Happy Monday, everybody! I hope that

Happy Monday, everybody! I hope that
you had a fantastic week last week
but if you didn't, please note that today
is the start of a brand new week.
Consider it an opportunity for a 'do
over' and make the most of it.
If you follow me on social media,
you've probably seen me touch on this topic. My apologies in advance for
sounding repetitive, but I think that it's extremely important that we start the
dialogue of mental health, especially as it pertains to the Black community.
A few days ago, 22 year old blogger at For Brown Girls, Karyn Washington,
committed suicide. Her death sent shockwaves throughout the blogging
community, as many commented that they 'had no idea' or 'didn't see any of this
It literally tore me up to the core because on more than one occasion, I have been
Karyn Washington. I have been in extremely dark places and felt that ending my
life would be best. Admittedly, I still have those thoughts at times. Depression is a
mental disorder that effects so many of us, but rarely do we seek the help
necessary to at least provide a small bandage on our hearts for healing.
At the age of about 19, I was diagnosed with depression and was sent home from
college (UNC Chapel Hill) because of it. The doctor told my parents and me that I
'wasn't well,' and that it was best if I stay home for a semester or two to piece
together my thoughts. I was completely devastated because I felt that I had let my
parents down. I let myself down. But I also realized that I spent the vast majority of
the time while at school in my bed crying or sleeping. I'd wake up, shower, get
back in bed, crying just enough to fall asleep...only to repeat it all the next day.
During a family gathering (you know those gatherings where they ask you how's
school, who you're dating, what's going on with you, etc), there were lots of
questions as to why I wasn't in school anymore. 'What in the world could be so
bad about life that you'd give up on getting a quality education,' they'd ask me.
'The doctor said that I have depression, you guys.'
'Depression? Oh girl, that ain't nothing but the devil. You better get on your knees
and ask God to fix it, get your butt back in the church, and stop acting like the
sun has to rise and set just because you want it to and supposedly ain't feeling
well. You're way too young to be worried about nothing.'
Exact words. I'll never forget those words, the way they were said, or even who
said them. On the outside, I smiled and gave a look of assurance that said 'Maybe
you're right. Maybe I DO need to get in church more. Silly me! Stupid doctor.' On
the inside though, I was crying. It hurt that no one understood that depression
wasn't a choice for me. I didn't go to bed at night thinking that I would absolutely
LOVE to wake up tomorrow and cry all day. It would be SO DOPE to sit in the
dark under the covers all day, barely wanting to shower, contemplating the best
(and easiest) way to end your own life. It sucks that nobody got it. It sucks that I
felt so alone. My great grandmother was the only one who understood. Once she
found out that this was my diagnosis, she would make it a point to ask me about it
EVERY single time that she saw me. And she would always leave me with
something to let me know that even if EVERYBODY else was turning against me,
she was there.
'You just have to see the doctor, do what they tell you, and never forget to take
your medication. I don't like all those ole medicines that they try to give ya these
days but honey, God has angels too. And for us with depression, those angels
are doctors and friends who can help us shake this monkey off our back. Your
grand mama knows you're not crazy. But I know how you feel. I love you.'
It's always been extremely hard for me to talk about my mental disorder. When
you choose to disclose what you're going through with some, one of the first
things they say is 'Oh...well that explains it.' You're always met with a host of
disrespectful comments that usually has a dose of 'it ain't that bad' or 'you ain't the
only one with issues' sprinkled in there.
Ever since I've been a bit more vocal about my own issues with depression,
several people have reached out to me to share their stories. Those stories
include family members and friends turning their backs on them or letting them
know that their mode of thinking was way too selfish and that the best thing they
could do would be to 'get over it.' I want to tell you all that if you are ever suffering
from depression in ANY form, you are absolutely not alone.
Do NOT feel guilty about the feelings that you have.
Do NOT allow anyone to shun you for a place that you did NOT choose to be in.
Do NOT be afraid to reach out to a doctor. Get enrolled in some therapy sessions,
get medicine, learn to meditate or do all of the above. The most important thing is
to remember that you are not alone.
Many people have chosen to sweep mental disorders under the rug. Giving those
with various disorders the label of crazy or delusional often provides those who
are suffering with more than enough reason to keep their feeling to themselves.
When these feelings are bottled up and begin to fester...when we feel as though
we're at a point where there's no way out...nobody that we can talk to or confide
in...no one that understands what we're dealing with or going through...or even
TRYING to understand, we have cases like Karyn's.
The rate in which people are losing their lives to this is astounding, and the only
way that we can change it is by first acknowledging its existence and then working
to embrace those who need it the most. While it may (unfortunately) be too late to
save Karyn Washington, Abraham Biggs, Josh Marks, Lee Thompson
Young, Pastor Ed Montgomery, and a host of others, it's never too late to
commit to those around you. Karyn's death was the spawn of many posts on
social media, with everyone vowing to do better, making a full commitment to
answering those phone calls, texts, and emails. But it shouldn't take death to
make any of us realize that we should stick to what we say we're going to do and
simply be there.
Maybe you don't personally suffer from a mental disorder, but it doesn't hurt to
hold yourself accountable for the friends and family around you who do. Trust
me...there's someone around you right now who's suffering in silence. In spite of
what many of us have learned at home, suffering alone is counterproductive and
completely necessary.
Let's commit to taking care of one another so that stories like Karyn's become
less frequent. We all deserve the opportunity to live, but it should not be at the
expense of our voices. Speak up. Speak out. Listen. Commit to taking care of
those around you. You never know how much of a difference you can make if you
with love,
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