When Being Strong Kills You

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard men tell me that I’m crazy. But, I think what I’ve heard uttered in frustration is something that I want to bring attention to now. The myth of the strong black woman. This myth that seeks to guide us as we grow up in facts cripples us by the time we’re grown women.

We’re taught that we shouldn’t be vulnerable. That we should be able to get through the problems that we encounter with strength and determination. We should just keep on keeping on. But, that’s not true. So many black women suffer from depression and are not getting the help that they need.

We try to explain it all and say “Oh, she’s just a little sick right now. She needs to pray on it and she’ll be better.” We can’t pray away mental illness. We have to address it and we have to stop teaching our girls that they have to grin and bear the pain. It’s too much.

Being strong is killing them. I’m tired of reading stories about my sisters who are struggling with underlying cases of mental illness and no one in their circle seems to know it. Blame it on the fact that we are uneducated or unconcerned about mental health in this country, but I have to say “Please stop ignoring it. It’s killing us.”

anxiety_depression

I know. I get tired. I get tired of being a strong black woman. I watched my grandmother raise 11 children on her own and then raise some of her children’s children. If that wasn’t enough, she took in foster kids. One summer that I spent with her she had 13 other children that summer. Who the heck openly commits to raising 13 children for the summer? Why? I know she loved us but did anyone think that maybe that was too much? Let’s alternate kids for the summer?

My own mother pushed aside her pain to raise her children by herself with no financial, emotional or physical support from my dad. I still remember the day she said to me “Your dad is gone. I need you to be a big girl and help me with your brother and sister.” I was 10. Thus began the need to be a strong black girl who would become a strong black woman.

I’m not againstΒ therapy. I’m a big supporter of the need for therapy. I will often say that black folks need three things: Jesus, wine and therapy. We often neglect therapy believing that we can pray away our pain. But, if you are in immense pain can you even hear God’s response? No. The noise is too loud.

So, we put on our cape and continue to fight for the injustices of the world and never worry about how it is affecting us. How it is killing us because we are supposed to worry about everyone else but ourselves. We don’t want to be weak. Therefore, we continue to do everything around us to make people not see that we are cracking under the pressure. Try to live a normal life.

We deny that we are hurting for the convenience of others. To try to appear strong in spite of the pain. To endure. To deny the ugly truth that sometimes life is hard and we need help. We need your listening ear. We need sympathy and we need your encouragement that we should seek help.

I’m tired of reading stories where black women are killing their children, each other or themselves in what is clearly undiagnosed mental health issues. We have to stop saying be strong and tell them that it’s okay to not be strong. Be you. Find your authentic voice and get help. It’s okay.

shirley-depress

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I don’t own these photos. A quick Google search was performed to find them.

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “When Being Strong Kills You

  1. So true and I totally agree. I was depressed, I talked with my doctor and was started on medication. It helped but there is a stigma/taboo for us black women. I have realized that I don’t have it all together. We have so much put on us, that we just keep going. We do not focus on our health issues because we are too busy taking care of others. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! I read that article and I feel extremely saddened for both of the women and their families. This is a clear case of a mental health issue. The more we talk about it, the more we can recognize when our loved ones are not well.
    I’m so glad you’re talking about it. I always say reaching out for help is a strength, not a weakness. I especially love that you say “we can’t pray away mental illness”. So true!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I had to reblog. I thought you made a lot of touching points and I agree sometimes I think having to be the strong one 24/7 is not always so positive. It is draining and most people, especially men do not realize the burden that a lot of women carry. Thank you for the post!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great blog! Making a decision to seek help from others, is a BIG NO! NO! for me..and this part “We deny that we are hurting for the convenience of others. “, hit me! Damn! I always act strong, in-front of so many people, most specially to my family or loved one’s, but inside I’m not!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I know, but trust me you will feel better. It helps to have an outsider give you prospective. We’re women and we should be able to show vulnerability and stop trying to save the world. It’s okay to save ourselves first.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s