“I made a plan to kill myself”, I said to the group. Not many faces looked up at me and those that did eyes were filled with horror. I was not surprised, this happens to me all the time. My honesty about my battles with taking my own life make people either uncomfortable or worried that one day I will have truly had enough. However, I must keep being honest, I must keep being real. Someone in that room who did not look up needed to know that I use to be exactly where they are in this very moment. In a world that fuels off the falsely portrayed lives on social media, it is important to me to continue to live in and speak on my truth. We see so many memes and blog posts that speak on mental health. The phrase “Check on your strong friend” pops up on my timeline at least once a day. Why are the strong ones still suffering in silence? Why are we not doing mental health check ins in our group chats? Who exactly is the strong friend? Let me answer this one, we all are. Opening your eyes in the morning and hopping out the bed is where the strength begins. Believe me I know! So whoever you are right now in this moment reading this , I hope you feel inspired to be honest about how you are feeling to at least one person you know cares about you and check in on at least one person you care about. It is time we start to put actions behind the memes and viral mental health videos. It is time to start the healing process in our homes and communities. It is TIME we TALK.
I had my most difficult battle with depression in the summer of 2016. I was extremely unhappy. I hated my job. The stress of caring for a child was taking a major toll on me psychologically. I often called my mother crying after my shifts and turned around to take a selfie in my scrubs to upload to Instagram. I began to have major shifts in my personal relationships that were extremely stressful. I was diagnosed with PCOS and left to face my biggest fear, infertility. I broke my foot and it still swells to this day. I, also, started to have extreme abdominal pain with no origin. My father gave me a bottle of pain killers and I started using them to sleep for 24hr increments. I didn’t want to get up. I was tired of my life. I was serious about not wanting to live it. I realized I had to do one of two things, create a new life or end it all. I decided to try both by moving to LA with the bottle of pain killers in my carry on so they could be all taken together once I got there.
There was a time I said I would never talk about the build up of pain that took me to that plan out of fear of the very reactions that I receive by just admitting the pain was there. But, I am so grateful to have found a reason to keep fighting that I have to share! I decided one week after moving to flush every pill down the toilet, and I laid there crying realizing that it was up to me to figure out the life that I wanted to live and then get there. I started my hunt for a therapist. I found a black OBGYN who found treatments for my PCOS. I went after the nursing specialty that took me away from patient bedside. I started blogging and writing. I started having mindful moments daily in order to operate with gratitude. I have done so much, but this is a journey. I will never stop working hard to get to a life that is so different from summer 2016 that I can not help but shed tears thinking of the beauty in my journey. Every moment clocked out of my job is a moment clocked into myself.
The reality is that everything we need we already have. We just have to increase our belief in self to see that it is all tangible. I was told I could not become a CDE until I worked at bedside for at least 10yrs. Less than 3yrs at bedside, here I am! I needed that shift to save my life. The love I needed came to me in some of the most beautiful friendships. The joy I needed showed itself in just taking a few moments to silence my thoughts and detach from the world around me to tap into my many reasons. So you see, all that you need mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, you have already! Find the faith to truly believe in self and start living intentionally. Talk to someone! Find a therapist! Start telling yourself exactly who you are even before you become that person, even if you do not fully believe it. Stare in your mirror and continue to say who you are until the tears are flowing. Say it until you believe. If you do not know where to start please feel free to use my top three daily affirmation sentences. “I AM ENOUGH.” “I DO ENOUGH.” “I HAVE ENOUGH.” These words are so powerful and before you know it you will have created additional sentences that’ll be all your own. Lastly, TALK TO SOMEONE!!!
It is so important that I talk about moments that make me feel not okay. It is even more important that I have people who genuinely listen and care. We will all have these moments and it is okay to not feel okay sometimes. In the moments that our therapist is unavailable and vibrations are low, we all need our village to step in. People need people! Here are some ways to improve how you respond when your people need you:
- Look at them, be sincere.
- Speak to them in a place of comfort and understanding, not fear.
- Allow them to tell you exactly what they want, do not immediately start asking them questions. Let them talk.
- Check on your people. I am not talking about @ them on social media, pick up the phone, tell them you care. Do not wait for them to come to you.
Depression looks like us. The strong friend looks like us. The strong friend is us. Be kind. Be open. Say “I love you” often. It is all of our jobs to create an environment that allows us to be comfortable saying that we need help. It is time we start to put actions behind the memes and viral mental health videos. It is time to start the healing process in our homes and communities. It is TIME we TALK.