Young, Black, and Depressed

Photo by Chad Madden

Photo by Chad Madden

I’m a black woman. 

A young (twenty-six year old) black woman.

And I’m depressed. 

Oh and throw anxiety into the mix too. 

Matter a fact toss them all into a pot and watch as they get strewn about in a toiling bubbling brew. Watch your life get tangled up into a mess you didn’t know was possible. Watch what is pretty much considered by the black community to be a “white girl problem” become your problem. And watch the pieces shatter...

I found God at 3 years old. My parents said a prayer with me and told me that Jesus would come and live in my heart. I prayed before my meals and learned about Esther and Noah in Sunday school. David and Goliath were personal favorites because you know, the little guy wins. The Bible was full of great stories and I enjoyed most of them. I didn’t enjoy dry bones much. Or the book of Revelation. The book of Revelation freaked me out. And then those Left Behind books became a thing and Kirk Cameron reemerged from Growing Pains and that was weird.

In high school God was easy. I was one of those good, kumbaya singing around the campfire Christians. I still have the acoustic guitar and worship leader sheet music to prove it.

In college though, Christianity became nothing more than a cliche cross shaped necklace. An antique I could tuck away when I wasn’t too sure God would fit in. 

God became something I only experienced on Sunday’s. Christianity was like episodic television. A treat to binge watch when it was convenient for me. When I needed a pick me up after a breakup or a big disappointment, I knew it would be there, waiting for me to press play.

I still to this day can’t pin point exactly when fear moved into my life but I can tell you that it was the arrival of my very own personal hell. 

Little things changed at first like lack of sleep, fear of driving, and constant forgetfulness. Those small things turned into bigger giants and I didn’t have a slingshot to back me up. So I turned to secrecy. Because I can’t be the pastor’s daughter and be afraid to wake up in the mornings. And I can’t be a powerful woman at work only to cry every night before I go to bed at home. 

And so I kept moving “forward”, or so I thought. In reality every step forward was actually a step backward. And so started the treacherous cycle of denial. 

When you hide things they have a way of building up. Things widen at the seams. And then a thread rips the underbelly of the beast. And when you least expect it, the fabric of the universe rips open and all of your secrets spill out. 
Your entire world bursts. 

And you’re on your knees. Begging for a way out. You wake up one morning and look in the mirror and you have absolutely no idea who you are. You used to be a decent friend, but now, not so much. You used to be a good daughter and sister, but not anymore. Your relationships are rocky, because whenever you get close to someone you’re afraid they’ll leave so you leave them first. Your work is suffering, because the only thing you have energy for is anything but that. You’re selfish. The only thing you seem to be able to do well is sleep. 

This is what happens when depression and anxiety completely consume you. This is what happens when you are not okay. 
This is what it means to be at the end of your rope.

This was me about 8 months ago. I felt like darkness itself would open up it’s jaws and devour me whole. I knew that I needed help.

Fast forward to the end of your rope and you’re sitting there in the doctor’s office, Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Now is your chance to leave. What were you thinking? Christians don’t take medication for mental problems. We pray. What will they think what will they think? And your heart rate increases, and you feel a panic attack forming in the cavity of your chest, and it’s rising, rising, rising-

But you breathe deep. And the doctor comes in a prescribes you medication that just might be the answer. You take a chance and it’s not easy adjusting. It’s quite hard in fact. The nausea, the sadness. It takes a bit for your body to adjust. But gradually, little by little, the fog starts to lift. The darkness that you thought would devour whole is finally quiet. 

Over time you gain back your powers and realize the need for self care. 
You tell yourself that you are beautiful and that you are strong. And that sometimes you are weak but so what. Only in weakness can we allow others to help us pick up the pieces. Only in my weakness did I find that God was truly there all along, and that there is a difference between religion and relationship.

The clouds part a little bit, and for the first time in a truly long time, I can see a sliver of sunlight. The road is not all sunshine and rainbows, and there are still mornings it takes me a while to get out of bed. But for the first time in my life I’m not afraid anymore. I am not ASHAMED to say that as a black woman I battle depression and anxiety. I am not alone as a Christian in saying that sometimes, prayer alone will not make the pain go away. Sometimes you need different tools to help you face the darkness.

Sometimes you need a slingshot to help you face the giant…


Patience E. Randle3 Comments