I wish mental illness was treated more like that…an illness.

My anxiety is as chronic as your back pain.

My depression is as terminal as your cancer.

My internal demons have just as much as potential to kill me as any other disease.

It almost did.I can remember moments of me crying out and pleading with God to take my life away. I couldn’t do it myself. I was taught suicide was a sin. I feared if I took my own life it would negate my salvation and I would live in hell for an eternity. So, I asked God to kill me. I believed life was too much to bear.

It doesn’t stop there.

I remember hating to look at myself in the mirror. I cried whenever I saw my reflection. I hated the girl in the mirror and I was certain everyone else did too.

It doesn’t stop there.

There are times I want to stay inside and avoid everyone. I dreaded coming outside and being in public. Whenever I walked into a room, I would fill with anxiety. I was convinced that nobody liked me, which wasn’t based on any actual evidence. Nonetheless, a sense of panic would swell within me. At that point, I just wanted to flee to the deepest and darkest depths of earth to hide.

It doesn’t stop there.

I often lie in bed tossing and turning for hours as my anxiety intensifies. It overwhelms me to a point where I’m paralyzed. Whatever tasks I was worrying about doing I couldn’t do them because I was too nervous to function. I often have to spend minutes or hours calming myself down to proceed with my day.

It doesn’t stop there.

Often I don’t have the mental and physical strength to carry on with life, but it doesn’t stop because you’re mentally ill.

I can’t call into work sick because my depression and anxiety are on overdrive. So, I press on begrudgingly.

It doesn’t stop there.

I can recall my first panic attack. I was convinced I was dying. It was my junior year in college. I remember walking into my dorm with a tight chest. I couldn’t breathe , my chest ached and my heart raced. I thought I was having a heart attack, but I brushed it off. I figured I was too young to have one and these symptoms were also very similar to having an asthma attack. When I got back to my room, the feeling intensified. At that point, I was certain I was indeed having a heart attack. So, I went back to the front desk and asked for emergency help. Then, the EMTs came to my room. They checked my oxygen and vitals. That’s when I overheard one whisper “she’s having a panic attack.” Little did I know, it wouldn’t be my last. 

It doesn’t stop there.

I remember my mentors intervening and telling me I couldn’t avoid counseling any longer. It was the spring of 2014. I was 24. I felt out of control. I felt like I was going crazy. I cried uncontrollably almost every day . They said I needed to seek therapy for my depression and anxiety and fast. Leading up to this moment, I encountered a lot of hardships over the past three years. I had trouble getting my foot in broadcasting as a reporter. I lost a job and was unemployed for about a year. I also was overworking myself in a position that I hated just to survive. I convinced myself I was a failure. I hated that it came to a point where I had to go get help for my mental illness. I dislike I couldn’t handle it myself. I despised the thought that people would know and think I was weak. I convinced myself I could be strong and overcome it. I couldn’t. I didn’t.

So, I humbled myself and went to counseling. It was my deepest, darkest secret. Every Friday, I snuck out to meet with my counselor Sarah for six months. It was the best decision I made. I learned so much. It truly helped.

A year later, I humbled myself again and finally admitted I needed an anti-depressant to manage symptoms. It was another good decision.

There’s a lot of stigma about mental health especially in the black community.

My cry alone in the dark was muffled by the sounds of my voice saying I was OK.

My anxiety and depression were masked by my smile. They were hidden behind the façade that I had my life all together. I wouldn’t dare let anyone know I was struggling.

Now, I am.   I’m letting you know that it’s OK to be not OK as cliché as that may sound.

It’s OK to be broken.

Your mental wellbeing is just as important as any other aspect of your health.

No one is invincible. No one is immune from the trials and tribulations of life.

As Christians, we’re told God heals all. He does, but He often sends healing in the form of others.

Go get help. It may change your life. It may save your life.

It did for mine.

This is Love Transformed.

Resources:

If you and anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

For more resources about suicide, visit: http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Check out more of my posts on Love Transformed.