In 2019, a member of my family committed suicide. Until that moment, no one in my family had ever attempted or committed suicide. Growing up in a religious and foreign family, suicide and mental health issues are taboo, and most importantly, it is considered the worst crime a person can commit. Now, sit with me a little longer before you click past this post. What has become a big deal for my family; many families are currently facing. Mental health is not something that we talk about; it is the elephant in the room that has plagued our ancestors for generations.
We may divide ourselves by race, gender, ethnicity, and social class, but the matter of mental health can never genuinely divide us. Money doesn’t buy happiness in some cases, and money can buy too much happiness. Having a family can bring great joy to one person and a burden to another. We spend our days running from the thoughts and the imposter inside. We read books, listen to podcasts, and reflect on the mantras, but still, some of us are slipping down the hopeless slope with no end in sight.
Brokenness comes in all shapes and sizes. It is the thing that keeps us restless, weighs us down, and forces us to put on a happy face. It is the thing we keep a secret from our loved ones, and in most cases, we hide it from ourselves. If we never deal with it or speak of it, then maybe it isn’t there, but the key is to name it and face it.
I have faced anxiety for most of my adult life in my struggles. It isn’t something I am ashamed of, and it isn’t something that I hide. Before, it was the idea that if people knew, then I would be labeled as crazy, and nothing plagues me more as a black woman than being labeled as crazy. Until her death, my mother was the only one that truly knew, but there were days when I would sit in silence beside her, unable to put into words the crushing feeling in my chest. Inconveniently for me, I am one of those people whose anxiety shows up in physical ways—chest pains, headaches, stomach cramps, heart palpitations, muscle spasms, and insomnia. I’ve stayed up late, unable to sleep because of the terror. I could not shut out noisy thoughts.
Then came brilliance. It didn’t happen to me all at once. It didn’t happen in a counseling session. It happened when I was seated alone in a place I call my “happy place,” and I determined there had to be more. There had to be joy beyond the clouds and the fogginess of my thoughts. I decided I needed to find a way to access it. This is a story of my journey, bits, and pieces of what helped, what didn’t help, and what I am currently doing to get to true brilliance.
So far, I have learned that true brilliance doesn’t come easy, and getting control of your mind doesn’t happen overnight, and for some, it is a battle best fought alongside someone else or something else. There is no direct path, I have taken many twists and turns, and daily my way reaches a fork in the road, and I have no clue where to go. There are no magic pills. There is no one prayer to pray, one counseling session to take, or any book. There is, however, time. Each day I wake up is another opportunity to try again. I know it sounds crazy, but I am not even living for myself some days. I live for those having the most challenging day and barely holding on. I am living for those whose lives were cut short. I am living for those who won’t have a future.
I am living proof that from brokenness comes brilliance. Every day won’t be easy, I won’t always have the answers or the right thing to say, but I guess that’s when those books and counseling sessions come in. That’s when spending time in my “happy place” comes in. Rest assured, I guarantee you won’t agree with everything I have to say, and you know what I want you to call those things out. What you have to say may very well be the thing that does it for someone else? Approach things with kindness because you genuinely don’t know what people are dealing with, and these days it seems like we are all dealing with a little too much. Brilliance is possible.