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It is a affliction that develops within us after being strong for too long. After being faced with barriers, negative outcomes, surviving trauma, inheriting a serious health issue, or coming from a disadvantaged background, many Queens of color fall into depression. “Black Girl Blues” has become such a hot topic that may books, movies, and even local community events are focusing on it. And yet, the stigma within the African and African-American community remains.
With a lack of resources and funds, many black Queens self-medicate by becoming workaholics, alcoholics, drug-addicts, or even sex addicts. What causes depression? Why is being a black female, and being depressed such a huge epidemic? How can a black Queen deal with depression?
What Causes Depression?
The Johns Hopkins University of Medicine has admitted that women of color try to fight their way through anxiety and depression by themselves. The whole stereotype of being the “strong black women” has been ingrained in our minds for too long through mainstream media. “Anyone can experience mental illness. There is no group, gender, sexual identity, race or cultural belief that can prevent it from occurring,” says Richards, M.D. “And it’s actually happening at higher rates than most other illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.” In the African and African American community ( I personally make it a point to separate the both because we are similar and yet so different), many attribute depression to someone who is weak. In the African American community it is quite common to hear depression be turned into a joke, and someone suffering from it is sometimes used as a source of comedy relief. In the African community when you bring up depression you are often the target of shame and mockery. Your relatives may go out of their way to embarrass you and make you feel as though you are not strong, that is why you can’t “get over it”.
Women of color suffer mentally more than the general population because we lack so much. When you have been stolen from, abused, neglected, and oppressed for centuries,more than any other race, you suffer more from violence, PTSD, poverty and homelessness. All of these negative components create a concoction of depression in a Queen’s mind.
The Three Strikes : Being Black, Being A Female, and Being Depressed
Every hit black TV sitcom I have watched whether it was “The Cosby Show”, “Living Single”, or “The Jeffersons”, the black leading female was always portrayed as being so strong. She always had a extremely witty demeanor with a hysterical comeback that would always save the day, and it would seriously get on my nerves. I mean why couldn’t Clair Huxtable ever have an emotional breakdown in front of her kids? Didn’t being a lawyer and seeing all of the corruption in the system ever depress her? Did not moving on up to the East-side emotionally exhaust Mrs. Jefferson? Queen Latifah did see a therapist while acting in “Living Single”, but it was not a reoccurring topic.
“During slavery you were supposed to be the strong one. You weren’t supposed to speak. You were supposed to just do,” said Esney M. Sharpe, founder and CEO of the Bessie Mae Women’s Health Center in East Orange, N.J., which offers health services for uninsured and underserved women. “…Our moms and our grandmothers always told us to suppress. Just be quiet, chalk it up, get up, dress up, fix your face, put on your best outfit and just keep going,” she said.
Women in general are more likely to experience depression than men do. (What a surprise.) But when your black, and a woman, your chances of experiencing depression are higher than the rest of the general population.
How Can A Black Queen Deal With Depression?
1.) Choose a provider that demonstrates cultural competence. Your healthcare provider should be able to provide care to you despite your belief, values and behavior. They should also take into account your social, cultural, and linguistic needs. If they can’t, then you need to find a replacement.
2.) Walk away from toxic relationships and/or family and friends. The saying : “You are who you sleep with”, is very true. You cannot have a healthy mind if you choose to have a partner that is constantly insulting you, demeaning you, cheating on you or beating you. The same goes for your friends and family. Misery loves company. If they are not uplifting you, you need to replace them with people who will.
3.) Seek help from a mental health provider. “I do think our community could use a lot of healing and I do think there’s a lot of potential for psychotherapy in our community,” said Psychologist Orbe-Austin.