All Articles Tagged "depression"
I am not sure about you, but I get a major case of the sads during the winter. Just last Sunday, I was watching Akeelah and the Bee and found myself bawling deep belly tears. And I couldn’t stop myself.
I didn’t understand why I was crying, but luckily I’ve learned that part of my journey as a brown girl trying to make sense of this world is that I don’t always have to have the answers. I’ve also learned that asking questions isn’t always helpful. Sometimes all my spirit needs from my intellect is space and acceptance.
Well, in the middle of the last snowstorm when I was locked in my house for two days on my second bout of uncontrollable crying, I heard a small voice say, “Chick, you can’t make it. You need something. You are fading.”
Right there, I went to LivingSocial and searched for an escape. After a few minutes, I found one.
I pulled out my credit card and booked a trip to Bermuda. Four days, three nights, airfare, and hotel. It cost $549 with taxes included.
Though I’ve been familiar with this strategy for close to nine years, 2015 was the first year my seasonal depression got so bad that I needed to get away. During one of our many sessions, my mentor and counselor Mrs. P. told me that she kept a carry-on packed for weekends when she needed to get the hell out of the city. Her particular destination wasn’t Bermuda, but it was Puerto Rico for the weekend.
Booking a flight to Bermuda for me was far from an impulse. My spirit was responding to the emotional emergency that was occurring in my soul.
As a personal finance coach, I encourage my Black girl clients to stash away money for emergencies like these, so they can swiftly respond to what Mama Oprah likes to call the “whispers” in their lives, without going into debt and feeling guilty.
If you know yourself well enough to know that you may need a getaway to help ward off seasonal blues, begin with as little as $20 a week. You won’t regret it.
Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at www.thefrugalfeminista.com Download her free ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan: Eliminate Debt, Know Your Worth, and Heal Your Relationship with Money in Just 5 Days. Join Kara’s closed $20 Cash Crash Diet Facebook Group to get some sistergirl support and accountability for reaching your savings goals.
In the last year we have heard more and more about Black women committing suicide. The first person that shocked us was Karyn Washington the creator of ForBrownGirls.com committed suicide at age 22. Then a few months ago Simone Battle committed suicide at age 25, she was on “X Factor” and in the pop group G.R.L. And then December 4, Titi Branch committed suicide at age 45, she was one half of the Miss Jessie’s hair empire. Although details of this most recent incident have not been released, it is important to know that mental illness is real and should not be ignored. It is very important if you are feeling down for an extended period of time that you seek help. Let’s admit we all get down for a day or two but if that turns into a week or more you need to seek professional help.
This time of year can be particularly hard for people who are single, have recently lost a loved one, or perhaps they are having financial hardships this holiday season. It is very important, if you can, to check on someone who you know may be alone this holiday season. Another suggestion would be invite any people you know are without family this season, to your family for the weekend to make certain they are not alone during the holidays. Here are some more tips to help prevent the holiday blues.
It is always best to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past. If that is not possible please try some of these helpful tips.
Express your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season. But try to set a time limit on those tears. If you try to find one thing to be grateful a day more things will come and you will one day realize you are no longer sad.
Help others: If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships. It is amazing how helping others will help you in return and maybe even more than the people you were helping.
Be Realistic: The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos. Be open to change and realize that it is inevitable.
Love your family: Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Set aside any arguments, differences until a more appropriate time for discussion. The dinner table is not the time to bring up conflict in the family nor verbally attack a family member. Be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
Don’t overspend. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.
Try these alternatives:
• Donate to a charity in someone’s name.
• Give homemade gifts. (cookies, cakes, bath soaps etc.)
• Start a family gift exchange.
Make a list and check it twice. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
Don’t be a people pleaser. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
Stay healthy, don’t forget to workout. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
Try these suggestions:
• Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
• Get plenty of sleep.
• Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
Relax, relate, release. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.
Some options may include:
• Taking a walk at night and stargazing.
• Listening to soothing music.
• Getting a massage.
• Reading a book.
Seek professional help if you need it. You may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. Please never be ashamed to seek help. The Crisis Call Center is available 24 hours a day (800)273-8255.
