Mama’s been faking it.
I’ve been in a very bad space lately. Writing this post took nearly two months to accomplish. I have been wrestling with a lot:
My mother’s death in March. Handling her mismanaged affairs.
Tried to go back to work in April. Too soon for several reasons.
Got let go from said job in May. My first time getting fired in 30 years of work experience.
Health on a steady decline. Feeling like a hoopty that breaks down faster than you can fix it.
Feeling estranged from my church. I know…they’re all too busy ministering to the world to pay attention to members in need.
What you should have heard in that was sarcasm and abject bitterness. I’m not trying to be funny or disrespectful to anyone else with mental issues; I’m just being real about how I’m feeling.
I should be suicidal. I should be homicidal. I don’t know if I’m either or both. Here is what I do know, in a nutshell:
- My world is the four walls of my apartment. I don’t care about anything or anyone beyond that.
- Church folk (not to be confused with Christians) disgust me.
- I REALLY do not trust white people, particularly white women.
- This country is swirling down the toilet, and nobody with the power to change it seems to care.
- If Wakanda existed, I would have renounced my American citizenship two years ago.
We Black women tell ourselves that mental illness is something that *other* women have the luxury of getting. That *we* don’t have time for that kind of thing. Whatever’s wrong, just suck it up and keep it moving. And when that inevitably doesn’t work, the reason is that we didn’t try hard enough to get better, and that the answer is just to keep busy.
Stop believing that we’re somehow above depression, anxiety, or mania. Because we’re making the wrong people agree with that misconception.
Mental illness is as real as climate change—and just as belittled in our community. Jenise thinks that I need to keep busy, which is what she does when life overwhelms her. Debating the issue is exhausting, so I don’t do it anymore.
But what I am doing doesn’t feel like it’s working, either.
I pretend to be okay. I talk and joke with Jenise. I smile a lot and reassure her that “I’m good” and “I’m fine”. Nine times out of ten, she believes me. That tenth time, we end up talking, and what comes out of my mouth is too much for her to deal with. She’s good for a hug, though.
When I’m alone, I’m neither good nor fine. I make a long list of things that I honestly need to do for the week—or for the day—and then, I don’t do any of them. I stare at the walls a lot. I watch a lot of court shows and wonder why people are so stupid with their money. I flashback to episodes with my mother that made a relationship with her impossible. I flashback to episodes with my sister that make me angry that she’s not here. Most often, I fuss at God out loud, wondering how I’m supposed to prosper and thrive if NONE of my experience, education, and training has worked for me.
My situation stinks. Granted, it could be much worse, but it still stinks. I am living a rudderless existence, and every attempt that I have made to get back on course has failed miserably.
Yes, I have talked to a few therapists, and even a church counselor. The counselor said to “love yourself more” and “talk to people”. Each therapist made noticeable attempts NOT to use the word “depression”. God forbid that I should qualify for disability benefits. One therapist went as far as “your condition is severe, but not severe enough yada yada…” What condition is severe enough to treat or compensate? A psychotic break, perhaps?
For the record, loving myself more is not the problem. The problem is that no one on earth appreciates who I am. What I do, maybe, but not who I am. Talk to people? Yeah, I’ll get right on that as soon as I shake off this pesky little impulse to bludgeon most of them in their sleep.
*It bears mentioning that all three therapists were white; two of them were women. The counselor was a rigidly opinionated Black woman who ended up being Jenise’s mentor and the closest thing I’ve ever had to a maternal figure.
Not trying to be dark. Just trying to work out for myself why this post took so long to produce.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me. It could just be the grieving process to the Nth power. It could be my frustration with pushing the reset button for the eighth time (I counted). And it could be something deeper, more troubling to my spirit. Whatever it is, it is not normal. It is not something that should be dismissed or minimized. And it is apparently beyond the understanding of a white therapist or church counselor.
In the meantime, I will smile and act normal to keep the people around me comfortable. I will keep busy with my artistic skill set. I will write and create and try-try-try to find my place among civilized humans. I may even see another therapist—if she can relate more to me.
And now, I have to stop.