“Blacks are more likely to be socially withdrawn, and experience guilt and paranoia and internalize blame for whatever went wrong,” explains Newton, who is also president-elect of Black Psychiatrists of America. Workplace and personal conflicts can also fuel dramatic events and reactions, which often manifest in the form of anger and/or addiction.
The Problem with Being the ‘Problem Solver’
This was a reality for Jennifer Jones, 45, who was fired from her position as director of community relations at a New York cooperative development in December 2006. Refusing the company’s settlement changed her status to a voluntary resignation, which prevented her from collecting unemployment.
“I was angry and humiliated,” says the married mother of two, who was told she had clinical depression. “After eight years, all my efforts and programs I’d created all went down the tubes.” Over the course of nearly two years, the formerly two-income family went into a financial tailspin. The couple depleted their savings and took their daughters, one in college, out of private schools. They traded in two cars for one and moved from their Princeton, New Jersey, home to a relatively small apartment in the New York City area to be closer to family. Feelings of disgrace because of the lack of viable employment opportunities and the stress of her family’s upheaval took a toll on Jones. She became a virtual recluse, sleeping constantly, overeating, and eventually ceasing most of the functions of daily living, including the care of her younger daughter. Her husband helped pick up the slack.
With no history of mental illness, Jones was convinced the low feelings would recede over time. “I was told to pick myself up and count my blessings,” she recalls. “I’ve always been the go-to problem solver for my family. It was impossible to believe I couldn’t help myself.”
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