If you’ve ever been on a plane you know the flight attendant says to put on your oxygen mask before you help someone else. Well think about that the next time you feel overwhelmed, frustrated or stressed. While these feelings aren’t a mental illness, if left unattended they can progress into depression. At least that was part of my journey.
As a woman, let alone a black woman, we tend to do for everyone else first.
Meet their needs.
Run their errands.
Fix their problems.
By the time we finish taking care of everyone else, there isn’t time to take care of self.
Why is this important?
Depression in the African American community is a silent disease. Oftentimes a silent killer. Most people get treatment for an illness. However, with depression it’s hard to get treatment if you don’t even get diagnosed. The reason a lot of us don’t get diagnosed is a variety of reasons.
Let’s go back to putting on your oxygen mask.
Take a moment and think of all you are currently doing for other people. Now estimate how much time you think you devote to them (family, friends, work, volunteer, church, neighbors, community, child’s school, child’s activities, etc). Now write down what you do for yourself. Be honest. Do you wait until you’ve done for others before you do for yourself? If so, you need to put on your oxygen mask.
Now your oxygen mask will be different from mine. For me, my oxygen mask is alone time. That can be sitting in silence, watching Netflix, taking a long bath or taking a nap. But it gives me time to quiet my mind and relax. To freaking breath. Another oxygen mask of mine is journaling. This helps me to release anything holding me back so I can be free to do all the things I want to do.