Poor, Poor, Sisterella

We all know the story of Cinderella. How she was made to serve her stepmother and stepsisters. And never had time or nice things for herself.

So how does this apply to depression in black women?

Sisterella is a term in the book, “Shifting:  The Double Lives of Black Women and Depression” by Charisse Jones and Kumea Shorter-Gooden, Ph.D. Sisterella means “a constellation of depressive symptoms that have been described as unable to relax, works very hard and is disconnected from one’s own personal needs, suffers quietly; experiences excessive guilt, feels worthless and unworthy.”

“Much like the classic Cinderella character, Sisterella is the black woman who honors others but denies herself. She achieves in her own right-indeed, she may overachieve- yet she works tirelessly, sometimes masochistically, to promote, protect and appease others. She is trying so hard to be what others want and need that she lost control of the shifting process. Its overtaken her…She has lost sight of her own gifts as well as her own needs. Her identify is confused, her personal goals are deeply buried, and she shrinks inwardly. She becomes depressed, sometimes severely so.”

As I share my journey overcoming depression, I share this with you. Too many black women have become a Sisterella without realizing it.

We’re overworked.

Stressed for many reasons.

And wishing our Prince Charming will save us.

Guess what?

Your ‘Prince Charming’ could be journaling, therapy, counseling, saying ‘No’ to others, going on a solo trip or anything that eliminates unnecessary stress in your life. Because we’re seen as “strong” what we feel or don’t share isn’t seen as “traditional” depression symptoms. So our angst often goes unnoticed not only by family and close friends but professionals as well.

Today I urge you to stop living a Sisterella life. Find your ‘Prince Charming’. And become the Queen waiting to shine from within.

2 thoughts on “Poor, Poor, Sisterella

  1. This is so true! I am definitely learning to prioritize my needs differently. For so long I blindly took care of parents, husband, children and friends without any thought of the toll it was taken on me. I am learning that when I prioritize my needs above the needs of others I am actually better equipped to take care of my family and friends, when needed. As women, especially black women, we must remember to put ourselves first and shed the Sisterella syndrome!

    1. I think by default it’s a learned trait especially for black women. But learning to put self first was a hard lesson to learn. It’s not selfish. It’s self-preservation.

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