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Still standing or standing still?

It has been over a year since I’ve written a new blog post and I must say so much can happen in a day let alone a year. Whew what a ride! However, I am back at least for right now because it has been on my heart to write about a topic that seems to be pervasive at the moment and I don’t know if it’s fall out from the many challenges we have experienced over the past few years or that life is just truly life-ing for the masses at this time. Have you been feeling this overwhelming angst or sadness? Lack of motivation or interest in things? Hopelessness? Guilt or worthlessness? Fatigue and trouble focusing? Yet, despite all of those things you’ve still been getting things done; completing work tasks, being super-mom or super-dad, or being the strong friend all the while internally you’ve felt disconnected. This my friend could be a sign of High Functioning Depression. Typically depression looks like isolating, not getting out of bed or doing things that you usually do, etc. and can be seen by others. The thing about High Functioning Depression is that it’s something other people don’t usually pick up on, unless you verbalize your struggle. You know we like to keep up appearances despite how exhausting it is because it’s easier than facing the truth that we don’t have it all together.

Now I may be a therapist, but this is not a diagnosis. In fact, High Functioning Depression is not even a recognized diagnosis in the DSM (for those of you that don’t know the DSM is basically a big book that mental health professionals use to help identify struggles a person may be experiencing, levels of struggle, and assists us with determining the best way to support that individual). It is however, a term used to acknowledge a struggle that a lot of us may have or may be currently experiencing. This society, our families, our friends, and ourselves can place these expectations on us to “always be on point”, “suck it up”, “be strong”, “don’t let them see you sweat”, especially if you’re a black woman or man. The pressure is even more intense. We’ve come to use language like “I don’t look like what I’ve been through” or “I may have been through a lot, but I’m still standing” and yes to a certain extent this is a great thing. To be able to say I’ve experienced some challenges yet they didn’t break me is amazing. At the same time, this mindset can also contribute to the superwoman or superman syndrome that has our community in a chokehold. Being superwoman/man means conquering challenges effortlessly and not showing signs of weakness. The challenge with this is that it creates a reality that is not rooted in truth and promotes silent suffering. We feel ashamed, guilty, or not enough when we feel like we aren’t living up to the expectation of being SUPER. The reality is even Superman had his kryptonite. As human beings we all have the ability to become tired, overwhelmed, overworked, unsure, confused, or unable. We may be showing up to others as “expected”, but internally we are screaming for help; we are not growing, we are not thriving, we are not present, we are JUST here.

Shifting from that still standing or just making it way of being requires radical honesty and intentional action and there’s nothing intentional about coasting on the sea of depression. In order to see things be different we MUST take some action. The first order of business is to acknowledge that we are not okay and we in fact, do not have it all together. That doesn’t make us weak; it makes us human. Once we are able to be radically honest with ourselves then we are able to trigger the next call to action—SEEK SUPPORT. Life is not something that we can get through alone and then add the possibility of depression and it’s practically impossible to navigate solo. It’s important that we identify supports or what I like to refer to as—our tribe. These are the people that can be an extra leg to lean on and can help take off some of the burden that we are so used to carrying. Don’t be afraid to get the level of support that’s necessary for your wellbeing. Sometimes that support may include your partner, a friend, a family member, a pastor. Other times it may require a higher level of support and include a therapist and/or psychiatrist; these individuals are trained to equip you with tools to make surviving this thing called life a little bit easier.

Remember, small steps move us forward, but no steps will keep us where we are. We can’t get caught still standing or simply surviving for too long and we definitely don’t want to get trapped standing still. I encourage you today to give yourself grace because no one has the key to life and we are all here just trying to figure it out, so if you made it through today CONGRATULATIONS to you. Acknowledge where you are and know that you are not alone in this space; many people are silently struggling...AND most importantly take action because your life depends on the movement that you make today.

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