Surviving Thirteen

With suicide on the rise in all age brackets, per the CDC, is social media really the main character in this epidemic?

It was twice that I considered suicide by way of pills, and once when I had the pills in my hands to go through with it. My trigger was essentially growing up in an all-girl boarding school which facilitated separation anxiety. Having traveling parents and sisters across the pond made loneliness a close friend and encouragement an illusion. See, I hated that my parents had decided that shipping me off to a boarding school, was the best way to curb my love for TV. But the reality was the adults were unable to discipline the teenager I was becoming. Boarding school took getting used too but I was never bullied. You would think being one of the five black girls in the entire school would entertain such juvenile intentions, yet it eluded itself. The truth was, there was another type of darkness that would push me to the edge. It was my insecurities, and no one could save me.

Growing up in the nineties should have been the best of times. I mean, Coolio ruled with gangster paradise, the Spice girls were girl power and I had the passion for acting. A passion that would enhance my position as a minority, being the only black girl in the school that took drama. I would audition with the understanding that, the lead role was out of my grasp and when rehearsing for examination monologues, the drama teachers were never at liberty to help. Which led to never feeling good enough. A feeling I still struggle with today. The feelings of inadequacy were evident during the drama examinations. Although I worked hard on the monologues, I never felt I was good enough to pass. That all changed when the head of the board of Drama rated my monologue as the best performance, he had seen all day. His proclamation to call Hollywood on my behalf, unraveled elation. With such a high review I received a medal of distinction and the highest score in the whole class. The nineties should have been the best of times, but I could not shake the feeling of not being good enough and talented enough with no purpose. Those thoughts were on repeat with no one around to hit stop.

It was a Saturday evening and I was home for the weekend. I was moody, as usual, my insecurities made me moody and closed off. My uncle was downstairs, and I was in my room with anxiety as my companion. In my hands were the pills I was going to use to stop the pain, to end it all. I was thirteen and I possessed the overwhelming feeling that because I wasn’t good enough, no one cared about me, so what was the purpose of breathing. Then there was a knock at the door, my uncle walks in and I threw him a look of disdain. But he was not deterred, he saved me with his words. His simple, “It will get easier, I know it doesn’t look like it now, but it will get better.” My hands hidden under the sheets from his view, he didn’t know, he couldn’t have known.

I survived thirteen and my teenage years. Now in my thirties, there are spaces I fill today that I wonder about, what if? I’m still a daughter, sister, friend, now an aunt, an actress, and so many other things. All those relationships are not perfect, but I play an important role in every connection I make. Those connections will be my imprint in this world, to illustrate that I was here, I was loved, and I loved. No, we didn’t have social media, but we had insecurities and that’s still an epidemic today. And if certain factors that contribute to suicide, are not addressed we will continue to lose our next Kate Spade, our fathers, our daughters or our friends. I was blessed to find a light to keep going, but some are not as fortunate.

I understand that the highlight reels of social media can have an emotional effect, but to blame it all on social media possess insufficient evidence, as there are other factors in the mix. For instance, chemical Imbalance in the brain is a factor that requires examination. May I suggest we take responsibility, by making real connections, to check on that friend, that family member, or that kid at the back of the class. Mental wellness starts with combating the stories we are telling ourselves about our struggles. I’ve realized that it’s a constant battle to combat insecurities in order to keep living my best life. So I’m seeking out a therapist to better navigate certain life decisions. There’s also Better help, an online affordable online therapy resource.

I speak up now because self-care means never being ashamed to say you need help. Fighting to save yourself requires the confrontation of the issues that are stopping you from living your best life. Fight for you because your story of overcoming your fears will not only change your trajectory, it will light the path for someone else.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please call the National Suicide prevention hotline at 1.800.273.8255.

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