With this tragic death and the suicide of Robin Williams, I thought it would be fitting to talk about my own personal story. It is hard for me to speak on this because I carry with me such shame. I am a child of God after all. I grew up in church. I am not supposed to have suicidal thoughts. Well, today I pushing back my shame so someone else will be touched and seek out help or go help someone.
In 2006, I was attending grad school in Alabama; I ran away from my problems. I was getting a fresh start. After all no one in Alabama knew I had been fired from my job, rejected from my church, slept with my best friend’s man, and the love of my life was engaged to marry someone else. I could be a new woman. I could wipe the slate clean. After a few months in Alabama, the person I was running away from caught up with me. I begin to cry all the time. I was so sad and lonely. I couldn't tell my mom or family because I didn't want to worry them. I would go home to visit them and put on my happy face. I would laugh and enjoy myself but on the drive back to school, I would cry and have suicidal thoughts. what if I just drove off the side of this mountain? Would anybody find me? I wonder what it would feel like to die. Thank-God something in me would shake those thoughts from my mind.
I remember one day I was in my apartment and the suicidal thoughts were so strong in my head. I was crying uncontrollably. I remember picking up the knife and crying out to God if you love me, PROVE IT! At that very moment, my phone rang. It was my daddy calling me. He said, “The Holy Spirit told me to call you”. He said he was sitting in class and felt like something was wrong. I lied and told him everything was ok, but I was inwardly praising God for that phone call. I realize that I mattered to someone.
I know how it feels to put on a happy face but dying on the inside. You hope that one somebody will actually see behind the plastered smile and really ask how you are doing. You wish people would stop seeing you as strong, independent, and anointed but for once see the person behind the anointing. You want them to see the real you. You want to be vulnerable and the perception of how you perceive people view you keeps you from being vulnerable.
I have never called a help line…at the time of my depression, I didn't know they were available. I refuse to take any medicine because of the stigma attached to them. I sought out wise counseling. I began to write in my journal more frequently. I found a friend who would listen to me without judgment. When I find myself getting depress now, I make sure I surround myself with people who love me. I openly express to them my feelings. I found an outlet in writing. My writing has become a life saver.
This is my story, but I know there are millions of other stories out there. Maybe, you have a similar story. Suicide and mental illness are real. They know no boundaries. They cross racial, economic, and social line. Mental illness is a painting with many faces. We have a responsibility and duty to learn more about how to prevent suicide and recognize depression in our love ones. We must check-up on love ones and be willing to listen to their story without judgment. We must learn our triggers and be willing to raise our hands to say, “Hey I need help”. We have to learn how to look past a person talents, gifts and money to see the human in them. Can you recognize the sadness behind the smile? Are you in tune well enough with a love to know when they are out of sync?
I have to ask myself these very same questions. I've learned the grass is not always greener on the other side nor am I the only person going through something. There are many lessons to learn from these two people and my story. I am still learning mine. The greatest lesson I’ve learned is God is real and take one day at a time.