Running Around and Feeling Helpless

(Throughout the month, I’m blogging 20 questions from this month’s feature article in O magazine.) 
QUESTION 9- Am I Helpless? 
stand-kneel
 
When I was clinically depressed, I felt like it
When my mom had an open heart surgery at age 48 (a surprise, unscheduled event), I felt like it.
 
But thank God, I’m not. I’m not helpless OR hopeless. He is my Helper. 

Continue reading “Running Around and Feeling Helpless”

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Still Here

The holiday season is a time when a lot of people can easily become depressed.  Some are having sadness as we remember their loved ones who have passed.  Some just feel especially lonely because they don’t live near their family.
Yesterday I got a call from a client of mine who had to cancel our appointment because his mother’s going to the hospital. I’ve been there. 12 years ago my mother went to the hospital for what was supposed to be a regular checkup. She had nothing with her but the clothes on her bag in a purse with money so she could go Christmas shopping afterward. But after she took a stress test, a hole in her heart was detected and she was admitted immediately. Unbeknownst to her, the hole in her heart was present at birth, and it got bigger and bigger over the course of 4 decades. A man named Dr. Love performed open heart surgery on her. For the first time in my life I saw my then-husband cry. My mother was like his mother. Thank God, she was able to come home on Christmas Eve, and she is still here. We are forever grateful to God and Love for it.

I know quite a few people who have recently lost their parents, Nanas and friends. I know it’s hard. A year ago, one of my favorite aunts was in a coma. This year I lost one of my friends who was just 30 years old. One of my best friends lost her father this year, and another best friend of mine’s husband had a heart attack–also in his 30s. Still another friend of mine has a little baby in the hospital right now who just had heart surgery.

Hold on. Your test is going to become your testimony and it’s going to help somebody else… most likely someone  you haven’t even met yet.

It's just the dark before the morning.

We all know that this life is temporary. Let’s focus on the things that matter. Make memories that will last. Tell the people that you care about how you feel about them. Now.

The spirit of your loved ones is still here, and so are you. Hold on.

Teachings from the Temple of Tyrese

Tyrese Gibson's book cover

Yesterday, Spelman College and Written Magazine  presented “A Conversation with Tyrese” at the Sister’s Chapel at Spelman. Written’s publisher Michelle Gipson conducted the 80-min interview with singer/actor Tyrese Gibson about his new book, How to Get Out of Your Own Way (Grand Central Publishing, 2011), a memoir/self-help book. Journalist and CNN commentator Jack Johnson joined them onstage as well. Gipson encouraged audience members (Spelman students, grown women, and a few men!) to submit questions on notecards or tweet with the hashtag #WritMagAskTyrese.
Note: This post is written almost like a full-featured magazine article, except that I’ve also included my own thoughts and explanations to provide context. So it’s long, even though I left some things out. . . but I think you’ll enjoy it regardless.

The Entrance

It’s no surprise that when the tall, dark, and dapper 32-year-old Tyrese appeared onstage, the girls went crazy with screams and frantic camera-phone picture-taking. It took awhile before he could speak–partly because of the love from the crowd, and partly because he was nervous. But after his initial “Hello,” the girls (and Tyrese) were able to collect themselves, and I was able to take more than three pages of notes to capture teachings from “The Temple of Tyrese,” as Jet magazine called it in their April 4, 2011 issue.
Continue reading “Teachings from the Temple of Tyrese”

When the Blues Don’t Move, Part 2: The Solution

To keep the proper context, please read Part 1 for the bulk of my story before continuing with the post below.

“I Don’t Want People to Think I’m Crazy”

African American women are always trying to help others and we put ourselves last. With depression, that becomes less of a priority among African Americans because of the stigma associated with it, and the discomfort.  “We need to openly disclose the feelings and emotions involved in the process, and create and maintain an ongoing healing process to get close to optimal health,” Dr. Holden says.

Unique Factors for African Americans

“As African Americans, we don’t acknowledge our pain and we don’t speak about it,” says Williams. “Our attitude is, ‘Don’t tell your business to other people,’ because it’s a sign of weakness. From the days of slavery on, you’re taught to have the attitude that you do what you have to do, and you don’t complain.”

At one of their events, Williams says Mo’Nique talked about her depression: “She told us she thought therapy was something just for White people. She was taught to take a Tylenol and cocktail and go to sleep.”

Dr. Holden: Influence and chronic stress have a great impact on mental health. African American women are disproportionately affected by disorders and health issues. On top of that, coping and dealing with the challenges of everyday life can be overwhelming. Take for instance, lupus – stress has major impact on this disease as it does obesity, diabetes, heart disease. We’re putting our lives at risk from a physical standpoint.

Continue reading “When the Blues Don’t Move, Part 2: The Solution”

When the Blues Don’t Move, Part 1: The Stigma and the Shame

Sometimes it’s an invisible pain. Sometimes Mommy hurts and you don’t even know it. This is my story of depression, looking back.

NOTE: As fate would have it, I pitched this entire story (parts 1 and 2) to several women’s publications and they  were all rejected. But because I feel this is such a strong, and sometimes still taboo subject, the message needs to get out there. Maybe it can help someone you know.

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Those tiny toes. That soft, curly hair. A newborn baby brings so much joy to a family. But when I held my baby for the first time, I was in disbelief thinking, “What do I do now?” I didn’t bond with my firstborn immediately. Was something wrong with me? Why did I feel this way? How do you deal with the scary uncertainties of becoming a first time mother?

I wasn’t a teenager when I had my daughter. But even as a married, educated 26-year-old working for a Fortune 100 company, I felt more unsure of myself than ever before. And it took years for me to grow close to my daughter and see her as more of a blessing than a burden.

Fast forward five years, and I still didn’t quite have a grasp of how to balance motherhood, working at home, and my own ambitious personal goals. I figured it was just my problem. I figured that my snappy attitude and low tolerance for my child’s misbehavior was simply a characteristic of my impatient personality. I told myself to “suck it up” and deal with it, because in life, stuff happens. I didn’t know I was depressed.

Terrie M. Williams, celebrity publicist and author of Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting, knows what I mean from her own experience with depression. “As African Americans, we don’t acknowledge our pain and we don’t speak about it,” Williams says. “Our attitude is, ‘Don’t tell your business to other people,’ because it’s a sign of weakness. From the days of slavery on, you’re taught to have the attitude that you do what you have to do, and you don’t complain.”

Continue reading “When the Blues Don’t Move, Part 1: The Stigma and the Shame”

The Art of Letting Go

CC10_WordleEvery day we have opportunities to be offended by something or someone. We can choose whether to react to the offense, or to let it go. I’d like to share my story with you about overcoming offense.

I remember a time when several depressing things occurred in the span of one month. The wage for my contractor position was cut by $20 per day. I had a couple of friends and family members who were supposed to help me do some things with my house or just visit from out of town, and I felt ignored and neglected. Then to top it all off, someone that I dated married a good friend of mine (or so I thought–I was friends with the female before I met the guy). So I had several opportunities in that month to become offended with people.

Continue reading “The Art of Letting Go”