Dear Black Woman: You Do Not Have to Be Strong All the Time

By Manuela Domingos

The other day, a friend of mine posted an article to her newsfeed titled, “The New Face of Depression: The Strong Black Woman.” Before even clicking on the link, I had gathered the article’s content in one sweep of the eye. Personally, this article hit close to home as I am a woman of color. I thought it would only make sense that I responded to it as some of its content directly spoke to me.

Undeniably, for the longest, there has been a stigma with mental illness and women of color. Perhaps this stigma is much more prevalent in the black community itself than outside of it. This unspoken regurgitating notion that black women are supposed to be the archetype of the strong woman; the undefeated superhuman that bounces right back on her feet from misfortune, “holds her own,” and is “undisturbed.” There is nothing more sexy than a confident black woman, some say, one that holds her head up high and carries herself with grace. Nothing seemingly bothers her soul.

Unfortunately, as we all know, depression holds no discrimination to age, gender, or race. The only difference is that if you’re a woman of color struggling with depression, you’re more likely to hear the words “just pray about it” instead of other alternatives.

My response to this notion, regardless of race, is that you’re free.

The beauty of being human is that you hold strength to power through, and when it’s time to recharge, at times we may feel powerless, but that’s completely okay.

As a woman, you owe no explanation for your sadness to anyone else at whatever moment in time you are experiencing your emotions. You are allowed to feel weak. Feeling these emotions do not “reaffirm” your femininity. Those two things don’t hold a correlation. It only means you are human.

It’s okay to ask for help when you feel helpless. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re “giving in.” It simply means you care about your state of well-being and want to get better. We want you to get better.

It’s time we stop putting a stigma on depression, especially to the people it affects. I say feel every bit and piece of that dark wave that captures your soul, then release it. You have the power to let it go, acknowledging it is the first step in getting there.