written by Jody-Ann Gauld, Founder of Therapy United
One night last week I woke up at around 3am, I couldn’t sleep and my mind was restless. I picked up my phone and started scrolling down Instagram. Then I flew over to Snapchat, and I did this back and forth for about 20 minutes in attempt to make myself fall asleep again but that didn’t work. I got out of bed, went to my balcony, and by this time it was around 4am. I didn’t sleep that or the following nights after. What was making me so worried? My thoughts seemed so scattered and they moved so fast I couldn’t put my hands on what was making me so anxious that I couldn’t sleep.
The next day, I decided I would call my therapist and schedule a session with her. In that session, she asked me why I was so upset. I started telling her some of the thoughts that reoccur, since they were all I could remember. I told her “It’s like something seems like a big deal to me but I know it’s not a big deal… like I shouldn’t care this much.” She asked me why this thought of mine was not a big deal and I told her “because much worse things have happened, like my brother was shot in the neck, my mom got cancer, my dad doesn’t even talk to me, so many people died where I grew up…So, why should this small thing be a big deal?”
My therapist’s eyes widened and she said “Oh my God, your brother got what?” After 3 months of therapy, this was the first time my therapist heard this.
In that moment, I realized that somehow, I have normalized my trauma and I never allowed myself to process anything that has happened to me. As black people, our trauma is normalized. Why would I think my brother getting shot was traumatic for me if black men are killed every day? See, within the black community, we are subconsciously taught that we must be strong. Pain and struggle is normal so I should never express that I am in pain and that I am struggling. Everyone is okay so I should be okay too.
In reality we are not okay. From 1990 to 2014, the suicide rate in the U.S. has risen to 24 percent and growing. Major depressive disorder is now the leading diagnosed mental illness and suicide is now the one of the leading causes of death for adolescents and young adults, while 60% of adolescents and 37% adults remain untreated for major depressive disorder. Creative disciplines also make up this number with 2.3% dancers, 2.1% musicians, 2.1% photographers, 2.8% visual artists, and 4.5% writers.
What can we do about this?
The first step in depression and suicide prevention is self-care, because the truth is, we can’t give from an empty cup. The second step is to truly care about our friends and loved ones. Ask them how they truly feel and ask them how they are coping with their lives stressors. Invite them to join in whatever you believe is keeping you from becoming depressed. This could include inviting them to church, a workout, the beach, an open mic night etc. In Ephesians 4:16, it reads
that “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” In order for the body of Christ to be healthy we all have to do our part in staying united.
If you or someone you know is living with depression and is interested in seeking help, contact your insurance provider and inquire about coverage for mental health services. Insurance companies including Medicaid also tend to have local practitioners listed on their websites including the distance from one’s home to the practitioner. For personalized help feel free to contact Jody-Ann Gauld, founder of Therapy United at Jodyanngauld@yahoo.com.
This article was written by Jody-Ann Gauld, Founder of Therapy United