Like many in the black community, I had a sense of humiliation surrounding depression and anxiety. I didn’t want a label to define me which is why I was totally against speaking with a therapist. I was terrified of being diagnosed and therein given a label. I was struggling with my own thoughts and doing it in silence. My mind was my enemy and I felt it was my war to fight on my own. After all, it is “my” mind. I had become my own worst enemy and soon I started to feel like suicide was my only option… I felt death was better than my suffering. Yet, I never went through with it wholeheartedly.
My malti-poo is why I’m still here today. I felt my family had a support system to get through me making this selfish choice and my real friends would eventually move on with time. Time heals all wounds, right? However, how long could Santana survive until someone found me? I barely talked to my friends and I’m hours away from my family. How long could she go without food and water? Santana didn’t ask to be with an owner in this mental state. I brought her into this. So, I couldn’t follow through. The thoughts were always there, but I could never follow through and would never follow through. Thank God for putting Santana in my life!
Eventually, I started to think that I just needed a reminder that pain is temporary. If I had that, I would be ok… I would get past it. These thoughts turned into the self-harm phase in my life. This phase lasted until my now husband intervened. I, initially, didn’t see the issue with it since I had no intentions of committing suicide. But then, I saw the pain in his eyes when he found out what I was doing. At that moment, I realized that my radical actions would always affect at least one person who sincerely cares about me more drastically than I thought before. It was because of him that I started to really evaluate myself and my emotions. I am beyond thankful for my husband. God knew who and what I needed in my life. Blessed!
I needed a new outlet... one that wasn't so drastic. So, when I felt sad or depressed, I would still cry, but I started to take a long shower to “wash away” the gloomy emotions. It helped. When I felt angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed, I began taking long walks. That worked even better. Those walks eventually turned into jogs which progressed into high intensity workouts. Out of this, I began to create goals worth living for because I saw my own value. Exercise was the starting point for me. It proved to me that there were alternatives. With this realization, I began to acknowledge the idea of speaking to a therapist no matter what the diagnosis may be. I wanted to be better... not only for my husband, but for myself. Don't get it twisted, I was nervous.However, I pushed through. I did it. I finally won! I overcame the stigma. I overcame my humiliation. I overcame my own mind. It is still a battle, but I know my worth and therefore, I win each day now.
It’s your turn now. It’s OK to see a therapist. It’s OK to deal with your issues without seeing them as a stigma. You’re not alone and you’re not weak. You’re hurting. Reach out to the right people and overcome. It’s possible.