Depression as a Black Woman Is Its Own Misery

Samantha Irby writes how it's seen almost as a white privilege
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2015 11:05 AM CST
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(Newser) – Samantha Irby has written a first-person account of her depression at Cosmopolitan, but her essay tackles it from a unique perspective—what it's like to battle the disease as an African-American woman. The problem is summed up in the headline: "Black Girls Don't Get to Be Depressed." As a kid, she was classified as "moody" or "angry," or as someone with an "attitude problem," but she was never diagnosed with depression because "that's something that happened to white people on television." In her world, it didn't exist. Even after a suicide attempt in 1993, she was told merely, "LOL, TOUGHEN UP," and went back to school as usual on the following Monday.

Irby finally sought medical help as an adult after a panic attack so severe she thought she was dying of a heart attack. She ended up in the hospital and felt nothing but humiliation and weakness while talking to a young doctor. "I was sure I was letting Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman down by talking about my silly little feelings." And it's not just her: "If you're African-American and female, not only are you expected to be resilient enough to just take the hits and keep going, but if you can't, you're a black bitch with an attitude." (Click for Irby's full column, which manages to be wickedly funny as well as poignant.)

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