Allowed to Feel

Instead of just talking to you about the worst event of my life, I also wanted to write about something serious. The amount of African Americans in this world that don't take mental health seriously. The toxic behavior is passed down through generations. Everyone assumes that the color of our skin protects us against depression. Many African American feel like they aren't allowed to talk to someone. Everyone allows them to be alone a world that hates them. Why aren't there more people talking to African Americans with depression? Everyone knows that it's there, yet, we ignore it with a passion. My mom had a serious health condition that ate at her body fat. The person I loved the most was slowly becoming someone else. Her anger was stronger, and her weight was at a all time low. She would yell at me and my brothers about everything. Until one day, she didn't say anything to us. She didn't look me in the eyes, and I knew it wasn't just me. She was fighting this condition with every bone in her body. My mother would eat the fattiest and healthiest foods on the planet. The person that loved a good medium-rare steak, gave up all meats. She was the strongest person in my small little world. You could imagine my surprise when she stopped going to work, stopped eating, and stopped talking. Everyday after school, I came in my house to see her on the couch. She wouldn't say anything to me or even look in my direction. Everyday I watched my mother get smaller, and smaller. She weighed more than me before the condition, but I quickly surpassed her. I walked in on her pulling on her skin in the bathroom, and it finally hit me, my mom didn't feel beautiful anymore. Another day, she finally talked to me, and it was more than a few words. She grabbed my attention with a those words: "Keiona, I seriously think there's something wrong with me. I think I'm depressed." After that, it was back to silence. Nothing came from her for a month. Just looks. I was communicating with my mom with facial expressions. I lost her. I was 15 years old. I lost my mom, and I didn't know how to get her back. That hurts, I wish you understood, I was supposed to be her ball of joy. Why couldn't I make her smile? Why couldn't I get a laugh? Just one? Did I lose her forever? I did learn that I wasn't ready to deal with something like that. So, you want to know what I did? I went to my grandmother and I told her everything. Everything that my mother was going through and everything she said to me. Want to know her response? Ladies and gentlemen, would you like to see into my world? My grandmother said my mom wasn't depressed. My mother was fine, and that she's just upset that her butt is gone. "Black people aren't allowed to feel depression, we're too strong for that. Just pray on it." My mom was going through something real! Why didn't she help her? Who was supposed to help her, because I couldn't do it. I realize that every black person has experienced depression, whether it be firsthand or not. They tell you to pray about it, but I'm going to be honest, praying doesn't work. My mom openly said she didn't want to be here, and that she wanted to kill herself. How does a 15 year old process that? How was I supposed to pray about that? I want to say something to everyone, not just the black community, it's okay to feel. IT'S OKAY TO FEEL. IT'S OKAY TO WANT TO TALK TO SOMEONE. IT'S OKAY TO HAVE DEPRESSION. People shouldn't have to feel like they need to suck it up. I wish I understood that when I was 15. I watched my mother more closely, and made sure she didn't have access to sharp objects. I tried to pull her out of her darkness. I played the violin for her every time I got new music. I even tried to learn new instruments, because I remembered how much she loved to hear me play. I tried to take her place, and watch over my brothers more. The bills didn't get paid in the end, and we ended up moving somewhere else. My mom got out of it, I don't know how, but she laughs again. She even wants to buy some land, and start preparing for a bigger house. She works harder than I've ever seen, but I can honestly say that she's happy. To every African American out there, please understand that depression isn't something you can just ignore. It's okay to get some serious help from someone. Jesus is powerful, but making sure you're mentally okay is safer. Don't ignore someone else if they have depression. Don't tell them that they need to pray more. Actually that goes out to everyone. Please take mental health seriously, because if I didn't, I would've lost my mom for real. Remember that it's perfectly natural to feel this way about anything. Talk to someone. Please.

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