‘Being Mary Jane’ Explores the Ugly Truth: Depression in Black Women

I must be honest, I don’t watch too many television shows consistently enough to follow the storylines, but occasionally I check in on “Being Mary Jane”. I keep saying to myself, “this could be a great show to address identity issues and self-esteem”, but I never got the chance to really get hooked or follow.  However, this week I’ve seen a number of posts on how great the last episode was in handling a discussion about Black women with depression and completing suicide.

I must say that after watching the episode, I was extremely impressed and moved to tears with the honesty of pain, depression, secrets that can lead to more pain and in some cases, take lives. The thought that Black women, as well as others, suffer in silence is outrageous. To be responsible with holding the weight of a traumatic history, which may have included sexual or physical abuse, witnessing domestic violence and other identity shaping experiences inside is just too high of an expectation. Specifically in the Black community, we attach so much shame, guilt or embarrassment to sharing or exposing are family secrets that we rarely seek the appropriate help. Instead, we find solace in creating the prefect picture on the outside for others to see; while we privately abuse our bodies or self-sabotage with overeating, drinking or drugging, unhealthy sexual relationships and other painful existences.

BMJ Season 3 Episode 3 (Photo: BET)
BMJ Season 3 Episode 3 (Photo: BET)

I hope and pray this discussion doesn’t end with just a few tweets, posts and articles, because we have lost enough beautiful people to the completion of suicide.  I am here to tell you, there is help. I will continue to spend my life work educating and screaming to the top of my lungs that depression is killing us.

We must recognize the roof is on fire and there is water…

I mentioned this before in my blog on “Depression in the Black Community”, the best way to do this is to make it clear to those living with depression that they are not to blame and are not alone. If you or a friend needs support, new coping skills or just a place to tell your story safely; there is help.

Here are a few concrete ways to help get the appropriate support:

If you have insurance, look on the back of your insurance card for your behavioral health services, to find a therapist or means to get support.

If you are without insurance, please contact your local mental health community program and ask for sliding scale plan or free support groups.

To help contribute to our options; if you are in the South Jersey or Philadelphia area, starting in February I will be running a monthly group for Black women dealing with the pressures of life.

If you are thinking of taking your life or overwhelmed to the point you feel low of options know that you there is help, please call 1-800-273-8255.

“When you dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255), you are calling the crisis center in the Lifeline network closest to your location. After you call, you will hear a message saying you have reached the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You will hear hold music while your call is being routed. You will be helped by a skilled, trained crisis worker who will listen to your problems and will tell you about mental health services in your area. Your call is confidential and free.”

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