It's one o'clock in the morning and I'm relatively happy. That's actually the problem. Because in my contented relative happiness there is still this voice in the back of my mind reminding me that I am not good enough and whatever strides I make are futility. My demon, my monster. She follows me no matter where I go. Much like a younger sibling dogging the steps of the honored elder.
I can remember the first time I met her. I was thirteen. In middle school. And her arms were wrapped around me and I was shrouded in her darkness. And I did not know her, but she knew me. And she first spoke to me through pen and ink in the form of my first poem. She bled out her soul all over that small notepad page. And her handwriting was a reflection of my own. And she knew all of the same words I did. And her sentences were similar to all of the sentences I had ever written. But she wasn't me. But I was her.
I was lying on the landing watching television with my family. My silence I suppose cast a shadow over the entire living room. I was always talking. Always bouncing off the wall. If I wasn't speaking it was generally because I was engaged in my two favorite activities: reading a delicious book or writing a fun story. But silence while the tv was on? No! There was always something to talk about. Except for that day. I wasn't interested in sharing what was in my mind. And had I been asked, for the first time I would have had no words to describe the aching emptiness that had opened itself inside of me. And I felt its claws as if dipped in acid digging into me, making me more, and making me so much less. I was dismissed as a nuisance. In a black family, no one wants to see your depression. Depression is weakness. And weakness is not allowed. You needed to be strong to face the world. If you couldn't face yourself there was no way you were making it outside of the protective walls that housed you.
I was sentenced to my room. I was sentenced to be hidden away. The people I most trusted and most loved...they didn't ask questions. They didn't wonder what had happened to their normally chipper and rambunctious eldest child. They just...sent me to my room. As if depression is contagious...I didn't realize it then...but it kind of is. But not in the way you normally consider contagion.
When I was fifteen I tried to kill myself for the first time. I was miserable. Childhood trauma, being the butt of even my own families fat jokes, ugly jokes, and the teenage angst that we generally suffer as adolescents weighed heavily on my heart. A fat girl in a skinny girl school. My male friends had suddenly become afraid that I had grown romantic feelings for them that I was all but completely abandoned there for a while.
But I made a comeback. It was short lived, my moment of high school glory. But I had it. It didn't help. My new friends were sympathetic to my emotional problems for a short time. But what can you expect of 15-17 year-old kids? Not much. My family had already written me off. I was the negative child. That was it. Nothing else was paid attention to. So I learned to hide the sadness. I learned that lesson pretty quickly.
I'd made countless friends when I had moved on to college. Eventually though my mask would fall, and they would see...and they too would abandon me. What can you expect of 19-22 year-olds? Not much, I suppose. I lost them too. The momentary lapses in my entertainment value were ignored by and large so long as I still did what was expected of me-everything. I did everything. Ha. I would do anything for my friends and there was not one who didn't take advantage of it. But when I had to say no...my no in conjunction with those momentary lapses in my entertainment value generally lead to my removal as a friend. I was alone.
I didn't mind being alone. I had learned to love it after my first banishment. See in isolation there was only one voice to torment me. One voice to tell me I was getting fatter and uglier and stupider. One voice telling me that my altruism was no more than a farce. I was a monster and no good deed would ever redeem me. And I believed it; if it wasn't true why was I alone?
I was forced into therapy after a planned suicide attempt-I hadn't gone through with it. I simply planned it. I was twenty at the time. I was given the option by a friend at the time to either seek help or be removed from my position in their lives...permanently. They wanted me to get help...but they wanted it so that they could be more comfortable. Not because they cared anything for my life or well-being.
I'm an intelligent woman. My IQ has always been above average, I am and have always been an overachiever academically-my writing and my intelligence have always been the only assets I have. The only parts of me in which I could have any semblance of pride. I was intelligent enough to tell my therapists what was wrong with me (but I was a psych major and it didn't take a genius to figure out that I fit all the benchmarks of one form of depression or another). I told my psychiatrist what to prescribe me. I had no arguments from either of them. I collected my script and I went home to show my friends that I had completed their grisly task.
I stared at that script all day. When I went to bed that night it taunted me. For three days my monster and the script mocked me, reminding me of how weak I was, how unworthy I was. It was torture. But it got worse...doesn't it always?
