*****Heads up! This article includes exploring being depressed. If you or someone you love is in need of help with mental and emotional health issues, please reach out to a medical professional. Sending love your way.*****
For months I had been readying myself to share my heart’s passion project. I would launch it on February 1st because the Black Women at Home (BW@H) project is historic. I did it! I launched a community for Black women to start exploring home together.
It is common for me that a big moment that feels so good often triggers my depression. When I want to be vibrant, soaking in sunshine, and celebrating, bam! I often start to spiral under the heavy blanket of depression. It is so familiar and achingly cozy.
Where do Black women share stories of journeys at home cultivating themselves with beauty, joy, ritual, and rest? When I searched for books, films, and websites I found this place nowhere. So I created a place for Black women to explore, grow, and share together how to thrive at home.
So much of what I found on the internet about Black women when it comes to “home” was related to home ownership discrimination, health issues, and poverty. These systemic conditions that Black women fight are real. They are struggles among others that are confronted on most days of too many of our lives. Those struggles are also fought, for many of us, alongside efforts to seek refuge at home. We need it to protect ourselves from the harsh conditions of living within a society that created racialized capitalism through efforts to keep Black women working, broken and breeding.
Through BW@H, I want Black women to access, practice, and create tools for their well-being at home. And for real though, it can be really difficult to do. Thirty minutes ago before I sat down to write, I was weeping on the floor in my shower. Waking up each day hollow, empty, unable to take in the radiance of life and love is exhausting, terrifying, and frustrating. This is how my depression shows up. Every morning is a struggle. Slowly, I convinced myself to stand up, keep washing my body, and just breathe.
While I want to allow beauty, joy, ritual and rest to be centered in the BW@H experience, I know that they don’t exist in a vacuum outside of conditions where people are hurting. Too much of what we are shown in society about living at home is camera ready, centers the gaze of white womanhood, and hides the mess that pours out in daily life.
Well, at this very moment, while I am home trying to move through the treacherous depths of numbness, alienation, physical pain, and sadness I am experiencing, I am clinging to what the Divine and my Ancestors continue to show me is possible. Even if I can’t see it, surround myself with beauty. That means listening to piano music and the sounds of water from a fountain soothing me as I type.
Earlier this morning I had to work really hard to be present with my nine year old daughter. I just wanted to be left alone and she just wanted my company and attention. Eventually I was able to have her sit on my lap and read to her. A few minutes of joy in her delight and pleasure.
Monday is a day that I hold close. I protect this time and don’t give it out to others. Monday is my writing day. The day I focus on BW@H and how to nurture it. This repetitive space where I can just be with myself and what my heart longs for is a sacred ritual for me. I am hopeful that this writing is keeping me from a spiral.
By the grace of God and decades of having life disrupted by depression, I have learned to move really slowly. There is not much that I hurry to do and I never aim to be busy. Gratefully, I’ve designed a lifestyle that allows me to work flexibly with little external pressures on the use of my time. I have the spaciousness to be mindful, to do simple things to help ground me — like folding laundry — and rest into the healing I need.
The pillars of beauty, joy, ritual, and rest are holding me up right now. I don’t always remember they are there for me. Yesterday I prayed for my Ancestors to wrap their arms around me and hold me. Today, I am receiving it through this remembering and reflection on the pillars.
Honestly, it is difficult to not give in to wanting to whitewash BW@H too. I easily want to slip into thinking about home decor, scented baths, and loving family dinners as the cure to thriving at home. Yet, I am being guided to recognize that this is not the way. Rather, sometimes like today for me, it is the difficult practice of being with oneself honestly, carefully, and kindly that is the way to thriving at home.