To be female, depressed and black.

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Growing up in a black home means being strong. We were tough people and tough people do not show weakness. You can’t talk about feelings. They say: “Pray to God, He answers all”.

Strong black women are iconic. Michelle Obama, Shonda Rhimes, Simone Biles are renowned for their determination and perseverance. There are many positives about being a young black woman today but a lot of negatives too. The strong black woman keeps on going even if placing her mental health at risk.

Every misfortune in life comes with this same answer, lean on God and find solace in him. I believed, and did as I was told because that is all I ever knew. I started to recognise my depression after prayer, I would still have these feelings of deep sadness and anxiety that I could not explain, but it was better to pray, to not worry my parents with such negative thoughts.

The panic attacks and anxiety occurred whenever I stepped out of my comfort zone. God was a cop out- a coping mechanism. For me, faith no longer meant results. My negative thoughts were getting worse and worse and my faith couldn’t help.

They teach you how to appease everyone but yourself. This is the plight for most black women today. Mere shadows of the women they wish to be because their destinies have been chosen for them way before they were born. There is a higher standard for strong black women. I can’t discuss my mental health openly because it isn’t a space safe enough to do so.

Girls at school could go to therapy, they weren’t told that they couldn’t. I was, I was jealous of the girls who had a healthy relationship with their parents. My parents had one version of me, someone happy all of the time and focused on school. With my friends, I am vulnerable, I can have depression with them. Here is how to help a black woman with depression, from one.

Do not leave everything to prayer.

This is not a useful tactic for everyone especially black girls who are not religious. If a black girl trusts you enough to confide in you about her depression, it is better to offer more practical steps or ask them to seek professional help.

Do not judge depression.

We have all had moments where we do not know how to be empathetic. Instead of being judgemental, explain to your friend why you cannot advise them. Let them know you are there for them and support them while they seek help with someone better qualified.

Do not hold them to higher standards than their white counterparts.

Everyone has feelings and everyone, regardless of the colour of their skin or their background, is susceptible to feeling depressed. There is not one group of people immune from depression. Mental health is more serious than you think.

Don’t create an unsafe space.

It is easy to be scared when the people we love the most let us in on the darkest parts of them. However, we should be weary of shunning them or pushing them away because of our fear thereby creating an unsafe space for them that they feel they can no longer be honest with us.

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