The Walking Wounded

Depression is a debilitating medical condition that affects blacks as it does no other group. Left unchecked it can affect much more than your mood—it can ruin your health

Subject: Stephen Okinduro


Despite lifelong periods of sadness, excessive drinking, and social withdrawal, Stephen Akinduro had little inkling that he was depressed and never connected his symptoms to his risky behavior. So Akinduro, a trained pharmacist, didn’t seek therapy until his sexual promiscuity and pornography addiction began to confound his life and finances. “I just wanted a quick fix for my behavior, a set of rules and guidelines on how to behave so I could feel normal,” the 38-year-old Columbus, Georgia, resident recalls.

His therapist probed into his childhood and eventually revealed the root of Akinduro’s depression. When he was 8, his mother committed suicide after enduring years of abuse from his father. Akinduro witnessed the abuse. “I never cried at my mother’s funeral. My father told me ‘big boys don’t cry’ and I sucked it in.”

For Akinduro, a depressive episode that would spiral into a catastrophe could be triggered by a relationship breakup or a challenge at work. But like many sufferers he had learned to mask his depression. One supervisor suspected his secret after a heated verbal exchange at work that followed a co-worker’s racially insensitive remark. “I was shocked that he picked up on it but I didn’t want to share my problems with a stranger,” says Akinduro, who was eventually told he had bipolar disorder.

Akinduro is one of the roughly 14 million Americans who suffer from a form of depression each year. The disorder is characterized by mood fluctuations, low self-attitude, and five or more symptoms that persist for at least two weeks. These include mood disturbances, difficulty concentrating, psycho-motor retardation (slowing down of function), inexplicable crying, irritability, feelings of impending doom, lack of interest in leisure activities, decreased libido, and social withdrawal. Sufferers may also experience polar behavior such as lack of appetite or overeating and constant sleeping or sleeplessness. Bipolar individuals may engage in high-risk sexual activity. If symptoms persist, they can drive sufferers to commit suicide.

Depression is more intense than the normal feelings of sadness or loneliness that everyone experiences occasionally. It is also different from the grief experienced within two months of the loss of a loved one. Major depression, also called clinical

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    Thank you for covering this very important topic of “Depression” as it relates to Black Americans. The title “the Walking Wounded” grabbed my attention. Afterall, so many of my federal colleagues who seek to expose racial discrimination suffer from generalized anxiety disorders, major depression, post- traumatic stress disorder and other resulting health problems due to years of being subjected to a hostile work environment. Even in this “new racial era”, hundreds of thousands of public servants face workplace discrimination and retaliation for reporting civil rights injustices. I, too, have suffered. I have experienced the sadness, the social withdrawal, and many of the symptoms addressed in the present article. Years of lengthy litigation (class action against the U.S. Department of Commerce) and work-place ill-treatment with no managerial accountability takes its’ toll. It leaves one feeling empty. A very dear friend of mine, a retired U.S. Marshal, who proved discrimination against the Department of Justice’s Marshal Service, was left to litigate his case for roughly 25 years (a quarter of a century). In the end, he prevailed. However, the exposure of racism and protracted litigation caused injury that no amount of money can ever compensate for.

    In an effort to give my personal pain, PURPOSE, I founded the Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C). It serves to provide informational and spiritual support for Black public servants who bravely expose civil rights violations. It also serves to address race discrimination in the federal government thereby improving the administration of public goods and services. Our members are brilliant and educated present and former public servants, who find therapeutic value in helping others and society. Our members recently submitted a report to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health. Within the coming months we will post our report on the C4C, Inc. website at
    Tanya Ward Jordan, Founder
    The Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C)

  • Ninette Allen

    I understand what the people in the article went through. I have had cases of depression all my life. Your past affects the present and future of your life. I had to come to grips being abandoned as a child without loving affection from my family. Understand your problem(s) that cause the depression by getting help and confronting it head on by talking about to anyone that will listen including yourself. Love yourself and always be positive no matter what. As long as you are able to open your eyes everyday, it is a great day!!

  • Thank you so much for writing this article and writing about my cousin, Stephen, from Cloumbus, GA. His mother was my first cousin and we loved her as we love him and always wanted to do something to make him feel better and to some how make his pain go away. It (derpession) which has followed him for all these years now has a name. We pray that now that he knows what it is that he can finally move forward. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for featuring him in your article. May God Bless and Keep you and your family in his Grace.


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