6. Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting

by Terrie M. Williams

started 1/6/08 finished 1/13/08

Terrie M. Williams’ story has been an inspiration to many people both professionally and personally. While working as a social worker at a hospital, she met Miles Davis, who was a patient there. Ready for a career change she started doing his public relations. She added other clients including Eddie Murphy and soon The Terrie Williams Agency was very successful. She wrote a book, The Personal Touch: What You Really Need to Succeed in Today’s Fast-Paced Business World, that I used quite a lot when I was managing a small business. But what a lot of people didn’t know was that she was also suffering from a depression that often immobilized her. A few years ago Williams took a brave step and at one of her many speaking engagements, instead of talking about her business success to chose to come clean about her depression. The feedback she received prompted her to write a book on the role of depression in the African-American community.
In addition to telling her story, Williams has testimonials from others who have experience with depression: Beverly Johnson talks about being a supermodel and having to put on a brave “face”, Blair Underwood discusses how his family helped his mother through her depression, and “Mama” DeBarge, the matriarch of the singing DeBarge clan shares how being in an abusive marriage affected her mental health. All sorts of remedies are explored, including therapy and medication. One of my favorite chapters is titled Don’t Snap Out of It: Healing in Your Own Time. “Snap out of it”, is one of the worst things that you can say to a clinically depressed person.
Why do African-Americans need their own special book on depression? Well, America as a whole is one of the few countries that seems to require its citizens to be happy all the time and be strong enough to deal with anything. This helps to perpetuate the “Strong Black Woman” and “Strong Black Man” stereotypes that make it a taboo to seek help for ourselves. “My ancestors survived slavery, so I can get through feeling a little down”. Black Pain goes far to dispel those myths and stereotypes and will help a lot of people get on the road to healing.
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3 thoughts on “6. Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting

  1. That sounds good and very important. May have to check this out. I believe black people need their own book on depression or mental illness in general if not it would only be seen as a white persons problem. (Black people can’t or don’t get depressed.) Books like this can help erase the stigma.

  2. This is so important and I think about this alot because I think there have been times in my life where I have been depressed and I wouldn’t admit it and got told by friends/family members that I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself because everybody has it bad. I sure hope the cultural attitudes about this continue to shift.

  3. Tonja says:

    Thanks for sharing. I think I will purchase a couple of these for family members. We have been talking about this in our family and how some members really need to seek assistance because it is paralyzing them. One of my family members recently acknowledged he is taking anti-dep. medicine and has not talked about it because of the “taboo”, especially among Black men. He is going to share how medicine and counseling has helped him move on and out of the rut for other members…

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