ll of these things are so hush hush. No one wants to admit to their mental health issues, no one wants to associate with those who may have them, and if you go to therapy, you’re probably being considered a nut job right now by somebody somewhere. To be honest, discussing mental health disorders and issues have always kind of been awkward for me. Until yesterday.
This afternoon I found out that a shining star had passed away. A person so bright, so ambitious, and so full of life was no longer here with us. Pictures of her make me smile, her words sound like my very own, and her presence, her aura… so pure and light. Her name was Karyn, founder of ForBrownGirls.com, home of #thedarkskingirlredlipproject campaign. She was a fellow dreamer, I think that’s why she and I connected. We were dreamers that wanted to change the world, one beautiful woman at a time. But all dreamers have a story, all dreamers have their demons to battle.
This is not an effort to exploit this beautiful young woman, this is a note full of hope. The hope to bring attention to something that is often ignored, yet so crucial within today’s world. Mental Health should not be overlooked. It should not be shunned. It should not be considered taboo. The stigma surrounding depression or other emotional / mental disorders needs to be lifted so that conversations can be had and lives can be saved. We need to open the door and treat such issues with just as much care and recognition as we do for other serious matters impacting our communities.
As a pre-teen, I was an avid cutter and by the time I had gotten to college I had picked up many other terrible ways to self-mutilate. I don’t think my parents realized that I had problem until I put myself in the hospital. I tried to commit suicide at the age of 16. It never occurred to me to have conversations about the scary thoughts that took place within my mind. I never tried to explain the constant feeling of self hatred and deep sadness. I never tried because somewhere in the universe, there was an unwritten law that I was not allowed to. When they sent me to therapy, it was kept a hush hush secret. Even after leaving the hospital, no one ever addressed what had happened, and why. I felt embarrassed and ashamed for something I had little understanding about.
Until I had a conversation with people who wanted to understand. A conversation they started out of care.
A conversation can make all the difference.
Today my mum knows every thought and battle I go through, none half as bad as what they used to be. My aunts have a clear view into my life. I don’t feel stifled within my mind and the conversations are natural. I can express my emotions and I honest to God love being alive.
A conversation can make a fucking difference.
I probably wouldn’t have sought out the help I needed and stuck to it if I didn’t have that one conversation one day where I wasn’t shunned.
Not everyone gets this one conversation, which is why I am blogging today.
For people who are fortunate enough to have never experienced depression, you never know the sufferings of the people around you. But if you happen to get a glimpse of such sufferings… extend a hand. A simple “Are you okay,” or “We can talk” can create that opening to the conversation a person in need desires.
For those us who have conquered, conquering or just beginning the battle against depression, you have nothing to be ashamed of. Seek the help you need, and do it with pride. You working towards a better you and I promise you there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Rest In Peace Karyn. May you continue to shine ever so brightly.