Help Almost Killed Me

Originally posted on: Curvy, Confident, & Nervous as Hell 

It was Thursday morning, and as usual Mrs. Vazquez pulled me out of my 2nd grade classroom to have a "chit chat". Honestly, I would have rather been doing my math assignment. I fidgeted with the ruffles on my blouse tugging on my sleeves hoping she didn't notice the cut marks on my wrist. I had just lost my oldest sister the Christmas before and at that age I didn't understand death or how the family dynamic would be impacted forever. She asked a bunch of questions, no my dad is not back at home, yes he does stop by. They argue, and fight sometimes he might force his way into the house, and mommy would always call the police. Yes I am sad about my sister dying (duh lady). Can I go back to class now?

Her kind eyes always looked sad knowing she wouldn't get much out of me, but I was not one to ever over share my family's business. As time passed, I suppressed much of my past in order to heal I suppose, attempting to erase memories by being involved in so many activities. Dance, acting, choir, volleyball, soccer, marching band, even tried out for basketball ( as if they would even let me be a manager)

Fast forward to college, it was like my past was haunting me. I started going to counseling on campus. Of course no one wants to tell their friends they're seeing a shrink, but I needed to know why these negative thoughts were back. For once I was one of the cool kids, liked, respected, and a party wasn't a party unless I was there. Ask about me, even now! Something was still not quite right. 

2013 was a year of great loss. My college roommate suddenly passed away and I drew closer and closer to alcohol and prescription drugs to ease the hurt. Three years later my dad passed away, I had not yet healed from either so I began seeing a therapist on a regular basis. My doctors all agreed it was time for me to be medicated for my condition. I wasn't sleeping, having night terrors, totally alienated myself from everything I loved. I couldn't face the world feeling this way. I began the medication and I had trouble adjusting. My sleep patterns were inconsistent so I was given Ambien, and an anti-anxiety/anti-depressant. I felt sick all the time, never wanted to go out, and no one really knew what I was going through. This was not a conversation I was wiling to have with many people. I'm the person who you will invite out, I'll think about it, say yes and then won't come. Sometimes leaving the house was too much, not having control is too much to bear when you're over anxious. My own mother wasn't even aware because I live a very private life.

I was on spring break this April when I had an anxiety attack while driving on the highway. I came home took my meds, and on the couch I stayed for 4 days. I felt like my body was holding me hostage. I was unable to get off the couch, phone calls went unanswered, and I definitely did not go outside. It was during that time I realized I was becoming addicted to being numb. It was in  that moment I decided to no longer take any medication to treat my anxiety.  My sleeping pills were the remedy to everything, and I can't lie, I miss being able to fall asleep in a dizzy state knowing I wouldn't hear or feel anything once I took them. Saying goodbye to them was like ending an abusive relationship. Mental health in the African American community is still seen as taboo. How is that possible when 6.8 million people that identify as African American suffer from some form of mental illness?? Here's my theory, as slaves we were strong, tolerant, and able to withstand the greatest pain that another human could inflict on another. Our mental health/self care was almost non existent. We were seen as animals who did not have the ability to think and feel per our Caucasian masters. Maybe this is why we try to hide what hurts us. Just my thoughts. I decided to put down the pills and embrace the practice of guided meditation, and daily exercise instead. It is difficult at times but I can do this. I looked in the mirror and decided I was worth fighting for. So to all my anxious friends take it one day at a time. Don't be afraid to speak your truth.

 I refuse to let the "help" kill me