Depression affects nearly 15.7 million adults in the United States, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. On Episode 10 of the Sistanomics Podcast, we discussed mental illness among African-Americans. We posed the question, “Why don’t we go get help as frequently as people of other races do?” I suppose there are lots of answers to that question. Listen:
Today, I am going to share my experiences in hopes that someone else may follow a similar path to healing. I remember waking up one morning about five years ago and being angry with God because I had had enough. What others viewed as a blessing, I resented.
“OH NOOOO GOD! I thought I told you not to wake me up this morning! I asked you specifically not to wake me up. Yet, you keep on doing it day after day!” I yelled, then I cried. Note: I have since apologized and I understand the error of my ways.
Back then, I would have never in a million years admitted that. How can I do so today? Healing makes everything okay. Shame and worriment about judgmental people is a huge reason African-Americans suffer in silence. I certainly did.
How I Beat Depression Once and For All
I spent countless years walking around with a mask on, trying to hide my eyes so no one could see into my soul. I was tired everyday, and all day long. When my energy levels were totally depleted, I would skip out on functions and commitments I’d made, or miss work because I could not drag myself out of bed – and ultimately, out of the funk that was plaguing me.
When depression takes over, the first person you should confess to is yourself. I cannot stress enough that denial will thwart your efforts to progress towards happiness. Be true to yourself and start there.
The problem was that I was only fooling Joan. Other people knew that I was suffering from something although they weren’t exactly sure what it was. When I acknowledged that I had a problem and began to confess that I had one, my friends were able to open dialogues and show their support. Some did not understand at all and I decided to miss them with the depression talk, and deal with them on my good days.
So, I swallowed my pride. Defensiveness is counterproductive when the truth is staring you (and everyone else) in the face. While I do not suggest that you share this with your colleagues and everyone in town, I do suggest that you be aware that it is there.
I Got Help
Sometimes in order to get out of the “why me” zone, you need to consult a professional who can help you sort things out. Friends and family are great to lean on, but they may also find your 3:00 am emergency phone calls quite draining. At the end of my rope, and over the whole diet, exercise, and pray routine, I sought counselling.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel. – PsychCentral
CBT seemed like a rip off to me at first. Then I realized that my therapist was asking the right questions in order to get me to talk through my feelings. It was not her job to tell me what to do. Rather, it was to get me to realize what I needed to do to get better.
I Found the Source and Removed it
I will not say that my ex husband as an individual was the root cause of the depression I suffered. I will admit however, that the relationship itself, was choking the life out of me. I will even go on to say that I am not certain that I would still be alive today if I had stayed.
I guess I hoped that he would be the one to wipe my tears and hold me tight when I’d have an episode. Maybe he knew deep down inside that our marriage was among the chief causes. Perhaps he felt responsible. Regardless, I take responsibility for it, because I waited too long to confess and get help.
I hate that our marriage failed, but I’ve never been happier and I hope the same is true for him. Once removed from the relationship, I was able to finally bury my grief for my mom, learn to love myself, and create, write, produce with no inhibitions! My daughter gets a happy mommy – full of laughter, advice, and genuine mommy love. Additionally, I can now have a healthy relationship with a six figure emotional bank balance. Cha-ching!
I Keep My Emotional Bank in the Black
Negativity is a breeding ground for depression. From time to time, I survey whether the people in my life are making deposits or making withdrawals from my Emotional Bank Account. We do one or the other during every interaction with a person. Signs that you’ve got a good friend are that they make deposits into your account, and you’re making deposits in theirs. If someone is draining you dry, zapping your energy, letting you down, or humiliating you, then those among other things are withdrawals. You have to decide when to close the account, or at the very least, give that person a spending budget!
Stephen Covey introduced the concept of the Emotional Bank Account in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In it, he explains how to make deposits in other people’s accounts:
- Understanding the individual
- Attending to little things
- Keeping commitments
- Clarifying Expectations
- Showing personal integrity
- Apologizing sincerely when you make a “withdrawal”
When you are battling depression, you should consider limiting people who take from you but rarely deposit positivity into your account. Also, if you find that you are off-putting to others, then consider whether you are making more withdrawals than deposits as well. Please: you owe it to yourself and the people who love you to watch the video below by Greg Viner!
There are lots of people in my life who do not have “closed accounts,” but do have budgets. That is how I keep from being overdrawn.
I Help Others
A big part of the reason I blog and podcast now is because I found out how to overcome adversity. My main work is in public education, but my life’s work is to help others beat some of the same monsters I’ve already fought and conquered. Each time I help someone by lending an ear, offering advice when I’m asked, or giving encouragement, I am making a deposit. Now that I have removed the negative energy and the people and circumstances that fostered depression in my life, my bank account is full of love and support. I just want to give it away, because finally, I beat depression. I owe it to God, my friends and family to be the living example.