My friends noted that there had been no immediate change in my behavior-because a little pill was suddenly going to take the problem off of their hands. I never could understand why I was such a problem. I kept to myself. I didn't bother anyone with the burden of my pain. Experience had taught me better than to open up to another person. Those people leave. Hell, just seeing brief glimpses of it with these friends had lead to discomfort for them and eventually threats for me. Another followed, fill the script and take my medication.
I have near perfect recall of events, conversations, things I have both written and heard. It makes for a pretty freaky trick sometimes. But there is a month of my life when nothing left an impression on me. I have vague flashes of being with laughing friends, and I would laugh out of my hiding habit, but the false laughter wasn't because I was sad. It was because I could feel nothing. No happiness. No sadness. Nothing. I couldn't even feel empty. My world turned grey. But something worse was on the horizon. And I know I have said it before, but isn't it always?
For the first time since I played with my imaginary friends and began penning those adventures in a childish and giant scrawl...I couldn't do the one thing that made me ME. I couldn't write. My characters had stopped speaking to me. They had moved out of the home I had constructed for them in my minds eye...they were just...gone. And no amount of willful summoning, re-reading of their tales, or staring at a blank word processor could bring them back to me.
My best friend at the time didn't like the new me. I was just existing and that wasn't entertaining for her. And she loved my stories almost as much as I do. So she told me to stop taking them and she would catch me if my facade dropped. I would have stopped without her support either way. I couldn't stand the silence in my mind. Writing was all I had. It is who I am. It is my passion. I bleed ink.
I stopped seeing my therapist. She was an idiot. And even if she wasn't I couldn't trust her with my secrets, with who I am. If I couldn't trust my family, and my friends were also not an option, I couldn't tell this woman who had threatened to have me committed on several occasions simply because I was honest about still wanting to die though I had no plan and the thoughts were not obsessive.
I wrote a piece entitled "Suicide" a couple of days ago. Of my friends who have read it not one of them has spoken a word about it to me. It doesn't exist to them. I don't exist to them except for when a need of my services or person arises. I was given the advice by a lovely Influencer that I should seek counseling. I wrote this to explain why it's not for me.
I have a deep seated distrust of any who claims to want to help me. Generally helping me comes in the form of helping themselves. I'm aware of what my problems are, why I am the way I am, and the things that trigger my depression and anxiety. I have my own forms of self-care for those moments. My favorite and most often utilized method is writing. Writing forces me to confront my feelings and reorganize my thoughts. It doesn't make the monster go away. It just makes it a little easier to live with her.
I also can't afford to hear something I already intrinsically know. And really, my form of depression is one that can only be "effectively" treated with medication. I lose the only things I feel are actually worth living for on those meds. They increase my desire to cease existence because they rob me of my existence.
I'm not going to make promises that I won't fall to my weakness again. I can't promise that there won't be another break, another plan, another attempt. I can only promise to do my best. I'm aware that that's not good enough. But it's what I have to offer. It's the only thing I can give you. And I'm aware that for most of you-like all of the people in my life before you-this isn't going to be enough. I am broken, and society does not like broken things. I am a bruise on the apple of society. I can't change that. But maybe I can make you believe in me, just a little.
I wrote and published a book that brings me hope because my characters-the good guys-are full of the hope that I cannot physically or emotionally express to you coherently. But it's there if you're willing to look for it.
I'm working on promoting that book because my life's' ambition is to succeed as a writer and share my world with the world. It's going slowly, and I have fallen off track on many occasions, but I haven't let the dream go. I have plans for my future that very much involve my breathing.
I have spent my career helping people, working with mental illness, cognitive disorders, and the elderly and infirm. My work in the community brings me so much joy. I can honestly say that for many of my clients, had I not been a part of their care-they wouldn't be thriving and happy and improving every day. Their families sing my praises, so I needn't toot my own horn.
I am alone, sure. And I hear her voice even now. But today the monster wont win. And she won't win tomorrow either. As long as I'm writing I'm living. It's when the words stop is when you should be concerned-if you are at all. And I can promise you that RIGHT NOW I have too much to say-even when no one is listening.
Hello. My name is La' Tashia. I have been writing since I understood that the people in my head had fascinating stories that needed to be told, that's why they came to me. That's why they speak to me. And the world of fantasy...I could spend my life in any one of the stories I've written [...]