Don’t suffer from your depression in silence | Nikki Webber Allen


What are you doing on this stage in front of all these people? (Laughter) Run! (Laughter) Run now. That’s the voice of my anxiety talking. Even when there’s absolutely
nothing wrong, I sometimes get
this overwhelming sense of doom, like danger is lurking
just around the corner. You see, a few years ago, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety and depression — two conditions that often go hand in hand. Now, there was a time
I wouldn’t have told anybody, especially not in front of a big audience. As a black woman, I’ve had to develop
extraordinary resilience to succeed. And like most people in my community, I had the misconception that depression
was a sign of weakness, a character flaw. But I wasn’t weak; I was a high achiever. I’d earned a Master’s degree
in Media Studies and had a string of high-profile jobs
in the film and television industries. I’d even won two Emmy Awards
for my hard work. Sure, I was totally spent, I lacked interest in things
I used to enjoy, barely ate, struggled with insomnia and felt isolated and depleted. But depressed? No, not me. It took weeks before I could admit it, but the doctor was right: I was depressed. Still, I didn’t tell anybody
about my diagnosis. I was too ashamed. I didn’t think I had the right
to be depressed. I had a privileged life with a loving family
and a successful career. And when I thought about
the unspeakable horrors that my ancestors
had been through in this country so that I could have it better, my shame grew even deeper. I was standing on their shoulders. How could I let them down? I would hold my head up, put a smile on my face and never tell a soul. On July 4, 2013, my world came crashing in on me. That was the day I got
a phone call from my mom telling me that my 22-year-old nephew,
Paul, had ended his life, after years of battling
depression and anxiety. There are no words that can describe
the devastation I felt. Paul and I were very close, but I had no idea he was in so much pain. Neither one of us had ever talked
to the other about our struggles. The shame and stigma kept us both silent. Now, my way of dealing with adversity
is to face it head on, so I spent the next two years
researching depression and anxiety, and what I found was mind-blowing. The World Health Organization reports that depression is the leading cause
of sickness and disability in the world. While the exact cause
of depression isn’t clear, research suggests
that most mental disorders develop, at least in part, because of a chemical
imbalance in the brain, and/or an underlying
genetic predisposition. So you can’t just shake it off. For black Americans, stressors like racism
and socioeconomic disparities put them at a 20 percent greater risk
of developing a mental disorder, yet they seek mental health services at about half the rate of white Americans. One reason is the stigma, with 63 percent of black Americans
mistaking depression for a weakness. Sadly, the suicide rate
among black children has doubled in the past 20 years. Now, here’s the good news: seventy percent of people
struggling with depression will improve with therapy, treatment and medication. Armed with this information, I made a decision: I wasn’t going to be silent anymore. With my family’s blessing, I would share our story in hopes of sparking
a national conversation. A friend, Kelly Pierre-Louis, said, “Being strong is killing us.” She’s right. We have got to retire
those tired, old narratives of the strong black woman and the super-masculine black man, who, no matter how many times
they get knocked down, just shake it off and soldier on. Having feelings isn’t a sign of weakness. Feelings mean we’re human. And when we deny our humanity, it leaves us feeling empty inside, searching for ways to self-medicate
in order to fill the void. My drug was high achievement. These days, I share my story openly, and I ask others to share theirs, too. I believe that’s what it takes to help people who may
be suffering in silence to know that they are not alone and to know that with help, they can heal. Now, I still have my struggles, particularly with the anxiety, but I’m able to manage it through daily mediation,
yoga and a relatively healthy diet. (Laughter) If I feel like things
are starting to spiral, I make an appointment to see my therapist, a dynamic black woman
named Dawn Armstrong, who has a great sense of humor and a familiarity that I find comforting. I will always regret that I couldn’t be there for my nephew. But my sincerest hope is that I can inspire others
with the lesson that I’ve learned. Life is beautiful. Sometimes it’s messy, and it’s always unpredictable. But it will all be OK when you have your support system
to help you through it. I hope that if your burden gets too heavy, you’ll ask for a hand, too. Thank you. (Applause)

100 comments

  1. I want to be a speaker. I want to know how this works.
    1. What is the Ted Talk Schedule like ? As in, how often are they held ? Is it every week/month?
    2. Where are the locations?
    3. Do I need to pay to speak/attend.. and if so, how much ?
    4. Is there a rule on what I can speak or not speak about? Do I have to be PC ?
    5. I heard there is some membership involved. How does that works… Please reply ASAP … This is urgent. Very important message for the world.. ty

  2. we are all humans, we have the same problems. i honestly understand you.
    depression comes for anyone, regardless of culture, nation, melanine amount or religion.

    the question is, why does this video so much accent black-skin people?
    as i say, we're all humans, so let's solve depression problem altogether, without any splits.

