May is mental health awareness month. We have made it to the eighteenth blog of this year and we are discussing the truth of depression on a Black woman. Does faking it to make it our ultimate detriment? Find out below. Depression is a disorder thatis defined as an extreme despondency and dejection. Depression looks different on every person due to our experiences and how we are effected by the environments we were raised in. For Black women depression often looks like ‘fake it until you make it.’ The first time I heard this phrase was by my friend Kim during my rebellious lost adolescent years. She was about three years older than me and very self-assured. She appeared to have life figured out and finessed her way into getting what she wanted by utilizing her feminine wiles. And if she didn’t know what to do or how to get what she wanted, she’d “fake it until she made it” flip it and actually make it. Being in her shadow allowed me to grow into my own image because I at the time, didn’t know who I was but I knew who I didn’t want to be, and that was forgotten. Fake it until I make it.
As I tested boundaries and figured out what this thing called life was, I was breaking into pieces internally. Between by double life as a Jehovah Witness member (not by choice but by force, mother) and my ‘it girl’ persona I had drowned deep into sadness, depression and hopelessness. I hated going to weekend long meetings and preaching sessions but I had to because my mother wasn’t taking no as an option. I hated being part of those bougie people who viewed me as the awkward Black girl who looked mean and says nothing. I was an introvert so holier than thou members began spreading falsehoods that I possibly was mentally challenged. But when I was outside of the congregation I was able to be my authentic self, or as authentic as I thought I was. I could be as multifaceted without red tapes or scoldings. I could sing my favorite pop songs with all the cuss words and talk about the boys who caught my gaze. I could explore what it meant to be me and not be demonized. But none of this stopped the feeling of life being utterly lackluster and useless. Living to fake it until I make it.
I needed escapism to deal with life. To breathe easily, I needed something else to look forward to. I needed inspiration that my current reality would eventually get better by some miraculous life altering event. At one particular time I was so lost in this ideal life that only existed in my head that I believed it would come true like blue to the skies. I just knew my golden ticket to a new happy family was just around the corner. Except the corner kept getting longer or my speed got slower, whichever it was, that ideal life didn’t happen and I felt devastatingly rejected. But I never told anyone of my dissociative fantasy of escapism. I lived in the present which was anything but happy. I boarded the bus to school daily faking it until I make it.
College was a time of me proofing my work. I needed to prove that I wasn’t a nothing worthless dumb high school drop out. While my peers were preparing for prom I graduated with my GED (the youngest in my class) then went college scouting. I felt like college would validate my existence and make up for the fact that I dropped out of high school (had a mental breakdown that landed me in a mental hospital). The pressure was on but I knew I could handle it. The first semester went and came fast like the summer, in fact it was the summer semester but by fall I felt the pressure, not so much academically but the fact that my significant other at the time and I were on a rollercoaster of a relationship from hell. He was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and narcissism, I was a young and impressionable empath trying to save the world because the world couldn’t save me. Needless to say the relationship was rocky (I wrote about it here titled: Borderline Personality Disorder EXPLORED). Though I was lost in depression, the only thing that made getting out of bed after a 12 hour naps possible was him. Our conversations usually left me in tears with empty tissue boxes and a sore voice but it was worth it. I needed some type of reassurance that the toxicity I was bearing would have a silver lining at the end. That we’d grow into being healthy functional adults. I the therapist (psychology major at the time) who helped healed my future husband into the ideal husband.
No pain no gain, right?
Love hurts, right?
If you can’t love me at my worse you don’t deserve me at my best, right?
W R O N G.
The toxic manipulation got to a repetitive point where I couldn’t keep sacrificing myself for him anymore and the need to save him to make me whole kept on devouring me whole. A victory, a small victory but a victory nonetheless of choosing me and me being my own (s)hero. Leaving to fake it until I make it.
I wrapped up my last college classes in December 2013 (my diploma says 2014 as the year of graduation). None of my family RSVP’d a seat to my graduation which embarrassed me not to come either. I thought the earth would have spun off kilter, my career would be calling me up, the fantasy adulting you see in the movies or T.V. shows would *poof* happen to me after graduating and when it didn’t I was devastated. I had about $23,000 of student loans and no plan on how I could utilize a piece of paper that basically said for four years I consistently retained and regurgitated information to the best of other people’s liking and they in turned handed me this paper. The wave of sadness, depression and hopelessness crashed over me. I didn’t have the time to ‘be depressed’ because I had loans to pay and money to make. So I turned to writing. An apple a day keeps the doctor away had shifted to a poem a day kept suicidal thoughts away. Getting up to fake it until I make it.
I looked forward to writing and even felt confident enough to share it with certain people. It was my dreadful beautiful twisted obscure fantasy of realism and disappearance with a twinge of hope. Not sure what exactly I wanted to come out of this pouring of my truth but I knew I wanted to bare it all in the name of colorful truth. As helplessness covered my hopes of an ideal life the words written from my dome to my OneDrive kept me alive even though it was just for the next day. I lived for that day to come to write again. The darkness became my light until darkness became dusk to then dawn. Life grabbed me by the throat, no longer being able to find time to write my thoughts as freely. Engaging in relationships as toxic as my upbringing. Feeling a sense of defeat when they didn’t manifest into happily-ever-after. Hard warm tears falling in the wee hours analyzing where I went wrong searching for love outside of myself. Waking up the next day rebooted into fake it until I make it.
Working with children was supposed to be my redemption of sort. Helping the kids from being tangled in emotional torment like me-- unconsciously another extension of me. But it didn’t quite workout like that. The expectation to be a reliable anal mule, endlessly, with little return or respect and the few benefits I did get I had to tip toe around instability to get. Administration with its hierarchy and favoritism coupled with its tiresome laundry list of to do chipped at the desire to help children. Or perhaps the reasons I told myself why I wanted to help kids was selfish from the beginning. A way for me to have a do-over in childhood by giving all I had to children that I never got as a child. The flame burnt out quickly and I found myself dreading the day. Desperately seeking for 6:00 to arrive with no late excuses. Old feelings of inability to breathe, sleep caressing my eyelids closer to 2:00 than 10:00. Motivation slipping my gasp like water to a fist. But I still get up to fake it until I make it.
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