‘You’re black, depression doesn’t exist’

You’re sat in a dark, small room with nothing but your deepest, darkest thoughts. The wind whistles in the trees from outside, the leaves rustle on the floor in hurricane like motions, you sit in that corner off this room and attempt to focus on the sounds that nature provides… You’re trying and trying and trying – but then self-doubt creeps in and that swiftly turns to depression.’ 

It is actually a fact that ethnic minorities are less likely to suffer from mental illnesses. ().

Nevertheless, this somehow brings in room for dark experiences to follow. When it comes to the black (African) community and handling mental health – well – don’t be shocked to hear comments such as: “Mental health?” “Depression?! What’s that?” or “Depression isn’t real” “Depression is just one form of madness?”

This doesn’t go to say that every Afro-Caribbean is ignorant to mental health and it’s true issues. However, personal experience has taught me that expressing mental issues to traditional, strict, African parents just makes made me worst. And thats the main issue at hand: what do you do if you can’t express a mental illness to the people who should be able to help you the most? For some strange reason, things such as low-self esteem, anxiety, bipolar and of course depression but also so much more is a really difficult topic for ethnicities to address. There’s an unsolidified stigma attached to it that assumes that you are weak, or, lesser than the ordinary being who per say may not have these particular issues. And that’s mainly because we as a community have been stereotyped to be strong-minded, and fighters of anything physical and mental. Slavery and past traumatic experiences have taught us to rise from the ashes like a phoenix reborn and revitalise our hardships, make new our struggles, throw away the pain and wipe away the tears and move forward. This, however, can be so easily blurred and misconstrued with ignorance.

An eleven year old child will go to her mother and. cry and say that they get anxious infant of a crowd, or they don’t feel pretty enough to have friends or – point – blank – period – say ‘Mummy I’m depressed’. And rather than taking those statements seriously the mother looks back and says ‘what do you know about depression?’ Because what can an eleven year old, who is exposed to the harsh and cruel reality of this post modern world and all it’s dark flaws, know about depression.

They feel as though, especially living in a westernised society, that we have no reason to feel this way. However, our world is just going at such a fast pace these days to the point that kids aren’t kids anymore and the streets aren’t always a safe place to play. Pictures could mean ‘pictures‘ and have a wry, sardonic meaning about it. And the internet isn’t just a way to connect with your neighbour, but instead connect with the whole world! And so, exposes you to the corruption of the whole world too. But now this child who was so effortlessly dismissed has trapped themselves within themselves and became slaves to their own dark thoughts. This lack of education and willing ignorance has caused a once curable child to turn to harsh prospects of life just to get by. Our stereotypically ‘strong’ mind means we just become more angry and angry until we can’t take it any more and we don’t know what to do with ourselves. And just think we don’t know really know if our parents have suffered this too but have just never been able to express it because how they treat us, is how they were treated.

Growing up like this is hard.

I am lucky enough to have a prominent figure in my life that I can turn to when the thoughts try to envelope me again. But not everyone is as lucky as I am.

  • Just remember: That fake smile won’t last forever
  • Its okay to cry
  • This does not make you weak but gives you reason to grow stronger
  • There is always a way out
  • Things will get better
  • Its not your fault.

You don’t have to put on a facade until you are really and truly okay. You are lucky enough to live in a time where your parents aren’t your only resource. You can turn to other people or other means in order to rectify your problems. Communication wasn’t always my strong point but writing came to me like a second language. There are ways out. And you will get out. Just Don’t Bury Yourself.


  • Asha

    beautiful words, nice time reading this.

Post a Reply to Asha cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.