I was depressed for almost 3 years and didn't know it.
As a kid, I suffered some from what I know now as some pretty intense anxiety. I had no idea what it was back then, but I would literally worry about everything. What would happen if Ebola came to America? When will the world might end? What would happen if my mom got cancer? What if we were driving next to a gas truck and it just blew up? What if there was a war in the United States? What if there is an F-5 tornado that hits our house? What if this storm causes a lot of lightning and I get struck by it? The list goes on and on. The sad thing is that I was like 9 years old.
When I was in big crowds I would have anxiety attacks. It would feel like I was on the outside of my body and I would inwardly freak out. I would also have long bouts of being really sad, but didn't know what to do to fix it. Of course I told my mom, but I don't even think she knew what to call it. No one really talked about mental health back then. Especially not in the Black community.
Eventually I got really busy with friends and sports and most of those anxiety issues sort of went away. I lived a good chunk of my life free from that sort of anxiety and depression. Then in my late twenties, my dad passed away, then I left a really toxic workplace, and then I started to have a ton of health problems. I didn't connect all the dots at the time, because each of these things just sort of happened one thing at a time and I thought I dealt with them as they came. But apparently they were all triggers. On the outside I was great. I hung out with all of my friends, worked out, was very active in my church community, even leading one of the ministry teams. I would go to happy hours and out dancing, and looked like I had it all together on the outside, but when I was alone, I was incredibly lonely and sad and anxious. I was numb and no one knew. This somehow became my normal. I just knew I was getting increasingly sad and desperate.
It wasn't until 2 or 3 years into it that I really realized something was wrong.
I got into a huge disagreement with a friend and completely fell apart over it. It really wasn't a big deal, but apparently everything I had been dealing with just came flooding out. I was probably at my lowest at this point. I was clearly depressed, almost textbook, crying most nights at home alone, sad, numb and dealing with the anxiety again. Of course, I was still hanging out with friends, paying bills, etc, again no one knew but me. For a while it got scary, because I started thinking about what the point was of all of this. I wanted it to stop. I prayed, a lot to feel normal again.
What saved me, was the stories of three other people. One was a Pastor who told the story of how he had slipped into depression and tried praying and everything spiritual that he could, but eventually had to see a counselor. Another was a friend in ministry at my church who shared that they too had a therapist. The last was one of my best friends who is not connected to the church at all who was learning from her therapist about how her past trauma was affecting her present relationships. Eventually she was the one who gave me the number. She didn't pry about what was going on, I'm pretty sure she didn't even know, she just shared the number with me.
I called and got connected with an older female therapist who I loved. I cried the first time I sat in her office. I told her at the time, I didn't even know what was wrong and she just listened. We talked through the struggles of being female and minority of losing a parent early and its effects and pretty much everything. I went to see her every week for several months until eventually I didn't need support that intense anymore. With therapy and lots of prayer and acceptance of myself and of what this was, I came out of it. A few months later I could actually feel again. I felt much more hopeful and was able to move on.
Of course, there are many more details to this story, and I still struggle off and on with anxiety, but I now have the tools to get help when I need it. Also I wanted to keep this short. I wrote this because I don't think many people would look at me and think that I struggled with something like depression and anxiety and PTSD, but it can touch anybody. That's what I wanted people to know. It doesn't matter if they are church goers or not, if they are leaders, wealthy people in the community or your bubbly, super social best friend. Depression has no "type." It was the three people who shared their testimony with me, not even knowing what I was going through or would go through who made me feel okay with reaching out to someone. So it was my turn to reach out.
There is a scripture in the Bible that says "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony;.." Testimonies are so powerful and important so I just thought I would share mine and I'm hopeful other people will share theirs also.
I hope someone reads this and gets help if they need it.