Listen to this story
It started in 2018. It came in slowly like a small tide at the feet. I had been unceremoniously released from my college speaking agency after six years. It was abrupt and cruel and affected me financially. A few months later, my summer was cut short when the man I loved moved away for a new job, a new future and new uncertainty for us. At this point, I was waist-deep in the water. Suicidal ideations slowly crashed against my body, almost playfully, almost without understanding the consequences of being alone in the water for too long.
By October, we were officially going our separate ways, and within a week or two of that happening, my cousin died.
Not just any cousin, the cousin that was my first best friend, she and I weren’t even a year apart in age and were even closer in spirit; our childhoods’ greatest memories intertwined like a friendship lanyard and a pinky promise.
By December, the darkness claimed me. I would wake up at 6 am to drive an hour in the dark to a temp agency job that paid me in dust and made me feel even more dispensable than my agents. By the time I returned home, it would be dark again. There was an extra layer of guilt, knowing that the same blood that was pumping through the veins of someone begging to survive was in mine, not really caring if I did. I used to tell people that depression was like being in a pitch-black room with no light and slowly depleting oxygen, and I had to find the door before the oxygen ran out. When my cousin died, there was no door; my sadness had no bottom.
I was fighting hard, and in July of 2019, I found this amazing therapist who offered me pro-bono help because I was tired of crying every day. Five days after seeing her for the first time, I was involved in a car accident while driving a rideshare. I could no longer work and spent months in physical therapy for a case that is still in litigation to this day. I at least survived the repossession of my other car (that wasn’t even operable) and the foreclosure of my house, only by the sole grace of my mother. My mother couldn’t swim, but she still saved me from completely drowning.
People are always shocked at how sharp my memory is. I can tell you that Regina Bell was playing on the radio on my first day of school and that it was raining. I cannot tell you much about 2019. There are spots in my memory besides the anger, I remember that. I remember the lack of care I showed myself. I barely showered, and I stayed in bed all day, but many nights I didn’t sleep. I remember the gaunt and how a woman praised me for being “so skinny.” I had gotten so small that I stopped weighing myself because I did not want to know anymore. I know I still had friends, even when I isolated myself. I know I still went places. I know that I tried hard, and sometimes putting on a brave face was the only thing I had left. I see the pictures, so I know that it happened. But I look back at those same pictures, and I can see the death in my eyes. I never lied about my depression. Just no one ever bothered to ask, even when they did know what I was going through.
Suicidal ideations are an interesting thing because they are just that, an idea, like a “what if?” It wasn’t that I wanted to die. It was that I did not care about living anymore. Living was f-cking sucking, and no matter how active of an imagination I thought I had, I could not fathom an existence that would be worthy of a future. I had no career, no love, no car, no money, and barely a house.
There was literally nothing to live for.
With the recent passing of DJ tWitch by suicide, many people couldn’t understand because he seemed so happy days before his death. I was not taught to frown in pictures, no matter how sad I was. I held babies, I made memories (that I cannot remember), and I tried… hard.
The thing about “check-in with your friends,” is that people knew what I was going through, and I wasn’t quiet about my struggles. The best I was met with was, “have you tried prayer?” Or “you have to think your way out of it.” Praying to the same God to take away the pain he caused me when he took my cousin away, but not her pain, seemed a bit futile and backward, and thinking myself out of a depression I never thought myself into was quite possibly something that I could only smile at because of how dumb and dismissive it sounded to me. I was met with a Black-ass reaction of ignoring mental health or thinking that depression had to look a way for people to acknowledge it, even when I was displaying all the classic symptoms. I was angry. I wasn’t showering. My hair stopped growing. I was wasting away. I was dying in front of people’s eyes, and they still couldn’t see it, except my mother, but it was too much for her even to understand because depression is complex. It’s not something that the person who’s experiencing it can even rationalize. I could not rationalize that years later, I would be alive, let alone writing this.
Depression strangles you. It takes the life out of you long before you finish the job. I’m sure if I would’ve committed suicide, there would’ve been someone saying, “she looked so happy,” even when it was obvious that I wasn’t.
My greatest accomplishment in 2019 was making it to 2020.
I don’t and won’t ever consider myself any braver than someone who didn’t survive their suicide. I think of depression as cancer. A slow and silent disease, slowly taking a hold of your body and eating away at your insides. Some people don’t survive depression and everyone else who does is simply in remission, with the possibility of it coming back at any time.