Mental Illness – Depression – Suicide…..A Personal Experience

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Karyn Washington, creator of ForBrownGirls.com committed suicide. She was ONLY 22 years old.

Today’s post is dedicated to Forbrowngirls.com creator Karyn Washington, who at the tender age of 22, committed suicide. It’s said that she battled mental illness and depression and naturally, in the black community, she hid it like those like US do. We are told that having depression while being black is “a white people thing” and that we should just pray on it and medication is the devil. I’m a witness to that fucked ideology. The moment I’d mention an illness it’ll be “stop that white shit. You ain’t sick.” So I thought that being depressed was literally a white person’s problem so how could I have THEIR KIND of problem.

Sounds stupid right?

SURE DOES but it’s the truth for many African-American kids and how we were raised.

As a teen I struggled with self-hate and depression but with a drug addicted mother all I got was abuse and told to go to my room. I never knew what depression was or that I had it. I js thought I was crazy because I was called crazy. I remember when my mother found my suicide note and read it out loud with my sister while I sat in the bathtub, they laughed at me and called me a “stupid bitch.” I can never forget that moment although my mother (may she rest in peace) and my sister probably have no recollection of it ever happening. And why would they, it wasn’t THEIR dark hour, it was mine.

I’m here to SPEAK UP for Karyn, myself and others like us. Being African-American does not make us exempt from mental illness. Depression is not a “white people’s thing” it’s a human mental problem that can affect ANYONE and it is real. Medication is not the devil. Praying helps some but not everyone can get better with prayer.

Karyn is me and I’m crying just remembering the moment I locked myself in the bathroom and started to cut. I still have the scars on my arm that reminds me of how I let society and family determine my mental state to the point where I wanted to take my own life. The scars used to be so vivid, now they are 48 slashes on my forearm (that you can see when I post swatches yet I don’t care) that are fading into my skin tone. I see them still, as clear as if they never healed. I used to shame myself for being too coward to not have finished. Who does that?? A broken kid with no one to listen to her tell them that she needs help is who does that – You have no idea how that process fucks with you; seeing yourself begin to end your own life because you need help and you have no one to listen to you tell them that you feel “Strange inside.”

I AM KARYN WASHINGTON and I’m so sorry that she felt she had to kill herself.

I live with depression now. I fight it. I am stronger because I know I have it and it’s OK. I’m NOT CRAZY. Once I sought help I became better because now I know ME and once you understand YOUR depression you can survive it.

I was about 23 when I LAST attempted to take my life and I can never forget that day. I had tried to kill myself a total of 3 times in my life. I am almost 32 so I am happy to be here and I realize that I deserve to be here. Because no one wanted to help me, I helped myself and sought out help. I walked into a hospital one day crying, in tears and I told the nurse, “I want to kill myself but I don’t, I just can’t help the thoughts anymore. I need help.” She grabbed my arm, sat me down and took my information. She talked to me, told me of some options and then they kept me on watch in a room with a cop outside the door for hours. After that day I waited to call for a therapist appointment but when I did, I was afraid the first time I walked into her office. . .she was an African-American woman and I felt odd. Every look she gave me felt like a look from my mother, like she was shaming me. I stopped seeing her and waited years to see another one. It wasn’t until I took my son to see a family-therapist that I was told by his therapist that it wasn’t him who needed the help, it was me. I didn’t fight it, I started making my own appointments with her and that whole year was one of the best in my life. I opened up so much, I let go of so much, and I discovered that I was not alone.

When I began anti-depressants my aunt blamed the devil and said I just needed Jesus. She thinks that I need to stop “Owning an illness” calling it mine but I think she is wrong. Claiming it helped me to accept it and acceptance helped me to tackle it and being that I am not religious, I couldn’t see her views of, “Give it to God” because even those who give it a higher power submit to a lower medically powered individual who offers advice or prescriptions. SO I said NO to my aunt’s thoughts and knew that I needed medication and because of it I am balanced. I can feel the difference in my body, my friends can notice when I am off the meds just by how I act. NO, I don’t like taking them, but I know that if I want to continue living a healthy life then I need to. I see my therapist every week at 6pm like clockwork and every week I work through yet another horrible memory or feeling or some bullshit that I was stuck with as a kid to hold inside and it’s now manifesting it’s way into my normal everyday life fucking up how I live. It is a never-ending treatment but it is not the end of the world. I have boderline personality disorder. . . .and the moment I read the description of someone like that and it matched me to a T I almost puked. I felt sick inside to think that, OMG I AM CRAZY!! But no. . .not crazy just not equipped to deal with the issues I am facing because I was only taught to sweep it under the rug and pray about it.

