World Suicide Prevention Day 2019: You Make Today Better
A year ago I was hopeless, broke, and I wanted to die. I believed that at the age of thirty-six it was too late to make a life worth living. I was so scared of myself because I had no idea who I really was without drugs or alcohol.
I wanted to hear the candid account of someone in the middle, maybe just past the hardest days of this illness, but not quite to the happy ending where you’ve reached the place you never thought you would.
We refuse to stay silent, we refuse to let stigma and the shame it thrives on, encourage us to sit idly while hundreds of thousands of people struggle.
The conversations surrounding mental health in the Black community tend to get drummed down into a whisper; it becomes the uncomfortable silence at the dinner table when the name of a loved one too far gone to be brought back home comes up in a way that stirs the air.
We can fight hard for others, but we cannot fight their battles. We are enough. They are enough. But what we do for them, sometimes, is not enough to save them.
By telling our stories, we allow them to find the light, to find other people and other storytellers. Suicide took the power of storytelling from my brother.
After my sister died, I did a lot of walking. I’d walk loops in woods behind my house; two, three, four times on the same trail.
I sat in an office all day telling clients all of the reasons to live, all of the ways to get out of depression, all of the things that made them important and why the world needed them. And I felt like a hypocrite each day, never believing a word I said when it came to myself.
When I used to feel suicidal, I felt so detached and numb. But having people vocalize their support—friends, family and therapists—made such a lasting impact, even though I didn’t realize it at the time.
Hilary’s death was a turning point in my life. I had struggled with depression, OCD, and anxiety for most of my existence, but I was afraid to tell anyone, except my mom, about it. I worried what other people might think of me. But when Hilary died by suicide, I realized I had to push past that worry and speak up.
If I were to make a list of all the words I, or others, might use to describe me, it might include: “weird,” “inconsiderate,” “quiet,” “lonely,” “goofy,” “kind,” “awkward,” “focused,” and “depressed.”
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