Minorities and Mental Health Issues…No, It’s Not Just for White People

Posted: February 1, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Depression sucks.

Depression drains.

Depression is a motherfucker.

Pardon the frank language (ehh..not really), but I need people , especially Black,  Hispanic and other minority people to understand something that has always plagued our communities but has been ignored, denied and brushed aside too long.There is a stigma placed on something that’s swept under the rug and it needs to stop because it’s a dangerous problem. And it’s time our pride get pushed to the side.

Today, I like many others, have heard the news on the passing of Mr. Don Cornelius. To then hear that he possibly took his own life reopens old wounds for me. Not that I knew him personally, but having lost my son’s father to suicide. I can understand. Having dealt with severe depression for what I now know to be most of my life, I can understand. Being a person of color and knowing how “people will look at you.” because you’re “crazy” I can understand.

Not too long ago, I confessed to someone that I had entered into therapy. And I only confessed it because I had gotten annoyed at hearing her go on about how depression should have a “time-frame” of no more than a few hours. In other words, confront the problem, deal with and move on. I knew I would get the side-eye look but I still stood my ground looked her dead in the eye and said. “I suffer from depression. I am in therapy to help me deal with it.” Thankfully, she shut up after that. But it also made me feel better to tell her that, because it doesn’t make me any different. My views on life are certainly askew and I have a pretty dark sense of humor , true, but I’m still pretty “normal”.

“How bad could it/things be…?”

I always hated that question. Because while one cannot understand “how things could be that bad” to someone suffering from severe depression and/or bi-polar disorder, it just is. They don’t WANT it to be, and trust me they are trying like all hell to understand it themselves. But amongst minorities, it just seems to be that we aren’t supposed to be depressed, we aren’t supposed to be down. And we don’t get the proper diagnosis or help. We will clown and rag on someone, call them crazy. Not knowing the internal demons they are carrying, not realizing that we have to stop placing this taboo on it and try to get the person help. Given his age, I can only assume Mr. Cornelius, like most older people who complete suicide, was terminably ill and didn’t want to put his family through the torture of watching him die or didn’t want to feel any pain. There are a lot of reasons. My own depression was heightened in grieving for my son’s father and trying to come to terms with what he’d done, which I still haven’t been able to do fully and probably never will, family issues, feeling unsatisfied at my job and then some. I realized I needed help because I couldn’t cope. I couldn’t just “let go and let God” anymore because (no offense to the Big Dude) he wasn’t helping and prayer wasn’t helping.

Depression, Clinical Depression, Bi-polar Disorder…There is a difference

Depression is a part of life. Most people will go through a few small bouts of depression a few times in their life, depending on the circumstance. Clinical Depression  is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or longer. It makes you want to not get out of bed, it makes your body hurt. It discourages you. It changes your view on life in general and perception on yourself, your life and the people around you. Bi-polar disorder is a condition in which people go back and forth between periods of a very good or irritable mood and depression. The “mood swings” between mania and depression can and do happen very quickly. Add drugs and alcohol to the mix and you have a real dangerous ball game. Understanding definitions is helpful to gaining understanding but, it is dangerous to self-diagnose. That is what professionals are for and there is nothing wrong with seeking help. Absolutely none.

The info line from the Facebook page “Putting A Face On Suicide” makes it clear: “Every 40 seconds somewhere around the world someone dies by suicide, that’s 99 people every 66 minutes. Every 15 minutes someone dies by suicide in the United States, that’s 96 or so people each day.”


Symptoms of Depression:

  • Agitation, restlessness, and irritability
  • Dramatic change in appetite, often with weight gain or loss
  • Very difficult to concentrate
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness, self-hate, and guilt
  • Becoming withdrawn or isolated
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping

Depression can appear as anger and discouragement, rather than feelings of sadness.


I guess my basic reason for writing this is that I am so tired of people assuming that they can remain untouched from something. I am tired of seeing people flail in the sea without a lifeline. We are all human. We all have our problems. Mental health issues touch us all. Therapy is not just for white people. Getting treatment doesn’t make you crazy…..

Ignoring it on the other hand…does.

  1. kathy says:

    well said. my husband struggles with depression and PTSD daily.
    I’m glad you’re in therapy lady, because your right, ignoring the problem only makes you feel worse.

  2. Michael Galambosy says:

    Well spoken. Thank you for writing this.

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