Dr. Renee Matthews has appeared on television shows such as “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and WGN’s “People to People” where she discussed different health topics. She started her media career with her own radio show on ReachMD, a programming source for health professionals. In addition Dr. Renee has been a featured medical correspondent on Sirius XM’s “Sway in the Morning.”
Dr. Renee earned her undergraduate degree in 1999 and her Medical Doctorate in 2005. She spent the early part of her medical career as an educator for numerous hospitals and attending staff on cord blood.
You can’t always look at a person and tell they’re depressed, just ask Lissa Alicia. The 23-year old writer and PR specialist from Philadelphia said most people she meets and interacts with at the various social functions she attends for business would probably describe her as happy; only her closest friends know that she suffers from the often debilitating disease known as depression.
“I’m really good at not showing my feelings,” Alicia said about the mask she wears in public. “Me and my mom didn’t have the closest relationship. And I was able to try to pretend that I was fine and okay. I don’t like people to know how I feel all the time. I feel like it makes me feel weak. And I really don’t want to be perceived as weak.”
In the beginning stage of her career as a PR rep and journalist, Alicia believes her image is very important to her success. As such, her work often means presenting a face to the world which may not necessarily reflect how she feels on the inside. She calls it “professional happy.” And it’s the societal adherence to this cultural normal, she said, which can make us feel like we have no choice but to suffer in silence, perhaps like Titi Branch, co-founder of Miss Jessie’s hair care products, who took her own life earlier this month. Or even legendary funny man Robin Williams.
“There is lots of pressure to maintain an identity when there is so much other stuff happening inside of you,” Alicia said.
Although not officially diagnosed with clinical depression, Alicia said she first became aware that there was a name and label for what she was feeling after suffering a breakdown in high school. As a teen she had always felt frustrated, hopeless and like an outcast; however it was a terrible breakup with a boyfriend that left Alicia feeling abandoned by even her closest friends. It was a counselor who told her that she was extremely depressed and needed counseling.
Thankfully, she survived that particular incident. And though right now Alicia maintains that she’s emotionally fine, depression comes in horrible waves and when she’s in thick of it, she feels extremely helpless, alone and unimportant. Alicia likened being in a depressive state to an internal war where one side of your mind is telling you that you are worthless, while the other side is telling you that you must fight it. At times suicidal thoughts run rampant and Alicia admitted she has felt as though it would be better if she didn’t exist.
“When it’s really overwhelming. When it’s really too much, I don’t have the best techniques. I usually practice self-harm (scratching the back of her hand) or I withdraw from everyone,” she confessed. “But its not very often that it gets overwhelming. Like I said, it usually comes in cycles but I try to remind myself that it will get better.”
Despite how hard it can get for her, Alicia said she’s not interested in any type of professional therapy. “I’m not into Western medication and I just don’t feel like Western means of fixing things always work.”
Rosalyn Pitts, a child psychologist with a small private practice in Philadelphia and years of experiencing working with patients diagnosed with depression, said resistance to therapy and other supportive services within the Black community is not uncommon. In fact, while 1 in 10 people report clinical depression, it’s hard to pinpoint an actual percentage of those suffering in the Black community because we’re the least likely to report our mental health needs to medical professionals.
Pitts attributed four main reasons for this reluctance: first, there’s the stigma that surrounds mental health illnesses in general. Second is our reliance on the church and religious community, which has many believing they can pray the blues away. Third, the cost of therapy can be expensive if you don’t have insurance or have access to free counseling services. And lastly is the deeply ingrained mistrust of the medical community among African Americans thanks in part to the long history of unethical medical testing on Black people.
This resistance to therapy can also manifest itself particularly among Black women, who are often forced by society to perpetrate facades which tell the world we’re abnormally strong. “The first step and the bravest step is to admit that you can’t handle the situation on your own,” said Pitts. “You really have to take that first step to lift that veil of shame and move forward because I think one of the things that holds us hostage to these feelings is that we don’t know anybody else and we feel like we’re the only one.”
