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With April Nicole
Wednesday, July 06, 2016 6:08 PM

The Mask of Depression: Why Black Women Suffer in Silence

By: April Nicole

My grandmother’s signature statement was “Get some grit in your craw!” In translation that means “Don’t be a punk!” That also means no crying, keep a stiff upper lip and NEVER give up or give in. Those were the words that turned a timid little girl that was bullied and molested in silence to a pit bull. I learned how to sip on some NyQuil to command sleep at age 12, cry when no one was looking and perfect a resting bitch face that would become my defense against the haters.

As a teen mom I patterned myself after the great women that had raised an intelligent young girl that was now a woman. I never saw my mother cry. She was poised, classy and had no qualms about telling someone in the most articulate way where to go and how to get there if they even thought about crossing her. Of course “Nanny” had laid the foundation for all of the women in my family. I imparted the same knowledge in my first born daughter and when she cried I told her “We don’t cry! We aren’t crybabies! Suck it up” and she obliged. By the time she was 10 years old and I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter I noticed how withdrawn she was. Now at the ripe age of 18 I have created a smart, beautiful young woman that is nearly emotionless. Where is the happy medium?

And then there is me: Age 37, black female battling depression. The word that escapes the vocabulary of black women across the nation. How dare I succumb to a condition that is an oxymoron to the generations that went before me, the clergy that has imparted the Gospel in me, and the people that are closest to me that never detect it, until the strongest has become weak and unresponsive.

Embarrassment of dependence on anything else besides inner strength has women suffering. The masks that we have designed so well keep those in close proximity believing a well-kept secret: I’m fine!  When everything inside is yelling “I’m dying. Please save me!”

How do we loose these ties that bind us? We have to refuse to continue the cycles of teaching our young ladies that being emotional is for the weak and taking a break is for the lazy. As we focus on hit T V shows that alter our physical bodies and new trends of products that tackle health issues I challenge every woman to also take a serious look at your mental health.

Of course as a woman of God I felt as though my prayers should suffice. As we pray we must also listen to directions that are given as answers. Unraveling issues that have been suppressed is not only therapeutic but it’s NECESSARY.

Maybe in a future publication I will tackle the unanswered questions of the people that are closest to you that not only have no idea what you are going through but that can so easily be tricked by a mask….