I am writing this blog because there is not enough information on depression in the African-American community. There is a stigma about this disorder and people believe that you can simply “snap out of it” like removing a synthetic hair wig off of your head. You bought the wig at one of the thousands of Black beauty supply stores because you thought what was on your head was more important that was going inside your head. So you try to hide your illness, or some of you sisters are not even aware you have an illness. Consequently, the addictions develop because you think that is a way to deal with your feelings and the emptiness inside. The addictions can be too numerous. I like many young and middle-aged women fell into the whole Carrie Bradshaw thing of buying designer clothing and or knock offs, just to be fashionable. I had to have a walk in closet to display my rows of shoes like Oprah, or the pretty large lipped actress on “Girlfriends”, whose name escapes me because I haven’t seen her in a while. (I hope she is getting those residuals).

Speaking of addictions, In Style magazine was a culprit too. Whatever the must have handbag, designer jean or beauty product they were “pushing”, I wanted it. I knew all about brand names and particular shades like Nar’s Orgasm Blush or MAC’s lip glass in “Oh Baby”. Magazines and catalogues  from Victoria’s Secret and Spiegel arrived on a daily basis. Like a crack head, I craved that next purchase of  shoes from Zappos.com, because they shipped within twenty-four hours. The credit/debit card was held in my hand and I would wield it back and forth like it was a crack pipe. And once the, Thank you for your purchase screen with my order number I exhaled and slumped over in my seat. The transaction was complete and my brain felt rejuvenated.

The shoes arrived promptly but having large feet due to my height I had to stretch them out for a couple of days. So the shoes were put on hold. I thought of the outfit I would wear to work and all the compliments I would receive and that boosted my ego. But in the meantime….I must get ready for spring fashion and I need to search for some size ten shoes or even better size eleven shoes…..My mind was racing like a crack addict, scheming on who to rob, what has value, which pawn shop to go to because I don’t want them to think I am a regular. So I am on the computer again, no one is to have these shoes and it will be one of a kind because that’s how I roll.

And so on. I must share with you that depression runs on both sides of my family. Everybody knows this but it is not really discussed, like it is the proverbial elephant in the room. Members of my extended family have been hospitalized and entered treatment programs, yet they tell me, I don’t know what’s wrong with you and you need to get yourself together. Did I mention that most of my family members are social workers and teachers, because if you were educated those were one of the few fields where you could get hired if you were “colored”.

We are from a line of HBCU grads and prominent universities; some of us have advanced degrees and my family members still don’t get it. There are public libraries with books on psychology and bookstores with comfy chairs and mocha caramel coffee where one can peruse the self-help section. Oh, wait, there is also this thing called the internet. No one understands depression in my family and they damn don’t understand it in the Black community. It is straight up denial.

Before I get a comment from someone outside the Black race, please understand the distrust that Blacks have for medicine and doctors. I will talk about that in my next post.