As the world mourns the passing of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain I felt the need to share my story with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. There were so many insensitive comments on social media surrounding Kate Spade’s death, but there was one that really bothered me “she was rich, why was she depressed?” News flash! Depression doesn’t discriminate based on sex, race, national origin, whether you’re fat or skinny, tall or short, rich or poor. Depression is an illness just like pneumonia, asthma, and cancer.According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Services, African-Americans are 25 percent more likely to experience serious psychological distress, such as major depression, suicide, PTSD, and anxiety than non-Hispanic whites. The stigma surrounding mental illness in the black community leaves me speechless and if you know me you know that I’m never speechless. To mention the word “mental illness” is almost considered to be taboo in the black community. I can remember growing up and there was a guy that walked around the neighborhood talking to himself and we called him “Crazy Larry.” Of course, at the time as a child, I had no idea why we called him “Crazy Larry.” Hell I thought that was his real name but now that I look back; it was because he was mentally ill.
Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep you balanced you must keep moving
Now on to my struggle with depression. On November 21st, I welcomed a healthy bouncing boy into the world. Jacque Michael was born at 34 weeks and 5 days, weighing a whopping 9 pounds and 1 ounce born via c-section as had my previous two children. Little, did I know 7 days later my world would be turned upside down and inside out. After giving birth I knew something wasn’t right. Didn’t know exactly what but I knew something was wrong. I can remember being in the hospital several days after giving birth and looking at myself in the mirror and thinking, “wow, my stomach is bigger now since I’d had the baby than before.” I thought that was weird but all the medical professionals kept telling me it is just gas and I needed to walk. (There were a lot of signs that were missed but at the moment I can’t go into details about them)
I was rushed by the paramedics to the same hospital that I was just discharged from less than 24 hours ago. The pain in my stomach was excoriating. I remember screaming so loud that I woke my kids up out of their sleep. I had no idea that type of pain even existed. After having a series of test ran there appeared this man in a white coat and I immediately knew something was seriously wrong. He introduced himself and told me that I needed to have surgery right away. He told me that there was a hole in my intestines and depending on where the hole was there was a possibility that I would end up with a colostomy bag.
I never imagined in a million years that I would be 38 years old lying in a hospital bed fighting for my life. I had lost the ability to control my bowels. Since I had no control of my bowels I would have accidents on myself and the nursing staff would have to come and clean me up. Talk about a blow. I cried every time that I had an accident. My life as I knew it no longer existed.The past six months have been a roller coaster of emotions for me. Sad, angry, helplessness, fear, you name it I’ve felt it. I remember being so angry.
Angry, at my doctor
Angry, that no one noticed that it wasn’t just gas
Angry, because it was preventable
Angry, that the 1st month of my son’s life I wasn’t able to bond with him
Angry, that I had to drop out of school
Angry, that all my hair fell out
Angry, that I have thousands of dollars of medical bills
Angry, that I can no longer eat ice cream!LOL
I replayed the incident in my head from start to finish every day for months. Not only daily but several times a day. Several times a day turned into all day. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get out of my mind what happened to me. I thought about it over and over and over again, so much that I was sure that I was going “crazy.” I was re-living the traumatic event daily and started to wonder if this was my new life. Growing up in church I was always told that prayer is the answer to everything. While I do believe in the power of prayer I also realized that in order for me to begin healing mentally, I needed help. I scheduled an appointment with my family doctor and she told me that I showed signs of depression and that I needed to speak with a professional that specialize in cognitive therapy behavior. The first couple of appointments with my therapist was hard because speaking about the event brought difficult feelings to the surface. My therapist diagnosed me with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Post-traumatic stress syndrome. I’d never been in the military, how could I have PTSD? I assumed PTSD was only for soldiers that had been in the military.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a traumatic event. A traumatic event is a life-threatening event such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adult or childhood.
4 things that my therapist said I can do to help with my depression.
- PROPER NUTRITION – There have been studies to show that an unhealthy diet could worsen depression symptoms, and that a healthy diets can be used to help treat depression.
- DO SOMETHING DAILY THAT YOU ENJOY – Doing something that you enjoy daily is the first step to start enjoying life again. Polish your nails, do a crossword puzzle, read a book, watch your favorite TV show; it doesn’t have to be anything big. Adding something you enjoy into your daily routine is a great start.
- GET DAILY EXERCISE – Research has shown that exercise can prevent and help with depression. It helps improve your mood and reduce anxiety.
- GET 8 HOURS OF SLEEP – we all know the importance of having a good night sleep. If you suffer from depression getting a good night sleep may seem impossible but is necessary.
My intestine ruptured over 6 months ago and I still have bad days. There are some days that I just cry; some days I wonder why me, some days I still replay the traumatic event in my head. One thing I have learned is to just take it one day at a time. Also, know that it does get better but it takes time.
If you begin to have suicidal thoughts please think about all the people that would be affected by your death. If you ever need someone to speak with feel free to contact me. I would be more than happy to share my story with you and some things that I’ve learned along the way. I don’t have all the answers but I will share with you what I do know. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Have you ever faced depression before in your life? If so comment below, this is a safe place.