Release the Chains

By: Kiersten Jones

Throughout this whole time, I have been struggling. I have been struggling to find the words to cultivate a magnificent article that would bring so many people to their knees because of how good it sounded, but throughout the pain that I endured this semester, the only thing that comes to my mind right now is honesty. My pure and only job is to be honest and to shed light on what is right, so that is what I am going to do.

College is hard, and I don’t mean hard as in school work (even though that’s just as dominating), but I mean hard as in emotionally. So many times we college students stress ourselves out over grades, work, friendships, and relationships, etc. Attending college as a young, black woman at a non-HBCU is even harder.

It’s been so hard finding someone who understood what I was going through. This semester, I wondered who was going to take care of me when I was down. The weight of the universe was on my shoulders. I had school, I had work, and I had major financial obligations. I had to study, pray, eat, and on top of that, I definitely had to have a social life.

Yes, college burns you out, and that is an ABSOLUTE given! I would be lying if I said that I have not procrastinated or stayed out until the wee morning when I knew I had to study. That’s not my point.

My point was that I was at my lowest level that I had ever been in my life. My appetite shriveled, my motivation was nonexistent, and being happy was wrapped in a box that lived in the magical land of Oz. I turned to the only one I knew: God. I prayed, I read, I cried, and I begged, and I couldn’t figure out why it felt like I wasn’t being heard.

Who would listen to me? Who was going to accept the fact that life had gotten me so down that it was physically hard to get out of bed in the mornings? Who was going to listen to me when I said that I was depressed, and realize that praying wouldn’t just make it go away? Being black and being sad is not allowed to occur concurrently, and as a young woman of color, I’ve noticed that we are expected to NOT succumb to the pressures of life that other races are allowed.

We are expected to quench fiery, erupting volcanoes with water and soar through hurricanes without complaints. Why did it feel like every time I complained that I was alone in the struggle? What saddens me is that depression is seen as something that’s an easy fix.

Out of the 20 million Americans depression affects, African Americans are the highest percent. I am not here to preach or be a doctor, but I believe it is time to break the stigma. As much as I love me some Jesus, prayer is not a magic pill. I believe it helps, but God put other people on the planet to help us.

How would you feel if it were just you in this world, with the limited knowledge you have? You’d be scared out of your mind, but the good thing is that there are resources available. If we can release the stigma associated with depression and more serious aspects of mental illness, then maybe we would be more open to admitting that it’s not all okay.

What I have learned throughout this semester is that God does hear, and He does indeed speak, whether your ears are open or not. It’s okay to be sad, to feel overwhelmed, but it’s even better to get out there and talk about it! It’s okay to admit it and look for ways to eliminate the mental toxins clouding your passion for life. God led me to find help, and I no longer feel bad for feeling drained, and to all the black girls reading this, neither should you. I am asking you, begging you even, to release the chains you have locked on yourself, to let your struggle be known, and to just be free.

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