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. It’s not just that folks find courage to talk about it. It’s how many—how many—of us there are. You’d never know. We hide our secret perfectly. But scratch the surface…. No. You need not even apply that slight violence…. Just touch. The bruise will bloom. That is the impetus to write about it and talk about it—letting people know they aren’t alone.
And when a powerhouse like Terrie Williams talks—openly and everywhere—about fighting depression. When Ntozake Shange speaks insouciantly of trying—twice—to commit suicide, and not getting “the hang of it.” When brilliant psychiatrist Carl Bell reminds us that “we are stronger than we are weak.” Well, that’s what you write about and talk about—letting people know that healing is possible.
This is the place for that conversation. Thank you for being here to have it. We've got to let people know.