When I was 20...I tried to commit suicide.
It was exactly 3 months before my 21st birthday. I should have been excited to turn 21. But...I wasn't. My life was an absolute wreck. I was taking a full load of classes. I was trying joining a sorority, which presented its own set of drama and mayhem, and on top of that, I had a boyfriend who was a master manipulator. I wouldn't say he was "abusive" in that sense of the word...but what I will say was nothing I did was ever good enough, I never spent enough time with him, and I never seemed to please him I hated being where I was in life. I played the same CD's over and over. I read too much Sylvia Plath. My weight, a constant struggle, went up and down because of binge eating or not eating at all. My mother and I, despite our good relationship, were fighting much more often because I could not stand what I was seeing at home between her and my Father. And although she was right, I chose to ignore her advice. I felt I didn't belong anywhere: not in college, not in my sorority, not in my family, not in my relationship...
I had to escape.
On December 28th, 2000 I took lots of asprin, and just waited, then I started to convulse and vomit. My mother called my brother..and we went to the hospital. They pumped my stomach with charcoal. I cried and cried. They kept me on a 72 hr hold.
My mother was a panic. My brother cried. My father was angry, more concerned, as usual with the cost of this hospital visit than how I was. The boyfriend at the time came to see me and was more concerned about himself than my health. I was in a room with a lady who apparently heard voices. I didn't eat anything. And the medicine they gave me (I learned after the fact was Prozac), made me feel sicker.
At the time, I refused to go see a therapist. I refused to take medicine. I just refused anything.....and a few weeks later..I was back in class..as if nothing had happened. Instead of being depressed, I threw myself into everything I could. And no one knew anything. Eventually, those suicidal feelings subsided and I coasted through college, graduate school, and eventually life as an "adult" relatively unburdened by that trampling feeling of sadness.
Or so I thought....
Fast forward to early 2008, and with the compounding pressures of a divorce, finding out my husband had been unfaithful numerous times, finances and weight ballooning, and threatening to lose it all, I contemplated taking that route again.. I felt alone. I felt lost. I had pills. I had alcohol. I had access to fire arms. I knew it was bad when I thought about jumping in front of a train platform one morning heading to work. But the turning point was when I sat in a bathtub, fully clothed, drinking red wine from the bottle, water running, hoping I would get so drunk I'd drown. Luckily, my then husband caught me.. At the time I cursed him out, but that is when I knew I had to get help. I sought a counselor....that helped me with these issues, prescribed me a small level anti-depressants, and helped me form the courage to seek healthier alternatives than committing suicide. I was diagnosed with episodic depression and although I knew the difference between "chronic" and episodic, I knew having a name for it made me feel a lot better.I was able to pinpoint this via therapy, that I had experience episodic depression throughout the years, beginning in my early teens. I just thought I had "sadness", not depression.. I told my husband at the time they put me on a small dose of anti-depressants. And he frowned. He was mr psuedo-holistic-black-nationalist-fake-Rasta dude. When we got into an argument once, he said, "You're the crazy one! You're the one on the pills"....
When he said that, I knew the end was near.
Getting my depression under control, I believe, gave me the courage to leave a dead marriage, to start my life over, and to embraces a new me. I'd rather be sane and whole and medicated...than dead metaphorically.
I say all this to say that mental issues are nothing to be ashamed of, especially in the African-American community. People kept telling me to "pray" or that "it will get better" or to just "buy myself something nice" or even "just get a new man". But all the money, prayer, clothes and men couldn't resolve what I knew was fundamentally wrong with me: I was sad. I was not well. I needed help beyond material or even metaphysical. I encourage counseling. I seek it from time to time when I know the road is rocky.I would encourage anyone to get help .
At first...I said I would never speak about this...But today I tell my story. Today is National No Shame day...and I live to tell.........
I want to thank poet/writer/all around dope Bassey Ikpi,the Siwe Project and the #NoShame Twitter campaign for giving me the courage to help someone with this post.
Be encouraged...life is worth and FOR living :)
Please visit The Siwe Project’s website to share your story or read the stories of others who have experience mental health issues. You can also tweet The Siwe Project at @thesiweproject on twitter with the hashtag #NoShame.