This week’s Being Mary Jane raised a very important topic. It’s one they have brought up before in Season 1, when Mary Jane’s friend, played by Ludacris, commits suicide after he’s outed for forging sections of his award winning book.
Forward to Season 2 when a major character chooses to end it rather than deal with shame, confusion, and regret.
I won’t spoil the episode for you, and won’t waste the time blasting the writers of the show for choosing such an easy way to grab attention for the show instead of working on redeeming said character but I will say that during the Ep, Mary Jane and her friends discuss how their whole lives they’ve been told that black people do not get depressed, that we as a race are strong, fighters and stand through whatever woes befall us. According to them, People of African descent do not ever commit suicide.
While they are right in that that is the accusation leveled at us, I posit that it is false. The black man is no different from the Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian… We all stem from the same mother/father of life and share characteristics.
It surprises me that the writers of the show, and thus the characters, for all their reading do not know of pre-colonial African tribeswomen who locked themselves in barns and set themselves on fire when they learned their men had lost the battle and enemy raiders were on their way to rape and pillage? Did they not read about these women who chose suicide rather than permit their bodies to be ravaged? I’m attempting to locate my notes from Uni, where I discovered this info but I do recall that Dr Esi Sutherland Addy mentioned this in a class I took at the African Studies Department also.
And for goodness sakes have they not read Things Fall Apart, and how Okwonkwo hanged himself rather than face his shame?
Yes I know my examples are few but for an Africa whose History is barely written/known, we cannot presume that these things did not happen in the past, or that it’s impossible in our present for us to be riddled with pain, so much so that we cannot bear to live on this earth.
Read on the deaths of Don Cornelius of Soul Train Fame, as well as of Leanita McClain.
And damn, y’all, Sam Sarpong jumped to his death following 7 hours of chit chat with local law enforcement and family.
We can’t continue to hide under a rock and say black people are strong and don’t get depressed, or don’t ever commit suicide. We as a people deal with so much and I really feel our religion helps a lot in keeping us in check. We force ourselves out of depression most times, especially when we have support around us but honestly (and from personal experience) it’s not always easy to hide from it all. Anxiety and depression, be they as a result from PTSD, or the lows of bipolar disorder, or general anxiety disorder, etc are very real. They are not just episodes of people being sad. They are not emotions to simply be shelved away and ignored. They are very real, very disturbing thought patterns that cannot seem to go away.
A discussion I had with someone a few weeks ago had him, a medic, telling me that some people just want attention and just want to be miserable. But think about it, if all a person has ever known is misery, if all they have known is negativity and self loathing, how do you think they will be able to appreciate happiness? They are comfortable in it, it is what they know. Attention seeking behaviour is also a mental issue by the way.
Here’s a video I found on Buzzfeed which should give you a hint of what people deal with.
Rather than belittling Mental Illness and making people who suffer, yes I said suffer, from depression, why don’t we acknowledge that it exists and work towards helping each other stand when the weight of the world is simply too much for a single shoulder to bear? The world is already doing everything to destroy black lives, and we are already doing well by killing each other off…should we really be allowing suicide to cull our numbers further?
Everyone’s pain is relative. Don’t think your situation is worse than someone else’s. If someone is sharing their issues, don’t belittle them as attention seeking behavior and walk away. Different people have different thresholds of pain and you never know how close someone may be to harming themself because they can’t see the way out. Help them see a way out. Share their pain and give them a bit of your joy. This advice is for both people suffering from depression and those who have to listen to them. How many times have I heard a depressed person tell me I am lucky because I don’t have any problems? I tell them things are not always as they seem and just because I put a bright face forward does not mean I do not have my own issues with anxiety.
For people suffering from depression, I beg you to find help. I know paranoia is waaaaay high during episodes and you question everyone’s motives but put that aside. Get the help you need, unless it’s from the devil. If someone is willing to help, let them. Just do whatever it takes to stay alive because trust me, the world is not going to be magically better without you in it and the pain and loss your friends and family will suffer if you should succumb to depression and suicide will be unimaginable. Don’t make them suffer as you are. This is not a situation in which misery should love company.
Be strong, for yourself first and surround yourself with strong people who will hold you up when you are weak.
And remember, God loves you and has a purpose for you. Your purpose is not to live a miserable life and die without impacting a single soul. Your purpose, no matter how trivial your life may seem, is to live, pray, love. You will be amazed to discover what you think of in yourself as useless is exactly what someone else needs to keep carrying on.
Peace prevail in your hearts and homes.
PS this debate on #blacklivesmatter still has me pissed. All lives matter. Black people are not the only race in history to be enslaved, abused and murdered in droves. How about we change the story from Black man assaulted to man assaulted? How about we treat people as humans, instead of constantly trying to isolate race and religion? By focusing on their being human (and I’m not saying ignore their race completely), but by focusing on their humanity and insisting on their rights as humans, I believe we will go way further in eliminating abuse. While we are yobbing about black lives matter, Hispanics are also rotting in jail. Asians are also facing discrimination and our Arab brothers and sisters are paying the penalty for a select few terrorists who choose to tag religion onto their exploits.