Many families share the good, the bad and the ugly with each other, especially spouses. But how do often do spouses speak about their mental health? Some moms and daughters and sons and fathers are best friends, but would they open up about being depressed? In this week’s episode of The Carmichael Show, Cynthia, the wife, and mother (Loretta Devine) is caught crying while she is in the kitchen alone. While this is a comedy, the response of husband and father, Joe, (David Alan Grier) is that she has “the blues”, which he describes as some crying, sadness, and excessive sleeping.
Maxine, the girlfriend of Jerrod Carmichael (one of the shows creators), pushes back and the family has an open conversation about depression. Surprisingly, well maybe not actually, all of the responses are common in the African-American community; “only rich people get depressed”, “your mom isn’t depressed, she is strong”, and there is an “uncle that hasn’t left home in 15 years” that gets swept under the rug. The episode goes on to discuss therapy, shows how the Carmichaels deal with the news that mom is depressed. Jerrod Carmichael, encourages his mom to seek help. He and Maxine are in the minority as other family members chime in on the subject.
According to the National Institue on Mental Health, “Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States“. Depression is defined as “A period of two weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-image” according to the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). It is understandable that many parents, especially moms, feel like they cannot open up or even address their own feelings or needs. It is accepted that parents are supposed to be the strong ones, and be the “backbone” for their children and sometimes the rest of the family. Parents are supposed to be an example of perfection and strength, right? Not all of the time!! Children need to know that sometimes mom and dad need their own time and that mom and dad have rough days too. They need to see examples of self-care and self-love! Letting anyone believe that you have it together 100% of the time is a disservice to your family, as well as yourself. The better we take care of ourselves, the better we can continue to take care of our families.
The Carmichael Show tackles this sensitive topic with truth and laughter! Tune in each Sunday for new episodes of this great comedy! NBC.com has full episodes of season 2 online. The link to the full episode is here.