I feel like such a hypocrite as I put together the 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. I remember in college when I was feeling helpless I sought a counselor. I admitted to a 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 was an RA on campus. I didn’t have a roommate, so it was easy for me to become invisible. I felt guilty for how bad I made my friend feel 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 feel like I have 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 this was reoccurring 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 t take over.
I am committed to daily meditation which has helped me tremendously with facing anxiety and depression. I change my thoughts when I begin to think about suicide because I know it gets better. IT ALWAYS GETS BETTER. After hearing the TEd Talk, I am committed to being more vocal about my thoughts and emotions. 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 this summer along with an attempt by my family member I want us to just be more considerate of others, to listen without judgment and to allow a safe space for people to talk.