Black Men & Depression: “I Refuse To Let Anyone Else Suffer In Silence”

KT Nelson

My childhood was carefree like most. Depression and anxiety was yet unknown to my young soul. It would start to creep in when I lost my mother. No longer being able to talk to her made me feel as though there was this crippling weight on my chest. My father followed shortly after, and that weight grew heavier. I could not understand how the world could keep turning without them, but I tried my best to figure it out on my own.

In my community, talking about your feelings is not allowed. Young African-American boys are considered weak if they share these types of problems or seek help. There is no discussion, no allowance for tears or visible distress. This made me feel more alone and even more scared.

I would spend days curled up on the couch or in disheveled bed sheets crying, feeling numb in my darkness. I cried for my losses, but I also cried because I didn’t know how to deal with the sadness and heartbreak. The shadows of doubt and fear took over me, and I realized that I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. I isolated myself from my friends, feeling too ashamed to tell them I was suffering.

On a dark day, while contemplating suicide, coldness came over me and I couldn’t feel the left side of my body. Tingles spread throughout my side, so I rushed myself to the hospital.  It was assumed I was having a stroke, but the doctor eventually discovered that it was extreme anxiety and depression that was manifesting itself physically in my deprived body.