  3. There's some concerning misinformation here. The "chemical imbalance" theory has been disproved multiple times. The causes are a dysregulated nervous system caused by trauma, overwhelm, inflammation… and there are powerful methods that can help, and sometimes cure. Pharmaceuticals should only ever be a last resort. Science has proven that placebo, exercise, turmeric and other lifestyle additions outperform medications for depression and anxiety. Furthermore, new therapies outside of traditional talk therapy can help reduce activation in the nervous system, heal trauma, and help people self regulate while they increase resilience, heal developmental ruptures, and move on to health and even joy in their lives. While reducing the stigma is important and one where we've made a ton of progress – we also have a plethora of people self diagnosing. Feeling depressed or anxious is normal – but where it needs help is where it doesn't stop or shift. The brain can change and does through the course of our lives which means everything is temporary and neuroscience based therapies help it to do so by creating neural pathways to support long term health… if done consistently and with the right professional. These diagnoses are not always a life sentence – the brain can change at any time.

  4. First of all, "as a black woman" – just by this she made herself irrelevant…
    Second of all, how is she black? She looks tan…
    Third of all, depression is a weakness…
    Fourth of all, I am anxious myself, but sane enough to realize it is in fact a weakness…

  5. I appreciate your cause and purpose, but I can't help but feel that this is a self-indulgent task whereby you are only getting satisfaction out of others, who are, like yourself, from a fairly "privileged" background, and in a relatively good situation compared a more representative audience. The only reason I mention this is that it comes across in your speech, which otherwise might have been mildly motivational – this is all in in my humble opinion.

  6. I'm black and have anxiety and depression. Not to say that I haven't experienced racism, but racism isn't what holds me back. It is my fear.

  7. This woman shouldnt be saying that you can’t just shake it off. Depression is different for everyone who has it. Some people have been able to snap themselves out of it. It’s discouraging to say that someone cant shake it off. People with depression need to know they can fight it. Dont make them feel helpless.

  8. I want to watch this, but I'm afraid that my depressed can't be cured, and I have to cope with it, someday I will watch this

  9. I don't understand why TED doesn't get actual experts and professional psychologists or healthcare specialists for these subjects. They are the people who could do the most help and have the most knowledge about the subject.

    This woman thought depression was a weakness. She has no knowledge of merit, and she spreads misinformation. She makes racial generalizations. None of her talk is backed by careful science or research.

    Yet another subpar TED affirmative action talk.

  10. Unfortunately talking doesn't fix the problem, at most it can make you feel better about said problem or learn to deal with it but it won't be a final solution to anything. I've had enough talking, I want a solution.

  11. She talks about racial discrimination coz its a valid point and one she is familiar with. I couldnt relate once but until i immigrated to beautiful australia from my little home country, i realise i never truly knew racism or how it feels to be subject to discrimination coz of my ethnicity. Some people are more resilient than others. For those who are not, "silly" things like racism can be the tipping point. There are many different types of people in the world, each has their own voice and own experience. We should listen, not belittle.

  12. The best advice I can give, something thats helped me enormously, is to cultivate compassion through loving-kindness meditation. Like this: picture someone you truly love who you know is suffering in some way–a family member, friend, pet, anyone–and then cultivate the heart-warming feeling of wishing to give them relief and wishing them well. Then picture yourself also suffering what you are going through, and apply that feeling to yourself. Then cultivate this feeling with the awareness of all the human beings and all the species who are also suffering in this way, and apply that feeling and wish them well too.

  13. Talking actually helped me a lot to get out of my (self-diagnosed) depression. I had been having suicidal thoughts for months, and I had lost faith in life. I felt empty. I was holding all those thoughts inside, thinking that maybe it'd get better with time, or that I'd just have to deal with it forever, and it really was destroying me. When a friend of mine noticed that I wasn't fine and asked me what was wrong, I let it all out at once. It didn't cure me magically, but it helped me realise that I didn't have to go through this alone.
    Wether you decide to see a therapist or to talk with your friends or family, it is important to communicate. Do not keep this to yourself, even if you feel like it would just annoy others.

  14. Ya….I drank and lost everything then got depressed. Then I saw this….

    And now I am net addict…😀😀😀😀

  15. Can we talk about depression without mentioning black or white? Jesus.
    Depression affects and kills everyone and everyone deserves to be helped.

    I understand that she has to put things into context and tell her story but it´s not only black people who feel like asking for help when you are depressed is a weakness. I know alot of people who have done it; i have done it.

    This race/color bs is starting to get so annoying; we can´t have a conversation or listen to a human talking without race/color being mentioned.

    I know alot of people are going to think that i am hating etc but think for a bit and you will see that i am right.
    Stop with the color bs and help everyone who deserves it. It´s people like you, who have exposure who should lead by example and change minds.

