BRONX, NY- I woke up Friday morning the same way I usually did. After going through my normal morning routine (shower, oil pulling, getting dressed, etc.), I check my phone to see what the news had to offer. To my surprise, I saw that Anthony Bourdain, chef and storyteller, had committed suicide. My heart rate accelerated with the realization that someone else had lost their battle with their mental monsters within the same week Kate Spade had taken her own life. This of course, does not account for those people whose names won't appear in the media for the same reason.
Suicide has become a growing problem in the United States. According to CNN, a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that "suicide rates have increased by 25% across the US over nearly two decades ending in 2016. Twenty- five states experienced a rise in suicides by more than 30%." With these numbers on the rise, what else could be done to help those struggling with mental illness? Why are these issues not explored more in depth?
It can be scary to talk about suicide. As someone who battles both depression and anxiety, the topic can be overwhelming to discuss with loved ones. I never want to scare anyone with my dark thoughts or have them watch my every move like a surveillance camera. Sometimes just being heard is more than enough. When I first spoke to my husband and best friend about my depression, they both asked;
"Have you ever thought about suicide?"
It took a lot for me to admit that I had a few times. When my mind travels to that dark place, ending my life seemed like the "best" way to make all my problems go away. Anxiety heightened all those negative emotions for me to the point where I cried uncontrollably and screamed out in anger. My mental monsters hit me hard with the same comments;
You are not worth it.
Stop being a burden to others. They have their own problems.
You are a waste of space.
No one cares enough about you.
You are not loved.
I cannot speak for others on how they handle their struggles, but being heard was the best thing my husband and best friend had done for me that day. They have been my biggest support in making sure I get through each day with a little more confidence. I am not saying confronting my monsters are easy. I still have days where I just want to stay in bed under a blanket and cry myself to sleep. My anxiety takes over at times, and I cry out in pain, sometimes for no reason at all. It frustrates me to not have control over my emotions, but holding it in would be much worse.
There are other methods that help me when my monsters attack. I write in a journal, paint or draw, indulge in music therapy, take a long walk with my dog, or call a friend who I know is willing to hear me out. I try my best not to resort to medication, as the side effects can make depression symptoms worse. Through my recovery, I met others who admit to similar struggles and with each story, I see that I am not alone.
So for those of you who fight your mental battles every day, know you are not alone in your struggles. You are loved. You are important. There is a reason you are on this earth. Fight for your right to live. I know how difficult it can be, but there is support for you. And if you need to talk about it, you can shoot me an email.
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 (You can also text and live chat with them).
For more on my struggles with depression and anxiety, check out this article I wrote for Her Culture: http://www.herculture.org/blog/2017/5/18/to-the-monsters-within#.WyB4o6dKhPY
Photo: Rosa Elena Burgos.
Last Updated: July 27, 2019