I’ve tried and tried. Been to
retreats; done it at church; practiced it walking, sitting, chanting, silent.
I’ve made a place to “sit” at home. But meditation does not come easy for me.
I believe mindfulness
meditation can have benefits. And so do other folks: According to arecent
post in the New York Times’ “Well” blog, “researchers report that
those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable
changes in gray-matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory,
sense of self, empathy and stress.
I know blue.
Thick, smudged blue, like ink oozing from the spine of a broken pen. Like a vat of indigo, tipped, sloshing,
splashing, running in fast rivulets then sighing into dry earth. Like the atmosphere at midnight,
swelling to squeeze out even the tiniest prick of light from the stars. Blue I know.
My grief is gray.
All the color, even blue, has drained away. I feel like a faded photo in which my
features are unclear, my face in shadow, hardly identifiable.
She comes to your office for a mint.
She selects a piece of candy from the ceramic bowl on your desk and begins to chat a little. She lingers. Chatting.
You’re trying to work—catch up on the pile of paperwork or a memo or some inane administrative task. You keep typing, hoping to send the message that you're busy. Really. Quite busy.
But there’s something in her expression—some tone on the underside of her chatter. You stop your busy-ness for a moment and realize she’s here because something’s wrong and she doesn’t know where else to turn.
I just read areportthat says that black fathers are 50 percent more
likely to be depressed than other men. I shouldn't be surprised, but I am.
Historically (if wrongly), we’ve considered depression a
white-woman affliction. Black women were too busy to be depressed; there was
certainly no time for a brother to be laid low. Yes, we all got the blues from time to time, but we’d treat
that with a rousing church service or a strong drink (or both) and keep on moving.
These days, depression research seems to focus so much more on
In the summer of ’09, when the call came from the Carter
Center telling me I’d gotten a Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health
Journalism, I gasped—thrilled, honored.This
will be a sweet little addition to the resume.Little did I know how deeply
I would be affected by the experience of spending a year looking at the
complexities of mental health and mental illness—especially among women and in
communities of color.
What has really moved me is the people who quietly whisper
out from behind their facades of “everything’s just fine” and admit to depression—indigo
deep, bruise blue.