-It’s the end of Suicide Awareness Month, and I couldn’t let this month past without posting this blog.
I started writing this piece back in June following the suicides of two pillars in the White community—Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. At the time there were a profusion of folks urging others to call suicide lines if they had experienced suicidal ideation. These suicides and call-to-actions made me feels particularly close to my own experiences with anxiety, depression, and suicide crisis lines.
In 2016, I experienced a tremendous loss. The loss caused a pain that excavated my body by divorcing my sanity from my humanity. Honestly, I still haven’t wholly healed from the experience. I’m still working through it, but at the time, I didn’t know how to grieve. Shit, I didn’t even know that I needed grievance in the first place. All I knew was that I was muddled with all sorts of feelings—from numbness to emotional distress. For weeks, depression kept me asleep all day and anxiety kept my ass up all night.
I was on winter break, during graduate school, and it was almost Christmas—the most wonderful time of the year. I, however, was clouded with misery. I spent the entire winter break sleeping, eating, watching Netflix, rinse, repeat. The only time I left the bed was to get food and use the bathroom. The red “black-out” curtains in the nook of my bedroom made it virtually impossible to discern the time of day. Not only did I lost track of time, but I also lost my sense of myself. When depression sits, it’s debilitating. I tried to keep myself busy doing all the things Solange suggested, “I slept it away. I sexed it away. I read it away.” I did not want to feel the pain. It was encroaching upon the holidays, and no one had called to check on me that entire break. I began to wonder how long it would take someone to notice I’d been missing.
On Christmas Eve, I need to go to sleep because I had an early flight to New Orleans, but that damn anxiety was keeping me awake. I had taken about four Melatonin and chugged a glass of whiskey, but it was 3:00 AM, and I still couldn’t fall asleep. Like I said, my anxiety loves to fuck with me at night. I’d convinced myself that no one wanted to see me, so who would care if I’ve missed my flight. (At the time, I didn’t particularly have strong relationships with my family and all my friends were visiting their family.)
My thoughts grew darker, and my chest swelled with anxiety. I was afraid of my own cynicism, and my thoughts didn’t quite sit well with me. I knew that I did not want to die, but I also knew that I didn’t want to feel the pain soaring throw my body. I googled the number for the National Suicide Hotline, but I couldn’t bring myself to call. The lump of anxiety that sat in my throat would not allow me to speak. My personified depression told me that my issues weren’t “National Suicide Hotline” worthy because that hotline was intended for folks with larger issues. In addition, it felt too corny to call the Hotline and talk to someone—mostly because I already knew it was a bad idea.
I eventually stumbled the number to text the Crisis Hotline. I was skeptical, but I was more afraid of what might happen if I didn’t text the number. Within 3-4 text exchanges, I began spilling all of my feels. I don’t remember what I told the person or how they responded to me. All I remember is texting and crying. Texting and crying. I texted and cried until the tears in my eyes finally extinguished the fire that was burning in my chest. I didn’t even catch the crisis counselor’s name. It could have been an automated robot thingy for all I know, but it doesn’t matter because I’m here to tell you my story.
In light of the high-profile suicides and Suicide Awareness Month, there is a strong push toward folks calling the National Suicide Hotline. Well, I’m writing to acknowledge and affirm those of us who can’t call. If you’re feeling brave, then the Crisis text line can be just as effective. Texting strangers not your thing? Cool. The “not OK” app is a free mental health service that allows you to taps a “notOK” button which sends a text message to pre-selected contacts. The pre-selected contacts will get an alert along with your current GPS location. I think that this app would have increased my likelihood of reaching out to friends and confidants because I would not have had to communicate my exact issue. (BTW, this app is Black-owned.) Understand that crisis lines are for emergencies and are not a replacement for therapy. You can find a licensed online therapist at Talkspace. Similarly, you can find a licensed therapist on the Therapy for Black Girls Directory. However, I know that therapy and counseling can be financially inaccessible. I have always found wellness by being in community other authentic Black women. Here is a list of digital communities and resources that are managed by Black Feminist Scholars over at Cite-A-Sista.
From one Black girl to another, I hope you find the healing we need. Life is process and the magic is in the process. Ase.