"I tried to drink it away
I tried to put one in the air
I tried to dance it away
I tried to change it with my hair"
These words come from "Cranes in the Sky," an amazing song performed by the ever-so-lovely Solange Knowles. The song describes a woman's struggle to free herself of what seems to be sadness or depression. These days, it's hard to open up any social media platform without seeing the popular hashtag #BlackGirlMagic. It's become so popular that a similar hashtag, #BlackBoyJoy, has even made its debut onto the social media scene thanks to Chance the Rapper. It is wonderful that we have this growing campaign celebrating not just Black excellence but Black female excellence! Acknowledging our successes is beautiful, however, I wish that we were able to recognize our wounds as well. No one necessarily wants to celebrate self-pity, doubt, anger or depression. But, we can't ignore these emotions either. Think of a hardworking, educated, accomplished Black woman. Now, imagine hearing that that same woman has checked into rehab or committed suicide as a result of her depression. Is she still magical? Before we know it, the magic is gone and she's labeled as crazy. I'll admit, I'm guilty of it. Because we fear that label so much, especially in the African-American community, we often deny our emotions until we reach the rehab stage or worse. These kinds of emotions are exactly what inspired Solange's song, which she wrote eight years ago during a very difficult time in her life. The lines above represent the denial that we "magical black girls" tend to feel when dealing with times of darkness. We will do just about anything to make it disappear but many refuse to actually address the problem. Maybe because so many people are expecting us to be "magical." We don't think that we have the right or the time to feel sad or lonely.
"I ran my credit card bill up
Thought a new dress would make it better
I tried to work it away
But that just made me even sadder"
I bet you're wondering how all of this relates to chronic illness. When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I went through a state of depression and didn't even realize it at first! Mainly because I didn't think that I could ever become depressed. Depression does not always mean that you aren't functional. I continued to spend time with friends, attend classes and go to work and parties. At the same time, I found myself crying at the mention of a single word or phrase and sometimes looking around a room and wondering why everyone else was so happy. As you're reading this, you may be thinking "Yea, that is dramatic." Dramatic, but real. The worst part about being functional during depression is the fact that you don't share your feelings with anyone. You'd rather mask your feelings than work through them. For about three months after my diagnosis, I would sleep for very long periods of time. When I would wake up, I would be angry. I surely didn't want to be dead but I just didn't want to come back to my reality. If I wasn't mad about being awake, I was driving myself crazy thinking about what my life would become or when my next relapse would happen. In my case, distracting myself did nothing but make me sadder.
"I tried to keep myself busy
I ran around in circles
Think I made myself dizzy
I slept it away, I sexed it away
I read it away
Away, away, away, away, away, away
Away, away, away, away, away"
So what happens when you finally recognize your sadness? I started praying heavily, probably more than ever before. I prayed against sadness and self-pity and I also found ways to gain advice from others like reading self-help articles. It may not have been the best way to go about things but it was MY WAY.
"Well it's like cranes in the sky
Sometimes I don't wanna feel those metal clouds
Yeah it's like cranes in the sky
Sometimes I don't wanna feel those metal clouds"
One of the most interesting things that I noticed about depression was the fact that it never really goes away. Whatever made you sad enough to become depressed, can easily make you sad again. Acknowledging it and working through it, however, is what stops it from consuming you. The thought of being on crutches or in a wheelchair will always make me want to cry. And whenever my foot falls asleep for too long, I want to explode. After I have these feelings, I pray. Whether you work through your feelings by praying, meditating, traveling, talking or simply looking up at the sky, you'll notice that the world isn't going to come crashing down on you. Whatever you do, JUST DON'T IGNORE IT. It's okay to admit that you're just not feeling like yourself or that you need to be alone. Once you do that, take time to heal. Find the strength to continue being the magical black girl that you are and appreciate the fact that you go through tough times but you ALWAYS prevail. Overcoming adversity is what makes us so magical in the first place. :-)
UNTIL NEXT TIME!
STAY TUNED AND STAY FEARLESS