In the world today: Suicide

Suicide is at an all time high and it’s so tough to think about. We skirt around mental health all the time like it’s a joke. We constantly label people, places, things as crazy or bipolar or schizophrenic because for some reason mental health is a punchline and it’s totally not. 

In the last week two megastars have committed suicide. Two people who you would think would have it all and be happy. They were successful. They had fame, fortune, a platform to create and be seen, to change the world one episode or handbag at a time. Though I’ve never watched or read any of Anthony Bourdain’s stuff I clearly knew who he was. As for Kate Spade, I’ve been obsessing over her fine china, clothes, shoes, bags and everything else she made for years. They were two very knowable people. 

So why were they so sad? Why did they choose to end it all? 

The sad thing is that we don’t really know. I cried today when I found out about Anthony, not because I knew him, but because I was sad that something took him that low where he took his own life. I cried because I could identify with being that low. 

I remember being so sad and so lonely. I remember sitting in this place, day in and day out, feeling like there was nothing to live for. Feeling like I had nobody who loved me or even cared about my well being. There was so much happening to and around me and I just felt lost and hopeless. I was diagnosed at a young age with anxiety and bipolar disorder but no one took it seriously. In the Black community you’re just bad or in need of a beating to set you right. 

Nobody saw me. Nobody saw my pain. Nobody saw how utterly alone I felt or how unworthy I felt to even be alive. 

I wanted out

And so I tried. 

Multiple times. 

Waking up after each attempt was probably the most painful aspect of it all because I couldn’t understand why God would allow me to stay on a planet that I clearly wasn’t wanted on. For a long time my heart broke every single time I opened my eyes. 

Every morning that I had to wake up and put on the facade of happiness. Every time I had to act indifferent to the fact that nobody saw me. Every time I went looking for love and validation only to be rejected. 

I died a little inside. 

I’ve grown though. I’ve become better. Stronger. I have my battle scars to remind me that I’m a fighter and that I have a purpose and that the Divine just needed me to find it. That’s not always the case for everyone though. 

THE STATISTICS 

A lot of people get angry at those who commit suicide. I don’t. I know what it’s like to live in the darkness. In 2016 alone an estimated 16.2 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 6.7% of all U.S. adults. According to the National Institute of Mental Health in 2016, an estimated 10.3 million U.S. adults aged 18 or older had at least one major depressive episode with severe impairment. This number represented 4.3% of all U.S. adults. And these are only the people who actually talk about their problems. However this number does not mean that they all received help. According to the same report 37% of adults with major depressive episodes did not receive help. 

Millions of people are walking around depressed and even worse, untreated. And the numbers show. We notice celebrity suicides more because they impact us hard. These people are super visible and often times are who many adoring fans aspire to be like. But the hard truth is that suicide is ripping apart lives daily. 

According to CNN “The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a survey Thursday showing suicide rates increased by 25% across the United States over nearly two decades ending in 2016. Twenty-five states experienced a rise in suicides by more than 30%, the government report finds.”

According to statistics on afsp.gorg, the official website for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

(1) Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death

(2) Each year 44,965 Americans die by suicide

(3) For every (1) successful suicides there are 25 suicide attempts

(4) On average there are 123 suicides per day

People are unhappy. People are struggling. So what can we do? 

For those of you not faced with the struggle, pay attention. Reach out to your friends. Reach out to your loved ones. Check on the strong ones. Check on the ones you know are struggling. Listen. I mean really truly listen. Don’t judge. Don’t just suggest prayer. Please don’t suggest just “sucking it up”. If they could, believe me they would. Most importantly, just be there. 

If you’re going through, know that you aren’t alone. There are other people who know exactly how you feel. You are never alone. Know that you are loved and that the world is a better place with you in it. Talk to someone. Don’t be afraid. There are people all over the world who will listen. Build a support system. Those will be the people who will help you get through your bitter days and celebrate you on your best. 

And lastly.

DON’T GIVE UP

 

If you or anyone you know needs help please utilize the resources below:

Psychologytoday.com : online directory of therapists across the nation

.Goodtherapy.org   : online directory of therapists across the nation

Therapyforblackgirls.com : online directory of therapists across the nation

.Herefortexas.com : online directory of therapists and providers across Texas for mental health and addiction. 

Therapyhive.com : online directory of therapists and psychiatrists in the Dallas, Texas area

Melaninandmentalhealth.com : online directory of minority therapists across the Houston, TX area (including Bellaire, Sugarland, Cypress) and a few other cities and states 

Openpathcollective.org : online directory of therapists across the nation that offer services from $30 – $50 a session

Betterhelp.com : online counseling service

Talkspace.com : online counseling service

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255, press 1. Or text 838255

Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas: 214-828-1000, available 24/7

Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741741 for free, 24/7 crisis support across the US. 

I’d like to take this moment to thank my amazing support team, my cousin who crafted this list of services and my partner in life who has seen the deepest depths of my despair and reached into the abyss to pull me out. I love you all. 

