I can't eat and I can't sleep. I'm not doing well in terms of being a functional human, you know?”
―Ned Vizzini, It's Kind of a Funny Story
Some kinds of feelings cannot be expressed, you feel close and at the same time distant from everything. There are times when you don’t know where your life is headed. Every morning looks the same. An emptiness clouds your being. Something is wrong but you cannot just place your hands on it. Yesterday you had plans, you had goals you thought you had direction, but then the direction suddenly looks like it’s moving in a clockwise pattern, round and round, every day the same thing. Nothing gives you joy anymore, you are not looking forward to anything. Every single thing that excited you now seems like a blasé.
You wait and wait for redemption because you don’t understand anymore. And sometimes, you can’t put your palms on the problem but you feel it down to your being that you’re gradually slipping into a form of darkness, a well of dejection with no hope of a saving ladder to climb back up to the light.
More pathetically, you have nobody to talk to, because they all think you are living the life and having the best time. They think you are lucky and have everything at your beck and call. You can’t say anything because you’ve tried and gotten laughed at in ways that suggest, ‘who is she trying to compare herself to, your life is perfect’.
Never understood, you curl back to that hollow space and let the echoes of emptiness be your only company. A constant reminder rings aloud at different intervals inside your head, reminding you of how your time is passing by and how you have nothing to show for yourself.
You stand there, in a birth-given position to set examples and lead the way, lines and columns of expectations. People look up to you, and you are under the pressure to stay in character and keep up a winning aura all the time. You dare not be less than expected! You dare not be relentless, because there is no room for that, they tell you that to whom much is given, much is expected. True talk no doubt, but the truth remains that not everybody is equipped to be in perfect synch with that mindset. And that is not a flaw, it’s simply being human and having strengths and weaknesses that sometimes is all mixed in a large bowl so deep that you need a longer ladle to reach the bottom and stir - in an attempt to rouse up what was long lost at the bottom, but then your ladle is broken.
Looking left and right, it seems like everybody has got it figured out but you. What potion are they taking? You know you need a dose or two that could help you generate that path or sense of gratification they have on. Giving yourself a reality check, you try to buckle up - let me try this method, let me read this book, let me take this class. The only result you get is just a sense of temporary distraction because soon after, the black mass starts gathering again and you are right back from where you started. On and on, this vicious circle embrace you, coats you, canoodle you, keep you company, and gradually mould a ball of deadness in your existence.
“Hey dear, are you ok?”
“Yea, I’m great”
“Alright was just checking up. Take care of yourself.”
“And you too dear.”
Of course, you are, you are indeed doing great. That is what they expect to hear, and that is the reply they will keep getting from you. You can’t bother them with your mess. They may not even understand, therefore you are going to fix yourself by yourself. You are going to take care of yourself because at least they always remind you to do that.
You dare not call it depression, you can not be depressed, such 'luxury' is only for white people. You've been told that the African man cannot know depression, it's not just in our DNA. The melanin has saved you from such frivolous spectacle, so you go enjoy a life full of lasting joy.
"The oyibo man has no problems and that is why he has the time to be depressed."
"If they have bad roads and poor electricity they would focus that energy on how to bridge that gap in surviving everyday." So you can't be depressed as a black person, especially living in Africa. You're simply not permitted that indulgence!
Therefore, for now, we are curled up with our purple cat and non-fat yoghurt, we'll keep smiling while flipping the pages of that new book. Besides they know us as ‘the happy black girl’, it’s already our trademark. So why disappoint them?