“It ain’t my problem once they don’t come around me; they mad; they not playing with a full deck of cards; they have a couple of screws loose”.
Do any of these statements sound familiar to you? I’m also guilty of making these insensitive statements– but life has a funny way of throwing things in your garden when you least expect it. I learned the hard way that “laugh and cry does live in the same house”. I have now found myself surrounded by friends and family members who either have been diagnosed with depression or they are in need of support to come to terms with their diagnosis.
My sister, Nessa, experiences depression due to bipolar disorder.
I am the oldest of four and I pride myself on looking out and taking care of the little ones. It was and still is the most devastating thing that I wasn’t able to see this or as I like to say it was staring me in the face masking itself as different things.
“Nessa was constantly misdiagnosed from being lazy, being possessed”
Nessa was constantly misdiagnosed from being lazy, being possessed, having thyroid problems, being anorexic and having sickle cell anemia before a psychiatrist officially diagnosed her with bipolar disorder. Another angel among women, Mrs. Brown, was instrumental in helping her cope with the daily triggers that caused her highs and lows.
“What is it? How do you get that? Is it genetic? Can I get it?”
All of these questions we as a family had to get answered and quickly.
How do we support her?
We as a family have supported her achievements along the way with great joy and happiness. She was diagnosed at 19 and now she is 38. She has her high and low days and we are there to comfort and support her by being her cheerleading squad when stressful situations arise, cooking gourmet meals for the family, going to the movies and partying hard just to name a few.
In addition, one of the ways that we help her to understand that she is not alone is by telling her there are many famous people that have depression for example Kanye West, Bebe Rexha, Halsey, Demi Lovato, Catherine Zeta Jones, Mariah Carey , Mel Gibson and Ted Turner just to name a few. They all continue to struggle but have the support mechanisms in place from medication, therapy, exercise, music and their families to keep them in balance.
One of the most recent pieces of art on screen that recently moved me to tears was the limited series called Modern Love, episode three titled, “ Take me as I am Whoever I am”. Anne Hathaway’s performance as a woman living with bipolar disorder will take your breath away.
Our society needs to change
We as a society can no longer continue to ignore or pretend not to care and that we don’t see. This is a cultural thing in this country and we must start a movement no matter how small to let the authorities know that they must wake up and pay attention to the citizens that are suffering in silence as well as aloud.
“We as a society can no longer continue to ignore or pretend not to care and that we don’t see.”
We need more support systems and support groups in every district in this country, wellness areas for employees that operate in high stress jobs and insurance companies need to fully cover persons with depression. There is an epidemic in the world today. People are not coping well and we need to help and protect our fellow man by making sure that all the resources are available to help them be more productive members of society.
My sister’s journey
Like a phoenix, my sister rose from the ashes and she still continues to rise every day to go to work and pay her bills. The only thing that eludes her still is true friendship and companionship; people just don’t understand and are afraid and, so, they keep her at arm’s length.
My mother kept us together; we prayed and we educated ourselves to become better informed. We check in with each other more and see if we are all okay.
“We we prayed and we educated ourselves to become better informed.”
What can you do?
This is my challenge to you all reading this: ask a simple question, “ Are you okay?” and “ What can I do to help?”
You and your family need to draw closer to God. Only then, you will come to a place of acceptance. You must go through the cycle of grief. Then what? Don’t judge.
Read and educate yourselves as we did on how to help with the highs and lows as well as the medication so if it needs to be adjusted, the professionals can do so. Look for changes in mood and ask questions.
“Don’t judge. Read and educate yourselves as we did on how to help.”
Just be there to support your loved ones. Even though it may seem difficult at times, God gives his people strength. For all the families that are still coming to terms with a member being diagnosed, it gets easier I promise you that. As Chris Tambu Herbert said: “ The journey now start and do not give up”.
Written by Charlene C.A Cudjoe
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