All day I kept seeing #RIPYusuf on my timeline, of course I wanted to see how this person passed and it broke my heart to see that he committed suicide. Apparently this young man knew a lot of people and touched, helped and inspired many. Seeing “RIP” tweets from various celebrities along with pictures of him and it was always something inspiring in the description.
I did, however, see in a picture of him, that even though he was smiling, his eyes told a completely different story. As a black woman with depression trust me when I tell you I can put the biggest smile on my face, laugh the heartiest laugh and inside I’m in torment. I know those “signs” all too well.
“The eyes are the windows to your soul”
Back in August of 2012, a well-known celebrity, Chris Lighty committed suicide. He also inspired others, he was a hip hop mogul, started careers of well-known musicians. Now, while I personally didn’t know him, I bring him up to mention that you never know what’s going on in someone’s HEAD. They can be surrounded by friends, have a beautiful woman by their side, successful and still just dealing with who knows what upstairs (brain).
The word “therapy” is a word that is hardly used in the black community. We’re taught when we are young to not tell anyone your business. Whatever is going on within your family stays within the four walls. It was never discussed. Secrets. You HAVE to keep the secrets. While I am not a black man, “the mottos” are “MAN UP” and “MEN DON’T CRY” and that’s that.
As you get older you keep things bottled up inside because you don’t want anyone in your business. So going to therapy and talking about your problems, your issues, is NOT going to happen. Now all that anger, sadness, depression, etc is bottled up inside of you and you don’t show any feelings. BUT what you WILL do is find another alternative to let all of that out. That’s where self medication comes into play.
Risky sexual behavior
There are so many ways to self medicate to not feel. Self medication is used to not feel anything, to make yourself void of feelings. Only problem is…those feelings will come back eventually. It dulls the senses, so whatever your issue was, you’ve forgotten about it…for now.
There’s also staying so busy/active that there is no time for you to think about your issues. Working more than 40 hours a week. Offering to stay at work longer, bringing work home. Playing video games all day, you can’t think of anything else because it will mess you up game wise. Running. Some people use running as an “excuse”. They’re running away from their problems. Focusing on running, music blasting in your ears, you’re in another world. We have a way of crying/screaming out for help in silence and no one will ever know about it until…well, you know.
Now, I am in NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM SAYING THAT’S WHAT THOSE TWO PEOPLE DID. Let’s just get that out the way.
Mental health in the black community is needed. It’s important, but we have to get past the stigma of not telling people our business. You asking for and getting help is not being weak. Do you know how strong you have to be to know that you’re fucked up, can’t take it anymore and actually SEEK HELP? Pretty damn strong. Do you know how GOOD it feels to let go of a secret that’s been kept bottled up inside for years? decades?
Well let me tell you it feels AMAZING to let that weight off your shoulders, to put your bag down, even if for a second. Those bags are heavy. Understand that therapy isn’t a quick fix, there are going to be times when you HATE your therapist, that you wish you never went and you vow that you will never return, but you will go back…trust me. Even if you sit in silence.
There has to be a piece of you that is TIRED of putting on this facade of “I’m so happy “, when deep down inside you are angry at the world. Or you wish you weren’t even living anymore because all of this pain will end. You say to yourself you wouldn’t be upset if you didn’t wake up the next morning. You can’t live like that…actually that’s not even living, you’re existing in the world until you cease to exist. What kind of life is that? Don’t you WANT to be legitimately happy?
I’m not here telling you that if you go to therapy a few times you’re floating on cloud nine and you’re happy and that’s that. NO, it doesn’t work that way. Along with therapy, YOU have to change the way YOU handled things in the past and try a different way for the present. Maybe it’s count to 10 before blowing up at someone. I.DON’T.KNOW. but I *DO* know that therapy has saved lives.
Therapy has saved MY life. Therapy has saved other people that I know, INCLUDING black men.
As long as you have a desire to want to get better, become a better man, father, brother, friend, there’s hope for you. You deserve happiness. No one was put on this earth to become a miserable fuck. NO ONE. So why should you front like you’re happy, when inside you wish you were dead? Don’t you want to be actually happy and living a life with your friends and family? Those are questions that you need to pose to yourself.
Stop letting the stigmas of “keeping things to yourself” and “manning up” ruin your chance at happiness and PEACE.
There IS NO PEACE if you’re wishing you were dead, hating your life, angry, drunk every night, etc. You can’t tell me that putting on a front is better than being at peace with yourself, living your life and being happy. Everything that’s happened in your life, no matter how shitty, can NOT be changed. There is no time machine. You can, ONE DAY, be at peace with the shitty hand you were dealt in this game called “Life”.
But guess what, you’re not going to be at peace if you’re not dealing with it in SOME kind of way. So I implore you to deal with whatever you’re going through, if it stems from your childhood or whenever, with a professional. Therapists aren’t there to judge, they listen and ask questions. Above all, they keep it to themselves, Confidentiality is KEY when it comes to therapists. Check your medical insurance provider to see if behavioral health is covered under your insurance, there may or may not be a co-pay.
Stop self-medicating and get help. Suicide is NEVER the answer, even though it may seem to be the ONLY way out at a certain point, it’s not. It CAN get better with time.
If you need help call 1-800-273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Nothing is worth ending your life over. NOTHING.
Even though I wrote this article for black men specifically, anyone can benefit from this no matter the gender or race. I implore you to share this blogpost to everyone you know, social media, family and friends. The stigma in the black community MUST change!
If you’d like to talk about this more, in a private setting do not hesitate to email Dean(at)VixenVarsity.com