“It’s just a stage. It’ll pass!”
“You like attention”
“There’s no such thing as depression”
Now imagine all these things being said in your mother tongue by your parents or members of your family. Sound familiar? Hits home, doesn’t it?
In the black community, there is no such thing as depression- according to our parents and elders. They call it “istage” and keep it moving.
I can tell you that you can look like the happiest person on earth but be completely shattered inside. People never seem to understand that what you look like on the outside isnt an accurate depiction of what is going on inside.
Having gone through years of depression, I can solidly say that its a deep dark place to be in. It was especially sad for me because nobody really knew that inside I was broken beyond belief. The cause of my depression was someone I had to face everyday. Someone who tore me down each and every single day till I was this sorry excuse of a person. At first you don’t know what’s wrong with you. All you want to do is be alone and sleep all day because no part of you wants to even be in proximity with other humans. You cry your eyes out everyday. Sometimes you’re over social and “happy” but its all pretense. You want to numb out the pain with narcotics just to function like a human being.
Depression is the realest thing I’ve witnessed in my life. Though its not even tangible, the effects on a person are so dire it’s crazy. You find yourself turning to alcohol and a host of other narcotics in the hunt of feeling and seeming “normal”.
In December 2017, due to medical reasons and personal choices, I decided to stop drinking alcohol. There goes my crutch! I told myself that it’s high time I stop this because I had been using alcohol as a means of escaping reality and conjuring up some sort of happiness within my drug and alcohol induced stupor for years. People thought it was social drinking but no, it was drinking to hide what was really going on.
I’ve had anger problems for as long as I can remember. I’m talking anger blackouts. You get so angry that you don’t even know what you did during that anger phase. End up hurting people and even yourself but have no thorough recollection about what exactly happened. I used alcohol to mellow me out of the anger but it never seemed to calm me down. Generally, I’m feisty. I mean, come on, I’m Xhosa. We’re born feisty. So add some anger to that feistiness and you have a monster.
I’ve seen psychologists and psychiatrists about this. For the most part, talking about it to a neutral body really did help but the reality is that you have to talk to yourself. You can have as many sessions with these doctors and they can tell you everything but the effort needs to come from you. You have to want to get better. Most times it’s so hard to get yourself into a position of even talking to yourself because you are so removed from who you used to be. I always felt like I was watching myself from a television screen or something. It always felt surreal. Like my life was a series.
I can’t sit here and say to people “snap out of it!” because the whole “snapping out” is such a feat. It’s the most difficult and draining endeavor ever when you’re in that state.
It took me years to get to where I am. It wont happen in a day or a week or a month. You have to work on yourself. Talk to yourself. Will yourself into getting better, into escaping that hold that’s pulling you down each and every single day. Stop the things you’re doing to numb out what you’re feeling. Let yourself feel the raw emotion and give yourself a reason to get out of it.
The reason why I targeted this post especially to black young people is because we struggle the most when it comes to depression. Our parents and elders dismiss this illness as though its a fable. Depression is real. I’m here to validate your feelings and that happiness is possible. Depression can be combated.
There are enough broken people walking around feeling completely empty inside. There are enough people hurting themselves everyday because of this. There are enough people contemplating suicide on a daily basis. Enough is enough. Take the first step and get help.
South African Depression and Anxiety Group: 011 234 4837
Suicidal Emergency: 0800 567 567
24 Hour helpline: 0800 12 13 14
I hope this post has helped you realise that you are not alone. I would like you to draw inspiration from me. It’s possible to escape that feeling. It’s possible to live a life where you’re looking forward to the following day and not dreading anything. I wont sit here and tell you that my life is perfect. No! Never! It needs alot of work still but the good part is that I finally found happiness, not just a good feeling that alcohol and narcotics gave me but real happiness that I created for myself. And it’s important not to leave your happiness up to other people. Never give someone that responsibility. Let your happiness be just that, YOURS!
Love and Light❤️✨