1. Depression is still a taboo subject for Black folks.
I had to address this first, as it is bigger than what we make it. We can talk, laugh, dance, gossip, do libations, but when the subject of any type of depression arises we go mute. In our culture, we believe that enduring things such as, ya know… slavery, segregation, losing Whitney, Luther, and Michael, prohibits us from going through anything like depression. While these of course are events that some of us may have survivor’s remorse for, these are incomparable to the struggles of mental health in our communities. Especially in Black women. Especially in Black mothers.
During my spell, I reached out to the three people that I have talked to the most since having my daughter, and the answers I expected were not the answers that I received.
Me: “I’m not okay.”, “I think I’m depressed.”, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
Person 1: “You’ll be alright. Just get up.”
Person 2: “Just pray about it. Talk to God. That stuff isn’t real. That is crazy.”
Person 3: “Well if you feel yourself about to do something crazy, call someone to get the baby! Don’t hurt her. “
While I am all for productivity, all for praying, and appreciative of those who believe in not claiming negative things to your life, a cry for help is exactly what it is no matter if you understand it or not. We can’t always bring God into time sensitive situations. We can’t exclaim that “Black people don’t do that” or “Black people don’t get depressed” because we do. It happens, it exists, and we need to address it as families, and as a culture before we push our own to battle internal demons alone.
2. A break from technology is NECESSARY.
I spent a lot of hours in bed scrolling through my phone. I was texting my friends pretending to be happy and be busy. I also spent a lot of time on social media comparing my life to people who I barely even knew in real life. Their happy moments, their new cars, new blog posts, graduation pictures, perfect contours, and don’t get me started on the proposals; all of those were triggers that placed me deeper into my emotional quicksand. Finally, I decided to put my phone on airplane mode and “Do Not Disturb” and took time to appreciate what I had in my space. It felt good to clean, listen to music, read a book, and disconnect from cyberspace. You have to be unapologetic about taking a hiatus. The friends who notice and miss you will find a way to reach you and understand. I also learned that comparing myself to people I followed on social media was ridiculous because I do not know them or their struggles. They choose what they want to show the world; everyone is not comfortable broadcasting the hard parts of the hustle.
3. I had to stop asking for ME TIME and start taking it.
Straight up. I had to get gangsta with it, too. Although motherhood is a choice, it is not a punishment. Motherhood does not mean that my individuality has to be compromised. While spending time with my daughter is amazing, I can’t be my best self if I don’t spend alone time with myself. I used to read so many mom blogs about women “asking” and “discussing” with their partners the need for time away from baby. “Oh he works, he’s tired, he’s not used to being alone with the baby.” F**k that. R. Kelly didn’t call it half on a baby for nothin’. Please erase all thoughts of needing permission to be alone.
Yes, you may be breastfeeding, or really attached but do not think for one minute that your partner deserves more space and free time than you do. That’s why I had to get gangsta with it. If I felt nice enough, I would get all of my daughter’s food, diapers, and clothes ready, but as I started becoming more aware of how much of myself was lost, I just started leaving. What’s the worst that could happen without me? Start trusting that your partner is just as responsible, and if they aren’t…well, everything is meant to be a learning experience. I assure you that the baby will be fine. Take time for you.
4. A Little Hip-Hop Never Hurt Nobody.
Seriously. My spell ended after I spent most of my time alone in traffic listening to Gucci Mane’s new mixtape Everybody Looking. For my clear readers, Gucci Mane is vital to our culture. Why was I listening to Gucci you may ask? Because for one, he just got out of prison and he has changed his lifestyle drastically. He really did a whole 180 on us and we didn’t see it coming. This 180 included changing his diet, reading self-help books, speaking a little bit more articulately than fans were used to, and loving on his woman, Keyshia Kaoir. While I am far from your average trapper, his lyrics about his transition on each track really put me back on a path of independence. If Gucci could fight his demons, why can’t I? Sometimes rappers have a better way of using the correct verbiage instead of saying “I’m depressed.”
5. SELF (F**king) CARE.
Y’all. I let all the hair grow out. I was neglecting my Yoni. My legs. My armpits. My mustache. My eyebrows. My skin. Any time I looked in the mirror it was “Bye, Felicia.” instead of “Hey girl, hey!” Looking good goes far beyond looking good for someone else. If you look good for yourself, and learn how to turn yourself on, and appreciate what you look like before and after life happens, so many changes will occur. I thought I was okay with taking showers and brushing my teeth because shamefully after you have a baby, that’s an accomplishment, but no. Take charge of your self-care routines. If your skin is a mess, do something. Exfoliate. Shave. Lotion. Just make sure your glow is genuine. Alicia Keys is rich and she has a man that may or may not have be stolen, so that no makeup challenge is trash. Put some powder on. Cover up those bags. Put on your favorite lipstick, and slay. “If you look good, you feel good” may not be a long-term fix, but it is a step.
This transition was not easy. Every day is different. I’m thankful for the friends and family who are there to talk me off of the ledge. My fight with PPD and all the anxieties that come with it will be over soon. I know that with faith and hard work, I will come out victorious. I will leave with a video of Dave Chappelle and one of my favorite quotes by him.
Also, let’s stop talking about being great listeners and great friends and just do it. Be great to people.