yes, chemicals are involved, but did you know that stress can cause these chemicals to become imbalanced? (See for more info). Prolonged or chronic stress can lead to depression! What’s also difficult is that depression often operates in a cycle, so that the things you could do the help manage it, like exercise, often require too much energy.
Usually the recommendation for depression treatment is therapy, and/or medication (depending a doctor’s diagnosis). Yes, depression is treatable, and yes symptoms can be reduced!
Black women, as well as other women of color, have a greater tendency to ignore their symptoms and push past feelings in order to survive, take care of others, etc. It is important, however, to recognize your feelings and symptoms, and take steps towards breaking the depression cycle! Although these suggestions cannot replace the care of a physician and therapist, here are some common ways you can help manage your depression:
- Connect with others (friendships, close connections, community, church, etc.)
- Move your body (dance, exercise, yoga)
- Eat well and sleep well (as much as you can)
Most of all, be kind to yourself. You are learning to recognize your feelings and make your mental health a priority.