Ryan Stephenson has the outward appearance of confidence. As she walks her walk, slow and deliberate with a smoothly defined sway in her hips, she exudes certainty and assurance. She is a successful accountant with a prominent Detroit based firm. She dresses in expensive couture and drives a high-priced foreign car. Her dark chocolate skin, silky black hair, and coke-bottle figure are sought after by every man she encounters. But no one knows the anguish she endures from within. She’s suffering from depression and she doesn’t know how to cope with the pain.
Excerpt from Who Is He To You:
A blanket of silence covered the small office. Ryan’s eyes watered as she prepared to answer her therapist’s question. She felt like the walking dead, a zombie in the twilight zone. She had been feeling that way for weeks. She could barely make it out of bed in the morning. Her body was heavy and her head pounded with a migraine. She showed up to work two hours late. She hated her job. Once she got there, she cried for no reason until her supervisor sent her home. Her appetite was almost completely gone. She ate only when she reminded herself to do so; most of the time she forgot. She was irritable, lonely, and miserable. She felt like she was dying from a slow death. Her life was falling apart. She was losing her mind.
There is an apparent cultural divide when it comes to treating depression with therapy. It seems that African Americans are less likely to embrace the idea of baring all and sharing their feelings with a therapists. It is considered taboo to seek the help of a shrink and even more so to talk about it. Why is that? Is it that we’re afraid of being labeled as crazy? If you see a therapist does that mean you’re crazy? I don’t think so. I see nothing wrong with sharing your feelings with an unbiased professional. Sometimes you just need to let it all out to someone who won’t judge you or allow selfish motives to override his or her ability to give viable advice. Talk, let it out, especially if you’re depressed. Depression is often caused by a build up of emotions, events, stress, and/or dysfunctional relationships. What happens when you hold all of that hurt, anger, and pain inside? Overload. You need an outlet. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you are depressed and you need help. Yes, there is a chance that you can snap out of it on your own, but the chances are slim and the problem may be reoccurring. Why go at it alone when you don’t have to? Holding it in can lead you to self-medicate with drugs, alcohol or self-injury. Then you have whole new problems to deal with.
It may be hard for some to admit that they need help, but what is the alternative? You sink deeper and deeper into a dark and dismal existence, battling feelings of hopelessness and desolation. It’s a dangerous place to be. Black people, it’s okay to talk to a therapist! If you don’t want anyone to know, don’t tell. But if you are suffering through a depression, it’s important to let it out. TALK, get someone on your side and start your road to recovery. You are not alone.
Do you know anyone that is suffering from depression? Have you been depressed before? Are you depressed now? What can you do about it?
To learn more about depression and what you can do about it, please visit: www.depression.com
To learn more about Ryan and her battle with depression, pick up a copy of Who Is He To You at www.MoniqueDMensah.com