We’ve really struggled to find Black, Hispanic, and Asian subjects for our DVD project, Christians get depressed too. I’ve talked to a couple of African American friends and I’m beginning to understand why. Knowing that Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile has a background in Psychology, I reached out to ask for his views, and he’s agreed to be interviewed for the DVD on this subject. I’m so looking forward to hearing his insights and hoping that his interview will help promote understanding and compassion towards many secret sufferers in the African American community.

In God’s providence, just yesterday I came across an article in my pre-interview preparation called Black with postpartum depression: My therapist had never treated a black woman. Lebo, a black South African mother movingly describes her battle with Postpartum depression and Postpartum OCD. And a great part of the battle for her was the lack of understanding and help from her own community.

I tried looking for more black women who had gone through this. I found three on Twitter. Three … that’s it.  I talked to anyone who cared to listen, and many made me feel insecure, like I was the only black woman to ever go through this.  I was told to smile, pray more, suck it up and enjoy my baby.  Why are you on meds? Don’t you know you’ll be dependant for life?  My very close cousin was scared of me, she told me I was going crazy.  See I love how the black community is the same all over the world … like Addye said:

  1. We don’t do therapy, at all.
  2. Any mental illness means you are losing your marbles, hence we keep it a secret.
  3. Women are meant to be hard as a rock; we are somehow supernatural beings.
  4. If anything goes wrong in your life, it’s because God is punishing you for something and you are just not worthy of Him.

I made a choice to reach out. I owed it to myself to get better, to my kids, to my family.  The white community in South Africa welcomed me with open arms. They all knew someone who’d gone through postpartum depression.  My therapist had never ever treated a black woman.  Our support group had, well, no women of colour.  But I made it my mission to find more of us, and what better way to do that than sharing my experiences. I wrote to all baby magazines, and started a blog. And one day, when I least expected it, my pastor at church called me to the side and told me that she went through PPD.  Two of my distant friends had gone through it, but kept it a secret.  I also received two emails from strangers who had gone through this.

You can read the rest here (warning: couple of misuses of “Hell”), and Too blessed to be stressed is another heart-rending testimony in the Warrior Moms of Color series. I’d thoroughly recommend this Black folk don’t go to therapy video as well:

Have you got any insights you can offer on this subject? Anyone else I should be speaking to? We’d really like to maximize the helpfulness of this film to as many different groups and communities as possible.

  • Sonia

    When I look back on the groups and therapy sessions that I have been part of I see this is true. Most of the black people participating were struggling with addictions of some sort not depression or bipolar disorder. Thank you for pointing this out, Dr. Murray!