We need to quit hiding illness in the black community because it’s deemed “wrong” and we are not strong. SHEEEEIIIIIIIIIIIIIT, I am strong as hell, I have been to my lowest level and have risen to a higher LEVEL with more levels to go. There is nothing weak about an illness!

I AM NOT ASHAMED ANYMORE!

SPEAK UP.

TALK ABOUT IT.

HELP OTHERS KNOW THAT THEY TOO CAN SURVIVE IT.

PARENTS: Stop shaming your children for an illness they cannot control. Help them. Take them to a Medical Doctor. Learn about their depression. Love them. Teach them to love and let them know that its OK. Do not call them crazy. Don’t leave them alone to deal with something much bigger than them. Two of my close friends Lauren and Maria, in my darkest hours offered to go to therapy with me. Hearing their support made me even stronger because I knew I was not alone so do not leave your children alone and make them wait for friends to be their support system.

COMFORT THEM NOW.

BE THEIR SUPPORT SYSTEMS NOW.

YOU CAN STOP THIS GROWING TREND.

I AM #KARYNWASHINGTON

and I speak #FORBROWNGIRLS like us.

Will you speak up for them and yourself too!?

REST IN PEACE TO BRIGHT, TALENTED, AND BEAUTIFUL YOUNG WOMAN.

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4 thoughts on “Mental Illness – Depression – Suicide…..A Personal Experience

  1. Elaine says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. I was diagnosed with depression a couple of years ago but I was ill a long time before I sought help because I was brought up in a household where mental illnesses are not acknowledged and is considered acting out. If I had known earlier that I was ill I would have gotten help sooner and I would have not hurt myself. Stay strong and thank you for this post.

  2. Rae says:

    I feel like it’s the same here in the Philippines. For many Filipinos here, depression is not a disease, it’s just being a drama queen. I’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression and I never wrote about it on social media and on blog posts. I know the struggle you were talking about and I’m glad that you wrote about this.
    Hugs.

  3. ninafashionlife says:

    This really touched me as I struggled with OCD which is an anxiety disorder which causes me to be really depressed. Growing up in a strict European household, my parents also do not believe in or understand mental disorders. Back home, the only thing that’s recognized is something really severe such as schizophrenia let’s say. Things like depression, bipolar or OCD do not exist. I did not even know what was happening with me.
    I have a degree in psychology. As I was in university I realized what was wrong and was able to seek help. My parents are wonderful people and the best parents one could have but being so old fashioned and having these type of morals I was told don’t give me that North American crap ! or my second favourite is… Nina are you bored? Go get a hobby and occupy yourself. You’ll see how fast anxiety and depression goes.
    Well I wasn’t bored. I got help myself and every day is a learning lesson. OCD will never go away. Some days are harder than others and it’s a life long struggle but even if those closest to you don’t understand, I realized they don’t have to get it, it’s up to you to help yourself and give yourself the best life you can.

  4. sintek says:

    I am so sorry for the way your peers and family have treated you with your illness. ALL of you, including those who didn’t post here. Black culture needs to wake up, all those old people who think jesus will cure everything need to wake up, all those deniers who think prayer will help us feel better and cure us, they too need to wake up! Mental illness, depression, many other illness’s won’t go away without help. I hope that you can get the word out to others who live in agony with their families who believe their illness can be cured by the bible — it’s really a travesty ! The bible is not different than “lord of the rings”.. it’s a story, fiction, and belief albeit can help some people to get to a place in their lives where they might be better off, can not cure disease or mental illness. Ask for help. Do not listen to those who deny you help and direction in seeking a pain free life. They will only help to harm you. I know, I found my son dead with a shotgun between his legs 3 yrs ago, and believe you me, I’m never going to be the same mother again, to anyone. Peace and love.

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