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  • Writer's pictureSharRon Jamison

Navigating the Shadows: A Guide to Understanding and Managing Depression and Doubt



Navigating the Shadows: A Guide to Understanding and Managing Depression & Doubt by SharRon Jamison for SOULACY Magazine


I have often struggled with depression. Some years it was just a low-grade, couldn’t-get-my-groove-back type of feeling. And at other times, it was a debilitating feeling of dread and desperation. Despite the variability in intensity, both feelings significantly altered the quality of my life and robbed me of feelings of wholeness and well-being.


Of course, I explained my feelings away by convincing myself that my extreme sadness was due to work stress, or that it resulted from being a single mom, or it resulted from the daily onslaught of microaggressions that I endured at work. And we all know that any of those experiences alone can wreak havoc on your mental health.


But even though ALL of that was true, I was still reluctant to NAME what I suspected it really was — depression. Why? Church and culture had convinced me that being depressed was a sign of weakness and faithlessness. And so, when I shared my extreme feelings of gloom and doom, I was admonished to pray more. Hope more. Trust more. Take bubble baths. Take a break. Most people offered simple antidotes and cheap platitudes, hoping their shallow suggestions would help me feel better. But what I really needed was some prayer, a therapist, and a prescription for Prozac. Let the church say amen!

Since I was shunned and shamed about feeling “low” and for vibing at a low energetic level, I numbed my depression. Instead of admitting it and naming it, I worked harder, exercised more, ate more, prayed more, and nagged my son more. I did more of everything but accept the truth about my hope-depleting, energy-stealing, joy-sucking feeling, which I knew was depression.


Thank God, I finally accepted the truth about my depression and got the help I needed. And that’s why I now know that we MUST normalize talking about mental health, therapy, and trauma. We must be honest about the emotional, spiritual, mental, social, and physical impact that depression can have on our lives. We must also talk about the many ways that racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, poverty, health inequity, toxic productivity, religion, systemic oppression, white-washing, gaslighting, suffocating gender norms, and toxic individualism exacerbate depression and intensify depressive episodes. We must tell the truth about the external, historical, and cultural factors that undermine feelings of wholeness.

In addition to being honest about the impact of depression and mental illness, we must normalize getting support. And we must let people know that finding the RIGHT therapist, coach, or counselor could take time. Yes, finding a culturally sensitive, trauma-informed, and historically-aware mental health professional could take a few months and a few failed attempts to find the person or group that most resonates with you and your needs. So, please don’t stop going to therapy or seeking help because your first therapist minimizes or misunderstands you or your lived experience. Trust me, I had to sift through a few therapists with impressive credentials but didn’t know how to care for or about me in affirming, empowering ways.


Therapy is not a luxury. It is an essential gift that restores, renews, and recalibrates your life.

Here’s the truth: We live in a society where over 17 million people have experienced at least one major depressive episode in their lifetime. Because of COVID, civil unrest, past trauma, systemic oppressive, and other gut-wrenching losses, some people have experienced chronic depression for decades. And, some people even struggle every day to get out of bed. 


Because of its prevalence, we must make it safe to talk about mental health in the home, schools, jobs, and faith-based organizations. We must create safe, judgment-free zones where people feel safe, seen, and supported enough to share their burdens and discuss their symptoms. Why? It is dangerous to be silent about depression, and it is irresponsible to stigmatize people when they need care, community, and compassion.


In my book, Deciding To Soar 2: Unwrapping Your Purpose, I talk about my bouts with depression, and I will keep talking about it because it is important for people to know that depression can be treated and healing can be trusted. Never forget that your mental health matters because you matter. (Chapter 7)

What I know for sure is: Therapy saved my life. Racially sensitive and culturally informed therapy helped me understand how historical trauma and racial trauma stripped me of my power and trapped me in a world of self-loathing. And, talking with a trained, empathic professional helped me understand how I was consciously and unconsciously taught to hate myself and devalue people who looked like me. I now realize that most of what I learned in school and church was steeped in white supremacy, anti-blackness, and patriarchy, which polluted my relationship with God and with myself. 


My friend, therapy is not a luxury. It is an essential gift that restores, renews, and recalibrates your life. Therapy is a life-saving, life-enriching gift that helps you live an authentic, audacious life so you SOAR HIGHER than the prerogative paradigms, perspectives, and prescriptions that hold you down and how you back. 


Now, I can’t promise you that therapy will dissolve all of your problems or eliminate the physical manifestations of depression. But what I can promise is that therapy will lighten your load. It will help you see yourself through the lens of love and compassion. And most of all, it will remind you that you are worthy of care, concern, compassion, and kindness - something that’s easy to forget when depression robs you of your confidence, self-respect, and joy.


Journal Prompts: How am I really feeling? How often do I feel joy, rest, and peace? What thoughts are haunting me? What could I do if I had more energy, peace, and direction? What do I desire for my life? How is feeling tired tainting my outlook? What do I need to really talk about to feel better?


My friend, you can heal! You can feel better. You can experience peace and joy again. 


You can do it!


It’s my testimony too.


Blessings,


SharRon



 

TLDR: This article explores the complex nature of depression, dismantling cultural stigmas and highlighting the importance of seeking professional help. SharRon Jamison shares her personal journey and stresses the need for culturally informed therapy to address mental health effectively.



 

SharRon Jamison is a life strategist, author, minister, entrepreneur, and corporate leader who is committed to helping you BE who you were born to be, and not settle for what society has taught and told you to be.

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