Let me preface this by saying I'm no psychologist, psychiatrist or expert within the field. This post isn't going to have a bunch of statistics and numbers thrown at you. I'm just writing and speaking from the heart and my experiences, but it is clear that depression is a big issue in our community. Many of us have been programmed in ways in which we have no idea how to deal with such a thing. Many of us who have been or are depressed don't even want to acknowledge it as such and thats because there are so many stigmas within our community in regards to depression. This line of thinking is hurting us.
As men we are taught to "man up" and hold our feelings inside as to not seem vulnerable. No one wants to seem vulnerable when in our communities we have to be continuously on guard and always defending ourselves. You don't want to seem weak because you don't want to be a target. Also you don't want to seem weak because patriarchy tells you that you have to be "the Man" of the house. This often leads to destructive and unhealthy behaviors as you are conditioned to bottle all of your emotions in. Such has been the case with me.
Women often are tasked with raising our families on their own, so they often don't want to risk breaking down because feel like they are holding our family's up. Again comes the bottling up.
Also at times when you do open up, people will try to tell you that you aren't unique and that "we all go through it". This to me is another unhealthy way of going about things. If we are all going through it, then we should be more constructive when it comes to discussing this issue. Too often we write people off as "complainers" or "whiners" when they are talking about what they are going through, and it only makes people want to bottle it in further.
There is also this stigma against seeking help. We don't want people to think we're "crazy". We also go really hard to convince ourselves that our issues aren't that bad and we can fight it. We are a very strong and resilient people, but sometimes we do need help whether it is professional help or reaching out to loved ones. We can't continue being afraid of being vulnerable, especially with regards to each other because there's a lot more of us going through these things than people are letting on.
I just wanted to get this off my chest because I've seen the impact that bottling all this stuff in can have on you, and if you think about it you probably have too. Often our depression manifests in alcoholism, drug abuse and other unhealthy ways because we don't know what else to do. Instead of opening up about my problems I damaged relationships with those I deeply cared about because I was so scared of being weak and being open. Its unfair in our community that we always have to be strong and it shouldn't be that way. Your pain should not be trivialized. If you need to talk about it, talk about it. If you need to write, then do that. And if you need to get help, please seek help. I'm speaking to the brothers and sisters out there who because of our culture are scared to vocalize what they are going through. I've been there, I'm there now. I love my culture and people but we need to grow in the empathy department, especially in regards to men. We raise our sons to never shed a tear and often that pain comes out in different ways.
Depression is an illness and has nothing to do with you as a person. With all these stigmas we are silencing a huge portion of our community and we need to look out for each other a little bit more if we're all going to grow.
So if you're currently going through it get the help and/or resolve that you need and fuck the stigmas (for lack of a better word). If you need to cry, If you need to talk about it, if you need to get help, if you need to call someone, its ok.
We need to be more supportive of those going through depression. Instead of telling them what they need to do to get better how about we listen?
Sorry if this reads all over the place, I just felt compelled to write this.
Always Moving Forward