A while back, I overheard a group of people discussing depression and suicide for a project they were doing for a certain course. (I actually started writing this then, but I forgot about it and I only just saw it in my notes). Anyway, so one girl was talking about how she did not get why people got depressed over such trivial things as how their bodies looked. She mentioned that she didn’t like a certain part of her, but she was not sad enough about it to want to kill herself. I was like okay, good for you. At least you know not to let negative things eat your soul up and suck out all your joy. But some people have it really hard, and we trivialize all the pain they go through, not acknowledging the fact that they have not learned as much about picking themselves up as we have. Sometimes I don’t understand why people complain about the things I don’t complain about because I felt like if I’m not complaining it’s not that bad so what at all have they found so wrong that they have to complain ceaselessly about? (I know this is selfish and I have come to accept the differences with people and how one thing that’s so clear to others would be murky to me and vice versa and to appreciate the nuances of individual emotions).
There’s so many of us who look for validation in others and when we don’t get it especially with regard to the things we feel, we hide everything away. We’ve been forced into hiding our truest emotions because we don’t know how the rest of the world will take it. We hide our tears because they tell us it’s weak to cry or never say what we feel because we might be marginalized or mocked. In most Ghanaian homes, you cannot just sit there and say you’re depressed. You must not be drinking enough water, my sister. Or you don’t have work to do so you’re just letting your feelings run around.
Mental health is taken for granted so much in black homes. We call depression “white” and act like illnesses have color. We ostracise people who start showing signs of instability and refuse them the help they need to get better. So people pretend like they have everything together and when they cannot bear the weight of it all they fall apart. And even after being the trigger to their pain, we can’t even help them when it comes down to it. We’ve manipulated wellness and feeling into capitalism and some of us are the emotional bourgeoisie who sit back while the proletariat gradually disintegrates. We’re burning those bridges of togetherness and leaving people to heal themselves when if we could only extend our hand the healing process could be faster.
There’s really no getting up and helping people fix the parts of themselves that are broken. And so many people have not learned to adjust to pain and disappointments. Things go wrong one way or the other and the most important thing is picking you up. A lot of people don’t understand that. They expect perfection so they don’t pay attention to process and seek only progress. Like Lecrae said, we always preach paradise and never show people the wilderness. We tout all the glory yet rarely understand how trying the journey is. People have not learned to cope, even though it’s the most important survival mechanism, and when things don’t go as planned, they fall apart. They break into a dozen pieces and can’t seem to find themselves. We hype success and self-actualization so much, we forget that it starts somewhere. Nobody started out having everything all figured out. They had to work and fall and start and cry and fight till they got where they are now. Just because you’re in the tunnel right now, does not mean that you will not get out of it.
I started writing this like 3 months ago and today I was like if I don’t post this it’ll be here forever. So I hope you learn something 🙇🏾♀️😊