This year my mother committed suicide. As much as that statement shocks you, it still shocks me to this day. 2015 has been a year of great loss for me and I am coming to terms with how much of a blessing it has been to me as well.
As a survivor of someone who commits suicide, you are left with the constant noise of your own brain. You question, and relive every moment leading up to that point, scrutinizing everything you could have done to prevent it. You battle with guilt, depression, immense confusion, and even anger and sometimes, abandonment. It has been 8 months since I have lost my mother, and for the past 8 months I have felt like I am falling and haven’t hit the ground. This has changed me. I have taken a huge break from friends, the internet, social activities, music (one of my biggest joys) and just, really living in general. I am much quieter these days, and sometimes I think I spend hours and hours in a reflective state. I currently struggle with maintaining my joy. My emotions are worn on my sleeve most days, but I try my hardest to conceal them, especially when I am at work, or around my friends. I am realizing that I can’t do that anymore, and if you are experiencing a loss, I also encourage you not to fight what you are feeling. Feel everything as it comes. It is unhealthy to bottle up your grief. A part of loving is recognizing the hurt when you feel it. I love my mother so much, and it kills me that I can’t see her anymore. Losing her has helped me realize the strength of God within my own life. It is the only explanation I have for being able to get up every morning and continue living.
One reason I am writing this is because I think it is important that we understand mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of and is a diagnosis that is out of our control. You can control being schizophrenic just as much as you can control being diagnosed with prostate cancer, and I want to explore that dialogue within our community, further. After my mother’s passing, I learned she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I believe she kept this from me because she was ashamed. I also think mental illness is a taboo topic, especially in the Black Community, and for my mother I think she may have felt that this wasn’t a big deal, and something she could handle alone. I think it is common for teachings within the Black home to be laced with the messages of strength, pushing through, doing what you have to do, and pride — sometimes at our own expense. I cannot claim to know everything, but I do believe messages of love, understanding, compassion and taking care of one’s health — mentally, physically and spiritually — should be equally pushed. We are a strong people by nature, and sometimes (in my opinion) we do whatever we have to do to avoid any appearance of weakness. That is not human. That is an immense amount of pressure to have weighing on you. We have to love ourselves enough to be human. It is ok to be good to yourself. And part of that requires that you invest in your mental stability. Talk to the people you love. In my case I wish, so much, that my mother knew she could come to me about what pained her. I wish she knew that she had a place of love and understanding in me, through God, where she could be herself and unashamed of her mental illness. It is important that we cultivate a sense of openness and a place free of judgment within our families. Be human with one another, and be strong enough to fight these battles together. Don’t ignore them, hide them from your family, or sweep them under the rug. The issues will still exist. Seek the help you or your loved one needs.
A piece (peace) of mind is something everyone deserves and I want to encourage us all to pursue it actively. I also believe happiness is a conscious decision that requires effort. It is easy to let your circumstances effect your outlook on life negatively. But the reward of doing the opposite seems to be the way we should live life. I don’t have anything figured out, but I do know my mother would not want me to live life drowning in misery, sorrow, or letting feelings of depression and loss consume me.
I am currently on the pursuit of real happiness and growth and reclaiming my life. I owe it to her, but more importantly, I owe it to myself. It hasn’t been an easy journey, and by no means do I feel I’ve even began to make any substantial progress. Just recently, my relationship with one of my very best friends ended. I thought the L’s of the year were over until this happened. I’ll spare the details of the situation, but losing this person as my friend definitely equates to a huge void in my circle. On the the pain scale, I’d rank this right after losing my mother for shitiest parts of 2015, but I do believe the separation is necessary for my growth, their growth and our ultimate individual happiness. I will miss them entirely, but a part of loving is also being able to let go. Everything happens for a reason, and if that relationship was supposed to remain a part of my life, God will have to handle it. I’ve been faced with these kind of hard decisions and realizations a lot this year, and I am thankful God is teaching me, along the way.
I think it would be easy to stay sad, and depressed, but that would be a waste of the time God’s given me here in this realm. Sometimes life comes at you fast, and it is ultimately up to you to decide how to respond. I think writing this helped me get out some thoughts I’ve had, but I’m hoping it also helps you and encourages you to embark on the journey of figuring out your own issues. I am choosing to be happy and I hope you will make the decision to be as well.
I love you.