Despite pop culture’s depiction of Black and Brown folks, when it comes to drama, many households are dealing with stressors that are closer to storylines on shows such as “Black-ish”, not “The Wire.“ That means the daily struggles you’re likely dealing with—systemic racism aside—aren’t about how to flip a brick of cocaine or make a welfare check last until the first of the month. You’re stressing over living within your budget (because bottomless brunches are oh so enticing), feeling less than or behind the ball when it comes to where you are vs. where you’d thought you be at this phase of life, managing professional relationships and crawling up the ladder at work, keeping your business afloat, missing relatives who’ve passed away (and likely not due to violence) and getting a handle on romantic relationships. These are the kinds of universal woes that people of color often are often taught to bury. And guess what? Neglecting to address them can definitely lead to depression, especially during the holiday season.
As the year comes to an end, more issues (e.g. loneliness, finances, familial drama, etc…) are triggered.
As the year comes to an end, more issues (e.g. loneliness, finances, familial drama, etc…) are triggered. Unaddressed, these issues can cause small bouts of the blues (think, feeling out of whack periodically and having to push yourself to get into your regular routine) or serious depression (intense feelings of sadness or apathy that impede your ability to function normally personally and professionally). There is no shame in grappling with depression. Sadness is not a “woman thing.” Sadness is not a “weak” thing. Depression is not a “white people” thing. It affects all races, socio-economic groups and both genders, though it may present differently. Men, for example, tend to present with symptoms like sleep problems, low sex drive and fatigue—things that seem naturally connected, so it’s easy to think you’re just out of whack when they first occur. Women tend to present with symptoms like anxiety, excessive crying and physical issues (e.g. headaches, pain) that don’t respond to treatment. But when any of these presenting issues last for more than a few weeks it’s important to take stock of what’s going on with you and how you’re going to deal with it before things get worse.
We all have different challenges. How we cope with issues determines our overall quality of life. If you’re feeling a little down, or know you’re depressed, take action. Here are some things you can do.
1 Find a Therapist
Therapy changes lives. A good counselor or therapist will create a safe space for your to say what’s been running through your mind and he or she won’t pass judgement. Instead, the therapist’s duty is to help you get to a place where you learn how to identify the things that trigger bad behavior, start to work on getting over life incidents that are holding you back and identify ways to be your best self. It’s a win.
2 Find a Support Group
This isn’t a group of great friends. This is a space where folks going through similar issues talk things out with a therapist or counselor who serves as a guide. The benefit of a support groups is camaraderie. These settings tend to be specifically helpful to folks going through acute trauma, such as grief, sex abuse or domestic violence, or specific life issue, like unemployment because the group normalizes extreme experiences.
3 Find Healthy Coping Mechanisms
Walking away. Writing a letter. Taking a boxing class. Healthy coping mechanisms are the productive ways people deal with stressful situations in real time. They are not one size fits all. Each individual has to figure out the coping styles that work for him or her, and what is most effective based on the situation. For example, how you deal with an argument with your romantic partner may be different than what helps you cope with disappointment at the job.
4 Change Your Diet
Making calculate changes like limiting processed foods that slow your metabolism down and increase intake of veggies and freshly cooked meals are a great way to get your energy up. Experts also suggest adding foods with folic acid, like green leafy vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acid, like salmon and chia seeds.
5 Set New Goals
Get. It. Popping. Set a small new intention, something that is tangible and will push you to move. Once you’ve accomplished that, do something bigger. Keep it going.
6 Get Out
Join a crossfit class—and go. Call your friends and schedule a time to get together. Volunteer somewhere interesting. Do whatever it takes to get active and feel purposeful again. Expect things to be hard at first but know it will get easier the more you go.
S. Tia Brown is a journalist, licensed therapist and a believer in love and the promise that it gives.