May 28, 2008

"It crept up on her in small steps until the morning she woke to find the full weight of her old enemy sitting heavy on her chest. "I’m back," it leered."

For some, Ayo’s experience in from Dusk to Dawn is exactly how it happens. Instead of the unpredictable vibrancy of every day, life slowly turns to flat line shades of gray. “What difference does it make? Why bother?” are the answers to every question. The only reason for getting out of bed is responsibility to a loved one who needs you or a job that puts gas in your tank, a roof over your head and food on the table.

Depression is a condition I describe as being shut behind an iron door with no windows, no knobs and no way out. Well-meaning friends and family offer their opinions and advice. If you’re peri-menopausal, post-menopausal or anywhere in between, it must be the hormones. Some chalk it up to a temporary blue mood -“don’t worry; you’ll be alright. ” Others insist that all you need is prayer. But when the blue mood stretches into days and weeks, seek help. Think about it; you might pray for relief from a toothache, but you'd still call the dentist! Depression is an illness, not a weakness. And God helps those who help themselves.

Are African-Americans more inclined to see help for physical ailments rather than mental illness?

As descendants of people who have endured and overcome, do we see mental illness as a weakness?

Are men less likely than women to seek help?


  1. Are African-Americans more inclined to see help for physical ailments rather than mental illness?

    Yes. It's ok to tell people I broke this or I have this, but never does anyone want to admit to needing the help of a psychiatrist.

    As descendants of people who have endured and overcome, do we see mental illness as a weakness ?

    I believe so. Of course I can be wrong but I do feel as if many believe to receive help because something is bothering the mind it seems like you are weak and cannot deal with the world.

    Are men less likely than women to seek help?

    No man wants to go and babble to some stranger about what's going on in their life that they can't seem to handle. Women are always looking for someone to release the strain on their minds.

  2. Thanks for posting, JC. The catch-all phrase for anything to do with mental illness was "crazy" and nobody wanted to be seen as out of control and out of their mind. I agree completely about men - even with physical ailments, unless some part of their body is hanging by a thread, too many men avoid doctors like the plague!

  3. Excellent post sis!
    Unfortunately mental illness is still a taboo in the AfAm many folks say 'it's hard enough being black without adding crazy to it.' sigh.
    Having been on the edge...I know that it is real and just as folks seek help...beyond prayer for diabetics, high blood pressure, asthma, high chlolestorol and whatever else that ails us...we should not be ashamed to seek help when we seem to be on mental overload...because sometimes prayer isn't enough. If it were then no diabetic would need insulin...folks with high blood pressure wouldn't need pills...
    as far as men...there's a reason that women live longer than them...we're the smarter sex and we know that sometimes it is bigger than you and you need to seek help.

  4. Thanks, Yas. There's all kind of strengths. Sometimes people are strongest when they admit the need for help. That first step in taking their heads out of the sand is pretty powerful, because it means a willingness to seek help and most importantly, to save their lives.

  5. I agree that we are less inclined to seek help with mental illness, but not for the reason of weakness. We have a distrust of doctors, government and bureaucracies--and with good historical reason. The fear is more one of having a 'black mark' on our 'record,' and how that may adversely affect our employability. Yasmin put is more succinctly--it's hard enough being Black.

    Men have a harder time because they don't have a brotherhood in the way that women have a sisterhood. A woman can tell her girlfriend 'I could just kill my kid,' or 'I'm so sick of my mother' or 'I'm so sick of this bleeding.' She will get sympathy, a listening ear, maybe a referral to a good doctor, and perhaps a story better than hers. She comes away from the conversation relieved. Can you imagine a man having that kind of conversation with his buddy? They are raised to talk to each other about sports and chicks.

  6. Thanks Evelyn - now that's a whole other perspective that we sometimes overlook. As usual, you've given us more than food food for thought, but a whole banquet, smorgasbord, feast... :)