I was diagnosed with clinical depression at 16 years old and generalized anxiety disorder at 17. My mother did not take either diagnosis seriously. She was a registered nurse, yet she often commented that my diagnosis stemmed from wanting attention. Like many Black parents, especially those who identify as Christian, it was easier to believe that I was being dramatic rather than suffering from a mental illness.
After all, God is the only thing we need to heal, right? Wrong.
Thanks to a teacher’s intervention, I began therapy, although it was referred to as “academic intervention.” It was clear that I was suffering and needed to talk to someone, as I was spiraling. Quickly.
I concentrate on making it through each minute, then each hour, then each day. In doing so, I’ve become intimately aware of how my depression manifests itself.
The knot in the pit of my stomach is the first physical sign. It reminds that there is no peace. No true happiness. That beneath the surface, there is always a catastrophe waiting to snap me out of the dream and back into the nightmarish reality. There are tears. Uncontrollable and without specific cause. They begin as tiny drops of uncertainty but soon, they are laced with sadness and anger. My face, stained with the salt of my fears, now numb from the sting, is my tell. I’ve never been good at hiding my true feelings.
*This piece was originally written for, and appeared in For Harriet in 2015.