Originally Posted 2018
I felt like such a hypocrite as I put together a workshop on suicide prevention for my nonprofit. I was asked before whether or not I had thoughts of suicide. Each time I was asked this my answer was always "no" After watching a Ted Talk done by someone who attempted suicide I realized I shouldn't be ashamed of my truth. That's what I was ashamed of.
In college, I was a transfer student and resident assistant on campus. I didn't have a roommate, so it was easy for me to become invisible.There was a time when I felt helpless and I sought a counselor. I admitted to my best friend why I was seeing a counselor, and immediately he expressed how bad he felt, and each day he made sure to check in with me. I felt guilty for how bad I made my friend felt and for some reason after that I kept those thoughts to myself. I'm the one who is supportive of my friends. It was so strange to see that my friends felt they needed to support me. It felt wrong. I was raised in a home with a mother who didn't show emotion. I can count on my left hand how many times I saw my mom cry. I can only remember 3. Three times my mother cried in my presence. For some reason in my mind being honest about feeling down, weak or defeated wasn't an option. I felt like I had to be this strong black woman. Strong meaning not showing any vulnerability. I also thought that if jobs saw that I was seeing a therapist, they would use it against me, so even now, I pay out of pocket, just to keep my secret.
Another reason I would keep my thoughts to myself is that these feelings were recurrent and I didn't want to be looked at as weak or a problem, someone my friends and family needed to worry about. I refuse to be anyone's burden. Since my mother's passing, I have had several episodes of deep depression some lasting a few days, weeks or months.
After watching the TED Talk and seeing letters written by family members on youtube videos, it reminded me of the love I have surrounding me even when I don't feel like I do, which I'm sure many people can relate to. We have a support system and should not be afraid to use it. If we feel like we'll be judged or misunderstood as I'm sure in some cultures a safe space doesn't exist there are hotlines such as the Suicide Prevention Lifeline ( 1-800-273-8255). I used a hotline before in 2009, and after two conversations I felt ok. Talking through our feelings makes it so much easier to manage when it's in your head it feels like a beast trying to take over.
Today I don’t feel ashamed of taking care of my mental health. It’s my form of self-love. I am committed to daily meditation and improving my relationship with God, which has helped me tremendously with facing anxiety and depression. I know it gets better. IT ALWAYS GETS BETTER.
I want others to know that it's ok to say how they feel and talk about what's on their mind. After seeing the statistics that every 12 minutes 1 person commits suicide in the united states and remembering a schoolmate of mine passing away a few years ago along with an attempt by a family member, I’ve been more attentive to what people post, say and do including, family, my students and strangers. Yup I check in with my new friend on IG who struggles with depression
I encourage us all to just be more considerate and compassionate of others, to listen without judgment and to allow a safe space for people to share how they are feeling.
This post was originally written in 2018. I must say I am proud of how much I’ve grown with the consistent work I’ve done on myself. I read this and was like who was this person? :). I’ve been in such a better place. I still see my therapist weekly and let my insurance cover it. I mean my job is what causes me much stress anyway (I’m kidding) :)