Earlier this month, a fellow afroblogger Makaitah wrote a piece https://makaitahrogue.wordpress.com/2021/09/20/this-maybe-goodbye/ that had the whole community stretching their usual limits to reach out to her. We later had a club house session and in summary I applaud her courage, her ability to be so authentically honest. She encourages everyone of us to tell our own stories.
Every September 10th, the world celebrates World Suicide Prevention Day a day organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO). This particular year, the theme centered on “Creating hope through action,” reflecting on the need for collective, action to address this urgent public health issue.
Personally I feel like this is an area we all choose to ignore mostly because for most of our faiths, suicide is condemned and yet its not an issue that can be completely ignored. Many of us have thought about it and in an era where Mental Health is being highlighted, we cannot rule Suicide prevention out.
My first encounter with a suicide attempt was when one of my younger siblings was in S.6 and Dad got a call from the school to pick him because he has attempted to kill himself. It perplexed me so much. How does one not want to live? How hard can it be? I felt unappreciated for all the times I’d been there for this person but also that they didn’t value us enough. Little did I know that I would one day fall victim.
So last year I had a mental breakdown. I was tired. My life had lost meaning. I felt worthless. I felt like I didn’t deserve the next breath and yet I allowed my body to keep moving. So one day as I drove home approaching a bridge, minimal traffic to imply I was probably driving at 100kph. I needed to get home but suddenly a reckless thought struck me. A thought so welcome, one that warmed my insides.
Why don’t you let go of the steering wheel and see where you end up. You’d go over the bridge and the car will probably roll over a couple of times and you’ll either die or suffer broken bones and a lot of pain. Both options gave me satisfaction. I mulled them over and suddenly let go of the wheel and allowed the thrill of what was coming to consume me. At the point when I almost crashed over, I swerved back and had more encouraging thoughts run through my mind. The one thing that held me back is the fact that I haven’t had CHILDREN yet! Just that! I recall coming out of this ordeal and trying to find a sperm donor so I could have a child. Some people turned me down out rightly and later I was reminded to hold onto God’s plan.
I also remember that a stranger came into my life because they’d had a dream about the pain I was going through and they held my hand through that period. After they got the inkling I had healed, they slipped out again. This reminds me of the phrase, “God works in mysterious ways.” It was so strange how the person knew exactly what I was going through and where all the pain was coming from. They checked on me daily and after about a month, I heard from them no more. I even asked God why but clearly their journey in my life had ended.
I’ve come to realize that a lot of this lies in us holding back. it lies in us hoarding our pain and living in the notion that we are strong. Aside from the fact that I cry easily, most people say I have a macho persona and truthfully I’m such a Sanguine. I’m always asking my friends where the fight is so that I defend them. We however forget that we too need help. Challenge is we see no solace out there, there isn’t hope for us. Being an almost first born taught me to be on the receiving end of everyone’s burdens and no one to turn to with my own. So we keep everything close to our chests and only too late let it out in extremes.
I believe that somewhere out there lies one confidant, it could be your best friend, a professional therapist, a stranger and God. Acknowledge that you could be a victim too. When life is overwhelming, find an outlet, maybe in speaking to someone or expending your energies in an activity you enjoy; you could journal, paint or blog but also just focusing on the now; say living through this day only and not thinking about tomorrow or next week or next 10 years.
To you out there, be courageous, do not be afraid to tell your story, you could be the door to someone’s healing process but most importantly yours. There is nothing to be ashamed of in helping your self or your mental health.