Author: Chezmin Barnett
Nobody asks for it. Nobody willingly opens the doors of their soul and welcomes in the silent intruder that is depression. It is a dark entity that creeps into your heart and mind and, if not confronted early on, it devours your entire being. It will desensitize and numb you. It will turn your world, both internal and external, completely inside out.
It is so important to know and recognize the signs of depression early on. Depression does not need a professional diagnosis to be valid. Often times, people who have been clinically diagnosed with depression, will try to invalidate another person’s claims of having it simply because a doctor hasn’t confirmed it.
Let me be the first to say, we know ourselves better than any doctor ever will, so do not let anyone invalidate your very real, very present feelings and emotions. Depression is not always black and white. To me, it cannot be clearly defined by a single set of characteristics or symptoms. We are all unique so we don’t all experience depression as simply as just being sad and crying all the time. Although those are a couple telltale signs, it isn’t always that transparent and easy to read on a person. It can be found in a person who used to have so much to say but now they barely engage in conversations at all. It can be found in that girl who used to be an active social butterfly, but now actively distances herself from those she normally interacts with. It can be found in that boy who used to be so athletic and energetic, but now he barely emerges out of his room, his grades are dropping, and he’s barely eating. See, depression can be an enigma but is still noticeable if only we care enough to pay attention to those close to us.
Depression is heavy and dark, intrusive and ugly. It has no preferences. It will take a 6-year-old just as easily as it will a 60-year-old. Age does not validate or invalidate what a person is feeling inside. Often times, and especially in black households, parents have a way of not taking their children’s feelings seriously because they are stuck on this ridiculous notion of being obligated to show their children the very same damaging and traumatizing tough love that they received as children. They’re so busy showing their kids tough love that they don’t even see that that kid is borderline suicidal. All outcries don’t have to be loud and violent and screaming “Look at me.” Remember: silence speaks volumes. It is so important to actively set and maintain the bar when it comes to creating a safe venting space for our children and loved ones. If we as a community don’t create safe spaces for I loved ones to express their feelings, then we are actively and willingly creating yet another generation of once beautiful souls turned dark and tainted from relying on all the wrong external sources for internal healing.
We have the power to heal our people, it’s just going to take some hard and uncomfortable work. It’s going to take us lifting those rugs and scooping that dirt from underneath. It’s going to take digging and prying and addressing some things. It is going to take each and everyone of us walking into our own darkness and facing our demons head on. It is going to take love. It won’t be a cakewalk – healing never is, but with the right kind of support, outlets, and resources to turn to, we can fight depression in unity and turn over a new leaf, one person at a time, with the common goal of a better hope for the future, and a brighter tomorrow on the horizon. After every storm there is a silver lining.