September is Suicide Prevention Month. I debated sharing, but figured why not? I have been transparent and vulnerable already a number of time so why shy away from my truth now? I honestly don’t know how or where to begin since I have contemplated suicide just a couple months ago. I always have morbid thoughts like, “I wonder who would really miss me if I were to kill myself” or “I wonder if this person would regret breaking my heart if I were dead?” Yeah, I know, really weird and scary thoughts, right? Of course they are, and that’s why people typically suffer in silence.
My suicidal thoughts began as early as middle school. My dad didn’t want to (or couldn’t) meet me, then he died. I watched my mom raise four girls with little help. I became my mom’s helpmate when she went back to college to earn not one degree, but two (B.S. & M.Ed.). I fell in love and began acting as if I were an adult who could handle all those feelings. I couldn’t. I became a rape victim who still to this DAY believes the hold he had on me was/is my fault. I was damn near homeless in college and nobody knew, not even my friend who lived next door. A sinus infection got so bad that I lost 30 pounds from not eating and couldn’t hold my head up. I truly wanted to lay there and die and tried to. My mom made me come home once she did a wellness check and saw the condition I was in.
I never vocalized any of my thoughts, emotions, sadness, or pain. Adulthood was even worse. I spent my 20s sad, depressed, lonely, and most of all pretending. I pretended I was happy. I pretended everything was great. I pretended to love myself. Facebook came along while I was pretending so I kept it up, and I got REALLY good at it. I hated my smile, I hated how I looked, I hated my voice, I hated myself. My weight fluctuated. In HS, I was athletic. I participated in everything I could so I didn’t have to go home and be the caregiver to my siblings because my mom was always working on school assignments. She was showing us how to persevere. But, I still felt alone and thrown into that title and responsibility. I look back on that period in my life and it sometimes seems like a blur, a blur of pain and sadness.
I wanted to die. I kept existing, but wanted to disappear. I wanted to make the world a better place by no longer being a part of it. It took losing my first pet (Noah) in 2013, who indeed saved my life in that moment, for me to speak to a therapist. There were times my mom found me in the fetal position in her bathroom because the loss was too much to bear. So, I went to therapy. I took the meds, but would stop when I felt better, which I now know is a no-no. I was 27 years old when I began therapy. WOW. What a late start. LOL. I stopped when I thought I was cured. And let me tell you, it doesn’t work that way. LOL. I eventually went back to therapy in 2018 at 32 years old. My counselor was great. She provided me with coping mechanisms and encouraged me to write in a journal, which I picked back up this year. When she went on maternity leave in October of 2019, I had to deal with life without her and it was tough. To make matters worse, my doctor retired so I was all alone again. I loved my doctor. I don’t think she thought about how much her abrupt retirement would have an affect on her patients. But, she can’t live her life based on her patients. So, I went through 2020 with no therapy and no medication. COVID-19 came and turned all of our worlds upside down so I suffered. There were days I would call my mom and sisters in tears and they would come over and sit with me. None of us understanding what was happening. I could never explain my feelings to them. Over the years, my sisters and I along with our mother have formed an undeniable bond. We are TIGHT, and nothing comes between us. So many people, including them, have saved my life. My friend, Ronald, told me about a time I posted something online and his wife told him to call me because it seemed suicidal.
It’s January 2021 and I am pushing SEL and mental health. My friend, Cherelle, told me to see a therapist because I can’t be pushing mental health and SEL if I am not doing the work in my personal life. Turns out, I am bipolar. The diagnosis scared me but was a relief. Everything made sense. I called my sisters immediately who also said everything makes sense to them now. LOL. We laughed and cried.
Mental health illness is a journey and everyone’s journey is different. I am a 35 year old Black women with Bipolar II Disorder. Even with medication and counseling, I STILL have morbid thoughts. I still feel inadequate, scared, ugly, fat… Life is hard. Don’t make it harder on people by being judgmental. Stop calling people crazy when they have a mental illness episode, quit using mental health as an excuse for terrorists (yes, that irks me), and stop speaking about the journey of others when you don’t know their stories.
Don’t assume that a smile or laughter means a person is okay. Check on your people and support them in ways in which they can be vulnerable and transparent with you.
All my love to you 💚