Marquita Davis is a divorced mother of three young adults, who enjoys: writing, storytelling, cooking, and people watching. She is currently on a journey of healing and self-rediscovery.
She's also a dear friend and I am so grateful for her willingness to share her journey with us this week!
“I think you’re suffering from depression,”
...are the words of a text message from a dear friend.
That one small sentence evoked several emotions that included: disappointment, frustration, disbelief, and a bit of resentment towards that friend. I couldn’t, however, ignore the fact that it wasn’t the first time that sentiment was presented to me for consideration.
I also couldn’t ignore the fact that the sentence stalked me throughout the week. I repeatedly stumbled onto mental health articles in the form of unsolicited forwards from other friends or shares on social media. I found myself in conversations with people suffering from depression spontaneously sharing their journey as though I asked to hear it. Like anything one actively tries to avoid, it became apparent that I was expending more energy avoiding the issue than dealing with it.
What exactly was so offensive to me about the idea that I may be dealing with depression?
One of my jobs is in a homeless shelter. I regularly speak with guests about their issues with addiction and mental health. During these interactions, I try to convey mercy, understanding, support, and encouragement. I don’t have any difficulty understanding how the individual traumas they’ve experienced contribute to their present circumstances or state of being (depressed, bipolar, chemical addictions, etc.). In fact, many of their experiences are not only relatable, but shared.
But for some reason, the same grace and compassion that I extend to them without measure, I withhold from myself.
My family, social circle, and culture promoted messages like: “get over it”, “just deal with it”, “suck it up”, and the classic, “ain’t nobody got time for that!”. These were and, sadly still, are my truths to unlearn. Words to live (and die inside) by. I was raised with the idea that you just keep moving when something sets you back. You just get up again if you get knocked down. No triage. Just get up and keep it moving. Unfortunately, these statements all mean that my hurts/disappointments/trauma weren’t/aren’t as important as those of others.
When people experience trauma, a part of the aftercare process is therapy. If not professional help, at least having a support network of friends or family to talk about things with is extremely beneficial. In too many of my own instances, as for a lot of women of color, we get hit and are told to keep it moving.
For instance, there was no therapy of any kind for me as a young child when my parents divorced, or as a teen when I had been raped and it resulted in pregnancy and abortion, when I masked the pain of these events with promiscuity and alcohol.
No triaging when, as a young adult, I developed esteem issues, and experienced domestic violence in relationships. There was no talking about them.
There was no acknowledging these events without inviting shaming for either sharing my vulnerability or having put myself in those situations. No talking about my troubled marriage, subsequent divorce, death of both parents, etc. So, how did I deal with them?
I put them away and got on with life.
Eventually, however, the cupboard becomes full. The bill comes due. The toll is taken, and any other cliché that means, “The makeup smudges, the mask cracks and slips, the costume rips because it no longer fits, and the truth of who you are is on display.
Many people will let you continue living and functioning believing your carefully crafted projection to the world is still effective, but anyone who truly loves you will tell you it isn’t. They will see you and your brokenness beneath it all. They will notice that all the “bad” that was tamped down, packed way, and hidden has been leaking if not full out bursting out at the seams. My friend did that for me. She said, “I think you’re dealing with depression.”
At that point, I had a choice to make.
I had been presented with information that I could either ignore, accept, or investigate. I chose to investigate. I spent some time with myself (a scary task) looking my life (past and current) and some of the things I’ve gone through, things I’d done and not done. I looked at some recent/repeated patterns and cycles I developed:
not practicing consistent self-care (doctors’ appointments, hygiene, exercise, diet),
loss of interest in activities and hobbies that once brought me joy,
spending less time with friends and family or refusing invitations,
making excuses for missing engagements and appointments,
increased clutter in my personal spaces (bedroom, car, desk at work). I was never what anyone would describe as a “neat freak”, but even I had to admit that the situation was out of hand even for my standards.
I could go on, but I won’t.
I could not justify or explain away the mountain of “evidence” I collected against myself. So, I did something bold.
Something I hadn’t done before. Something that I’d later berate but forgive myself for, I cried for me.
I allowed myself to experience and sit with my own pain and traumas.
I gave myself space, compassion, and mercy. I shared some of my story/journey with someone that I could trust to listen without shaming or victim blaming. I made a call to Human Resources at work to ask about free/sliding-scale counseling services provided by my employer.
I’d like to end this by saying that I’ve made a call to setup an appointment, but I can’t honestly do that. I can say though that I’ve taken some first steps in course correction. I have planned to take the next step (making the call) no later than mid-August. I can’t explain the delay, but you know… baby steps.
For me, those things and just giving myself “permission” to be vulnerable are huge.
Maybe you’ve identified or related to some of this. Maybe you know someone with similar habits. If so, be gracious and kind to that person.
Especially, if it’s yourself.
One more thing, check out Therapy For Black Girls which is an online site that “encourages the mental wellness of Black women and girls”…while you’re there listen to a podcast, find a therapist and more.