As a mental health expert I have worked with many women who present well on the surface, but who are secretly depressed inside. Women of color are half as likely to seek treatment for their depression, and are still held to higher expectations in their professional and personal lives.
Depression grows in isolation, so keeping it a secret can be harmful. It will eventually seep through the cracks and lead to emotional and physical burnout. So instead of pretending that it’s not there, it may be helpful to ask a different question: How can I manage my depression in a loving way, while continuing to take care of business and pursue my dreams? We asked five women to share their personal tips and suggestions:
1. I start with the most difficult task in the day. If I get even one or two top priority things done, I know I’ll feel much better. Having a reward system helps too. I get excited for rewards so I link difficult tasks (things I especially hate doing) to something fun on the other side. “Sarah”
2. I love my job and adore my kids, but if I don’t break away and squeeze in a manicure and some girl time, things start to spin out of control. I schedule at least 2 hours of self-care time a week, which I spend getting a massage or reading at a coffee shop. This doesn’t have to be expensive, just anything that helps you unplug. “Tina”
3. I start my day with a scripture. I used to go to straight to my phone, but looking at Instagram and the news put me in a weird mood. Try to have an inspirational book to read first thing in the morning or before bed. It helps to direct your attention to more positive things throughout the day. It also helps to minimize social comparison, which can make you even more depressed. “Traci”
4. Even if I don’t want to, I schedule lunch dates with friends. If we can’t meet in person, we may jump on a call, I know that if I stop talking to people, I’m in trouble. I try to stay ahead of this by keeping things on the calendar. “Keisha”
5. Know your triggers. Sometimes I get so busy that I’m not always aware of