What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?
I have struggled with my mental health just about my entire life. I grew up being bullied heavily. It caused me to hate myself and the literal dark skin I was in. I thought I was ugly and wasn’t meant for life on this earth. Why wouldn’t I believe it—my peers were telling me this every single day. The bullying was so bad, that I was beaten with a baseball bat and thrown in the trash can, and told I was too ugly to live.
Even today, I struggle from time to time with loving myself. When I met real friends in college, they poured into me and really made me see the value in my life. They loved me, and I loved them back. For years I was on the right track in regard to my mental health. I had found the right antidepressants to aid in mood stabilization and anxiety, and I was really doing a great job at utilizing my coping skills.
That was until it became unbearable at work. It was bad. I wouldn’t wish those conditions on my worst enemy. In the midst of those issues, a tumor was found on my ovaries (the first of many). After having surgery (again, the first of many), my doctor shared that I would probably never be able to have children. I was devastated. I began to spiral. Then one day, I packed up my apartment, wrote notes to my family, took some pills, then called my mom to tell her I loved her.
That call saved my life. Had I not called to share that I was struggling, I wouldn’t be here today. I will never forget the pain in my mother’s voice to hear her child struggling. I never want to hear that again. She is my why. She is why I fight every day. And even though we are thousands of miles apart, I carry her with me, always.
What resources have helped you to address this challenge?
I have regularly seen a therapist since middle school. Talking with my family and having an accountability partner who pays attention when I seem withdrawn has also helped.
Based on your experience, how can we work to build resilience in ourselves, our loved ones, and in our communities to better face life’s challenges?
We have to dismantle the stigma associated with mental health. More people would be willing to share their struggles if they weren’t worried about being judged or treated negatively.
What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?
I can’t just make myself feel better. It’s not a light switch I can turn back on. Stop minimizing my experiences but support and continue to encourage me.