Pitts said there is a role the larger Black community can play in helping to make it easier for sufferers to seek out help, including normalizing the disease (and mental health discussions in general) and talking more openly and honestly about our feelings. “We have to instill in our kids in a young age that it is okay to seek help; that it is not a form of weakness,” she said.
The holiday season can be particularly tough for depression sufferers. Not only does the season become an awful reminder of loneliness for those who aren’t close with friends or family, it also wears on others who are mourning the loss of recently deceased loved ones. Pitts advises sufferers to avoid triggers and minimize stress, even if it means staying clear of certain family members or, if it’s too painful, the holidays altogether, and seek out people who are supportive and full of good energy. She also suggests exercise, which she says can act as a major anti-depressant.
If one’s depression gets to the point where he or she is incapable of maintaining daily activities, Pitts strongly suggests folks seek professional help. Thanks in part to the shifting public attitudes about mental health, Pitts said there are a number of easy ways for someone to access counseling services.
If a has insurance, she advises first checking with the health insurance provider to see what’s covered in network. Primary care providers are also good sources for getting references to reliable counselors who can match your comfort level. Likewise, many churches are realizing the value in supportive services and are now offering counseling in addition to their other ministries. Other traditional supportive service centers also offer free to low-cost counseling for those who are under-and unemployed.
“Our mental health is absolutely key to everything else that goes on in our lives. If we are not mentally healthy, we can’t give to and provide to for others,” Pitts said. “So just like how we want to watch our weight or what we eat or if we get enough sleep. We want to make sure we take the time to focus on our mental health too.”
Although Alicia is resistant to westernized counseling services, she said she does take time out daily to focus on her mental wellness, including engaging in activities and with people who truly make her happy. “Being around people who I am friends with; eating food that I love, things like that [are what get me through]. Most importantly, telling myself that this is not going to last. That this is just a phase.”
And despite her personal objection, she does advise people who are suffering to seek professional help if needed. For her own mental health care, Alicia has also taken up video blogging and most recently produced an entry dedicated to her depression, which she said has brought her closer to strangers and friends alike who, unbeknownst to her, also suffer from depression.
“They tell me that I really helped them and that makes me feel good. I know that people may feel like they are alone in this situation. But there are other people out there who are also experiencing it alone,” she said.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and suicidal, Pitts advises that you don’t wait or suffer in silence any longer. Instead, call the National Suicide Prevention hotline, which is available 24 hours, seven days a week at 1 (800) 273-8255.
Claudia Jordan may appear sharp-tongued and full of sass in the new “Real Housewives of Atlanta” trailer, but the 41-year-old says that there was an extremely dark point in her life when she considered ending it all. Apparently, the Bravo freshman has been plagued with money troubles for quite some time now. Thankfully, she says that she’s now on the “upswing.”
“I definitely had money and lost it all and got it back, lost it all again and now I’m on the upswing,” she told Radar Online.
As for the source of her monetary woes, Claduia blames predatory loans.
“I was a victim of some predatory loans, and I remember I was depressed for a while to the point I was actually suicidal.”
“I hit rock bottom. I lost everything, including my real estate,” she went on. “I was very proud of buying all my real estate on my own and [then] my show got canceled, I went through a divorce, basically I lost my work,” she continued. “Everything happened at the same time and I was depressed.”
During this challenging time in her life, Claudia says that she didn’t bother working. In fact, she barely left her bedroom.
“I laid in bed for months, and honestly I didn’t work,” she admitted. “I was depressed and I fell behind.”
Things got so bad that the “Celebrity Apprentice” alumn says she began the process of filing for bankruptcy, but she never followed through with it.
“There was someone that came to me that said, ‘Hey, I can help you. I can thaw it out,’” she explained. “I paid him $10,000 and he started to file the bankruptcy proceedings, but then we never followed through with it.”
She later found a way to pay off all of her debts.
“I ended up paying off what I owed, but someone filed on my behalf and we didn’t follow through with it,” she said. “I know that’s something people like to throw in my face, but you know what, a lot of people have gone through bankruptcy.”
Claudia adds that she hopes that her story will serve as inspiration for others who may be in uncomfortable situations.
