Below is an anonymous submission of one black man's bout with depression. A mental illness black men aren't encouraged to seek help with, but rather suck it up and self medicate.
I’m Not Ok. And That’s Fine.
It takes some real balls to admit that. As humans (especially men [most especially black men]), we are told that saying that means you’re crazy or insane, or using “mental issues” as some kind of slur or scarlet letter. “Man the fuck up” is the easy rebuttal to that. But sometimes you gotta get real with yourself and ask that question. Take a deep breath, and wonder truly “Are you ok?” and not from someone else asking it. Ask yourself that.
I’ve lied to many ppl about that question for at least 6 months. I say that because I have a feeling I was going down this road already. I just didn’t know it or was ignoring signs. But when my uncle died (the one who was a father figure for me when my dad was on drugs & while he was in prison), I can truly say that was the day I knew something wasn’t right with me. But as a (black) man, I thought I could get through it. But I couldn’t. I haven’t. Would it help that life decided to be an avalanche of bad shit happening in that same time? Nope. But still I refused.“I’m good” I would tell myself to try and shake it off. Slowly but surely, I was accepting that it wasn’t. Today, I accepted I’m going through a depression. I’m not Ok. But a silver lining came through it: That’s fine to say that.
Was it a dark time? Fuckin right. Did I see my issues and say “I could see why someone in this same position would commit suicide”? Yeah, I did. But that only made me look at myself knowing that I can get through this, and I will. Right now, I can’t say how. But the first step was actually accepting what I’m in at this point. I get emotional seeing that word depression because it’s trying to have me coward out, but I know I can’t. Suicide or even harming myself does more damage to others than me fighting this. So I’ll fight & come out better. It’s not only because I have no other, it’s that I refuse to have any other choice try to make it an option.
I’m sure jokes will come out of it or ridicule of speaking about something personal. If this helps someone who’s going through the same thing or worse realizes there’s a light at the other end of the tunnel, then it was worth it. The hardest step it the first one. To admit that you’re not ok doesn’t make you weak minded or willed. It makes you strong to admit faults & sadness in your life. So look in the mirror or just ask yourself: Are you Ok? Because I’m not. I cant lie to others anymore. But I will be because I accepted that its fine to not be ok. For now.