Living life committed

Over the course of the last few days I have been feeling the effects of overwhelming emotions and realizations. One of the many realizations that I have come to is that over the last few years of my life I have not been living committed.

But what does that mean?

In life we commit to people, places, things, choices, life paths (I think you get it at this point) and we move forward, ever persistent in obtaining those goals. Steadfast. Sometimes unnervingly dedicated to the end game in mind.

I remember that commitment. That drive pushed me through high school with honors. It helped me through many nights were I fell asleep on my textbooks, often times waking up with the pen still in my hand trying to write and a note card stuck to my face from the drool (I drool horribly when I’m exhausted).

That commitment pushed me through college when I had no help from family, emotional or financially, I was the sickest I had ever been and was working an obscene amount of jobs while having a full course load and a somewhat consistent social life. I was committed because I had a goal in mind. And even though I crossed that finished line broke, busted, disgusted, broken (I cried every day during the last 6 weeks or so of my final semester) and mentally fatigued I made it.

And then I was lost

I had accomplished it. The goal. Graduating. I was done. I followed the road map. The road map got me nowhere. The road map failed me in fact. I had no job prospects. I never had the opportunity to attend internships because I had to actually make money. I had no real connections. There were no jobs (and when I say no jobs I mean the ones worth taking because I now have 80K plus in freaking student loans) my brain and will power were depleted; I really had nothing left. So I started existing.

Drifting almost. I needed direction and the point that everyone was driving home was that I needed to make money. I needed a job. It didn’t matter what job just a job. So I looked. I only had my college work history of working retail and hotel night audit jobs to go on and that’s exactly what I ended up doing. I took a job at Bed Bath & Beyond for $8.00 an hour even though less than a year before I graduated with two degrees from Baylor University.

The drive was money

I needed to work though. I had to get out on my own two feet. Being the oldest female child in a black family doesn’t allow for the liberty to stay at home while you figure it out and get it together. It just doesn’t work that way for us and we spend most of our time being hardened and taught the lesson that we had to get it for ourselves. I knew I had to leave. I knew for any peace to exist I had to be in my own space because the scrutiny would always be there if I was at home. I knew they wanted me out.

This honestly led to a string of jobs that I never actually wanted. I took a night audit job at a hotel and between there and Bed Bath & Beyond I worked about 80 hours a week. Sleeping on the train because I didn’t have enough time to go home and sleep. Changing in the bathrooms at each job to be in the appropriate uniforms. Not eating because it was more beneficial to sleep. Six years and three job changes later I’m sitting at a job I hate, literally wishing I could die because this is not the life I wanted and feeling so utterly and totally confused and unsatisfied. Annoyed that this toxic feeling is what is pushed as “the best to expected” in life.

I made the choices I made

I can’t be mad at anyone though. I made the choices I made. Never did I truly stop to check in with myself. I let the fear of  lack of money and survival push me in a direction that I knew, that I was fully aware that I did not want to go. I sat passively by while every dream I ever had was reduced and tossed into the land of improbability. I didn’t commit to me.

Now here I am, at a time in my life where I need to be fully committed to myself and I don’t know how. I was let go from my job at the end of last year and I know that one of the biggest lessons that I am supposed to be learning right now is how to be committed to myself, my dreams, my goals. Yet, if I am wholly honest, I’m at a loss. I wake up every morning and I struggle. I have no outline. I have no blueprint. Not short on supply of dreams, goals and aspirations though. Those are there everyday crushing me. Taunting me from a distance because I’m unsure of how to move. For myself. As I’ve spent most of my life moving for everyone else.

What stifles commitment is fear

The underlying reason for lack of commitment is fear. It doesn’t matter if its commitment to a relationship, a business, a weight loss goal the underlying problem stopping people from moving forward is fear. Fear of failure, and often times fear of success. My partner and I were talking about my fears and he told me that I “can’t let my fears stop me from greatness” and that’s what is happening.

I’m afraid and it has caused a state of paralysis. I’m standing in the middle of a room attempting the balancing act of life with multiple plates in the air, but they’re just there. They aren’t spinning, rotating or crashing. They’re suspended high above as I gaze up with anxious anticipation. Waiting for them to fall. Too afraid to intervene with the process. Even more afraid of being surrounded by the deafening clatter of the dishes crashing to the earth. At this point I’ve kind of sat down on the floor, legs crossed, elbows resting on the thighs, head resting on the hands waiting for the climatic conclusion of this life.

Every “tragic” story has a turnaround

I can’t live like that anymore though. Those plates are important. They represent my blog, my brand, my business, my mental health, my physical health, my finances, my spiritual health, my relationships. I have to stand up and pull each glistening plate out a stasis and toss them back into rotation. I have to find myself committed to life again. Just this time life on my terms.

So I’m off on the adventure. Tackling each layer of change as I go.

Until next time,

Dominique Nicole

Are you struggling with being committed to life?