“Like I said, there’s a lot of people out there that are dealing with a lot of sadness and adversity and I want them to look to me like, ‘Wow, if she dug herself out of that hole, then there is hope for me.’”
Are you interested in seeing Claudia on the new season of “Real Housewives of Atlanta?”
It’s frequently expressed that the funniest guy in the room also tends to be the saddest. And unfortunately, in comedian Wayne Brady’s case, this was true for quite some time. In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight. the “Whose Line Is It Anyway” actor opened up about his lengthy battle with depression and what pushed him to make a change.
“Having a bad day is one thing, having a bad week is another, having a bad life … You don’t want to move, you can’t move in the darkness,” he shared. “You’re like, ‘I am just going to sit right here and want to wallow in this. As much as it hurts, I am going to sit right here because this is what I deserve. This is what I deserve, so I am going to sit here because I am that horrible of a person.’”
He went on to share that his negative mindset morphed into a vicious cycle of negative thinking and his condition worsened.
“It starts this cycle where you tell yourself these lies … and those lies become true to you,” he says. “So, you stick to your own truth you’ve set up. ‘If I am this bad, then why should any of this matter?’ I feel at that point, you end up wanting to stop the pain.”
The actor says that he hit rock bottom last June, on his 42nd birthday.
“I was there by myself, in my bedroom and I had a complete breakdown … Just go ahead and imagine for yourself a brother in his underwear, in his room, you got snot … and that birthday was the beginning of, ‘OK, I’ve got to make a change.'”
Wayne, who knew Robin Williams personally, says that the actor’s decision to end his life last August after struggling with depression also served as a wake up call.
“It took me a while to get my stuff together to go, ‘You know what? If you’re not happy, you have to do something about it,'” he said. “Just to admit that you are feeling this way is a huge step. To claim that, to say, ‘Why do I feel dark? Why do I feel unhappy? Let me do something about this.'”
Thankfully, Wayne is now on the road to recovery and he credits his ex-wife, Mandie Taketa, for helping him. Together, they co-parent their 11-year-old daughter, Maile.
Follow Jazmine on Twitter @JazmineDenise.
If you live long enough you realize that life isn’t always a walk in the park, but if you’re wise you realize that it’s all about what you make of it. Still, let’s be honest. Even the most optimistic person has moments when they forget how to be happy. And if you’re not one of those ‘glass half full’ type of people, it’s even harder for you to step into and maintain your happy space.
By Cody Mullins, From YourTango
Everyone who’s ever been married knows that making a relationship last is hard. Two people get together and they try to build a life together, a life that often involves differences of opinion on living habits, money trouble, kids, and on and on and on it goes. Even something as simple as sharing a toothpaste tube can make enduring a long lasting relationship difficult. (Just ask my wife about the importance of squeezing from the bottom of the tube.) But throw depression into the mix and it transforms the level of marital difficulty from the this is pretty hard category into the oh shit, this is nearly impossible category.
My wife, Casey, and I have been married for 13 years. Just like most long-lasting relationships, our marriage has been hard and we’ve faced our share of difficulties and near-misses. Making it to our 13th anniversary (the unlucky 13th anniversary as my wife would say) wouldn’t have been possible had I not made efforts at trying to understand and deal with my wife’s severe depression.
The first time I experienced my wife’s depression (and helping someone through depression can really only be described as an “experience”) was a few weeks after we met. She came over to my apartment late at night and without much warning or reason, burst out into tears. She cried “ugly tears”, as we called them, with every bit of energy within her. I pulled my soon-to-be wife into my arms and we sat on the couch, while she sobbed until we both fell asleep.
At the time, I didn’t know what depression was. I had no clue. I was completely ignorant that depression was even a disease, a disease that could take complete control of someone’s mind and wreak havoc. I was of the mindset that a person could simply choose to be happy, and I assumed my wife, too, could choose to be happy if she wanted to – and yet, for some unexplainable reason, she was choosing to be sad.
When things get dark and someone is filled with despair, suicide may be the only solution one sees at the time. Unfortunately that was once the case for these Hollywood stars, but thankfully these celebs who survived suicide attempts are still here and sharing their talents with the world.