    Everything she said about not suffering in silence etc was true tho. There´s always someone out there who can help you but sometimes they are so focused on their life that they might miss it if you don´t speak about it.

  16. As a white person, I'm not turned off at all by her sharing her experience as a black person and using words like "black", "black Americans", and "racism". I don't see why people sharing their own perspective are invalidated simply because what they share is not related to us. Having an open mind is how you learn something.

  17. Even more depressing, is telling someone that you suffer from depression and anxiety, and they tell you it's all in your head, like there is a switch that everyone can just click on.

  18. I don't believe, despite my own diagnosis, that for most of us, chemical inmbalances lay at the root of depression. I think that group is in the minority. Rather, environmental catalysts – like, well, for a lot of people – life just sucks: violence, abuse, poverty, extreme lonliness, financial stress (even self induced) constant fear, parental pressure, difficult children or teens, the daily threat of losing a high pressure, high paying job, facing sexual, racial or other harrassment (add in silence) to the point of wondering if it will escalate to violence – thinking maybe you should just end it all.

  19. No point made here that hasn't already been made in all previous talks I've seen on this channel about depression.
    Except she's black (who cares?) and professionally successful (again, who cares?). Meh.

  20. Talking to people makes the situation much worst. They don't care or don't understand. Medication is addictive, expensive and hard to get.
    The best solution for me is to live with it as long as I can.

  21. Very good presentation. It is important to put your thoughts into words and then to pronounce them. Your language is a wonderful tool and can heal you.

  22. Thank you for inspiring me and making me feel that in those odd ugly days I am not alone .Thanks for being my support system YouTube family.
    U just saved your nephew in India.

  23. My whole family suffer from depression and it's so hard sometimes I try and fight it but sometimes it's overwhelming that I feel like I will burst if I don't talk to someone but again I feel ashamed as I don't want to admit that I have the illness

  24. I was feeling deep anxiety and frustration, but as I listened to your speech, it really eased my mind. I find it so hard to control my anxiety and anger. I push ppl away, I dont really intimate anybody and I dont like ppl being to close too me either.

  25. She was not taking about race, she was talking about black culture, which is also Irish culture in that we also have the strong masculine and feminine ethos's. We just use different tools to conceal, namely humour, drink and maybe fighting ;p. Even I got triggered when she said "as a black woman" but I took an extra second to think about it more.

  26. What if you don't get/find a supporting system at all??? Even after trusting and reaching out to the people ,who we think can help us in healing and get better, do just nothing about our story but only judge??? I have totally become numb,now not willing to talk anymore or share anything,since now I knew nobody would ever understand the strange situations/loneliness l go through!!I understood there's nobody out there who's even ready to stand by my side when i need them the most!! One thing …I always wonder and ask myself,why do people give a word when they totally can't keep it up??? For example everybody says."I'll always be there,when you need me no matter what"! Are they trying to be polite or for just a formality?? Why don't they understand that they have some responsibility when they said it!!! Or is it just words!!! That just dissolves in air?? I mentioned it as their responsibility because they are giving a hope through their words! A hope to feel that even we would be cared, heard,healed and supported!! We don't cry for attention, we only cry when we know there's a helping hand to cry for!!!! But what if there's no one,no supporting system,no hope at all????????????

  27. Anybody can help me am Munish 23 years old boy. Am very depressed from last 4-5 years . One incident happen with me in front of girls. I took that very serious and i start taking lots of stress. Please guys help me. Now am very depressed and cant talk in front of peoples and like social phobia. Am started getting very nervous in front of girls. anybody can help me. Every days goes in stress. Now i cant go outside i feel very uncomfortable in front of any people now. Please help me guys. Am giving you mail id.
    [email protected]

  28. I feel as if I don’t have a support system the only person I feel I actually love is my bestfriend and idk if I can tell him or how he would think about me

  29. This video hits me hard. I remember when my bestfriend, my lovely friend named Kath told me that she almost dying as she takes a lot of pills and end up unconscious. Luckily, a few friends found her. If I lost her that day, I will always regret myself as her friend. I couldn't be there for her when she needs me the most. Even though she shares to me anything but the fact was she hurts badly and I never thought that it was that bad. Thank god for keeps her alive. For my love, my bestfriend, I LOVE YOU THE MOST, I will always be there for you. I will do my best and please just tell me if you need anything. I dont wanna lose you. I LOVE YOU, SERRRKATH 💖

  30. Thank you, you made my heart warm at the ending and flood with emotion.
    Relatable..

    Even just a YouTube left comment can make a big difference for someone
    to read.
    We are all on our own journey. I'm currently on a Drug Court/Recovery Court
    for alcohol and pills in the past.
    If you're reading this have a good day!

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