Singer Fantasia Barrino shot to stardom and fame after winning the third cycle of “American Idol.” But the road got very rocky for the “When I See U” singer after the public found out about her very married boyfriend. Barrino met Antwaun Cook in 2009 and a year later his wife was suing hew husband’s boo for alienation of affection, even though the R&B singer insisted the relationship began after their separation. That same month Barrino tried to kill herself by taking aspirin and sleeping pills. She was hospitalized and the following year she gave birth to Cook’s son.
Depression is so much more than feeling a little blue. But because no one likes to talk about the big “D,” a lot of people don’t even realize that their struggle is more than real.
You Will Feel Judged
Mostly because some people still treat depression like it’s not a real disease. Judging someone with depression is no different than judging someone with diabetes. Don’t let their lack of education shame you into not getting help. Not everyone is misinformed.
It all dawned on me this past semester, standing in front of the projection screen, teaching my students the difference between adjectives and adverbs. I was speaking a little louder than normal, flailing my arms in illustration, trying to drive my points home. Even the most introverted of my students were engaged in that moment, shouting answers back at me, laughing, taking notes.
I thought, I never would have thought I’d be doing this.
Not because I wasn’t qualified to teach (although for a long period of time I believed as much), but because from about the sixth grade until the age of 23, I battled with social anxiety.
The first time I remember feeling so anxious was during lunch time in the sixth grade. I stood at the entrance to the cafeteria, watching other students milling around, and I couldn’t move. My pulse was out of control to the point that I could feel my heart beating in my neck. My palms were sweaty and I felt as if I were going to cry. I pivoted on the balls of my feet and ate lunch in the bathroom. From that moment, for the next thirteen years or so, I would struggle with crippling, daily anxiety. Some days to the point of physical illness. To eat breakfast was often a personal accomplishment.
I feared that my family – a very no-nonsense one – would think I was faking or crazy. I had no recourse, and I have noticed this is the case for many black women. Family is often the cause of lingering, debilitating anxiety. We feel we can’t verbalize the rollercoaster of our mental and physical state without being criticized or mocked. We’re expected to suck it up and move on. Discussing feelings is considered weakness. We are shamed into silence for something that is not our fault. I was tired of carrying around shame, so here is what I did:
1. I used college to break out of my comfort zone. I was used to being too afraid to do anything, including engaging with others. I knew that if this was going to change anywhere, college was the place. I joined clubs and organizations with missions that interested me and I pushed myself to engage. This was EXTREMELY difficult! Some days I would rush back to my dorm room on the verge of tears just from being in the presence of so many people. Difficult, though it was, it was also a huge stepping stone.
2. I picked up my journal. I knew I was not comfortable enough to share my deepest insecurities, thoughts and feelings with anyone too soon. I also knew that if I kept everything bottled up I would implode. I decided to journal every thought. Every prayer, dream, goal, inhibition, fear, and misunderstanding went into my journal. I unearthed a world of unknown hurts from being bullied in the sixth grade and other childhood traumas that had taken a huge psychological toll. Each entry felt like a huge sigh of relief and a slow but sure release of pressure.
3. I sought out confidants. Trust was extremely difficult for me. I knew I needed individuals who cared for and would cover me during this process of healing and growing. So I watched for the people in my life who displayed exemplary character. Who chose not to gossip? Who maintained integrity? Who was compassionate? Once trustworthy people were revealed to me I could feel my mood change day-to-day, month-to-month. I wasn’t ill when I awoke in the mornings. Social situations were less daunting.
4. I affirmed myself. As a Christian and a person who believes that life and death is in the power of the tongue, I started checking myself. Every time I began to speak or think negatively about myself I would replace that thought with something positive – often a quote, affirmation or bible verse. I realized that I couldn’t use others as my crutch. I had to make sure I was telling myself good things…even in the moments when I didn’t believe them.
It’s been five years since I began this self-work and I’m nothing but grateful, empowered and humbled by the experience. It’s not always easy – even today – but it has been worth every tear, journal entry, Mary Jane-esque affirmation and prayer. The past doesn’t hold me and the future looks promising.