I realize I've only written a few post and last night I had several topics running through my mind with a humorous spin on them, but after hearing the news of Don Cornelius's death this morning, I put every other topic on the back burner to bring a very serious topic to the forefront...
When I heard reports that the iconic voice and creator of SOUL TRAIN had died I thought "Dang... we lost another legend in the black community.", but then to hear reports that his death came at his own hands... an apparent suicide... I was shook!!! What makes a 75yr old man who was a successful icon and living legend want to take his own life, and especially at his age? What could've possibly been going on for someone to take their own life after 3 quarters of a century? I mean he conducted "the hippest trip in America!", "love, peace, and SOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUULLLLLL!" He brought us a party every Saturday for years in our homes? This doesn't make any sense...
But then I stopped and thought... what makes someone want to attempt take their lives at any age?
A school aged child being bullied,
or a high school girl who didn't feel pretty enough because she never got asked out
or a high school football player who's dreams of playing for a Division 1 school were shattered by an injury
or a college student who felt like a failure because they didn't make the Dean's list
or couldn't quite find a clique to fit in
or was struggling with their sexuality and afraid to come out to their family and friends
or a new mother who couldn't shake the stresses of caring for another life
or the dad that lost his job and didn't know how he was going to support that new wife and baby
or the single mother doing all she knows to do, but still trying to make ends meet
or the baby daddy who's baby mama is acting out about visitation
or the graduate trying to make a name for themselves in the workplace only to be hit with office politics
or the single woman/man who feels all alone because the love of her life doesn't love her in return
or the criminal who committed a horrible crime but couldn't face the judgment of the people
or the baby boomer who isn't as spry as they used to be and has empty nest blues
or the elderly person who sees how times have changed but they don't remember them changing...
Yeah... all of these could be a rational reason for attempting suicide to someone who is dealing with depression or mental illness or there could be seemingly no reason at all.
You can't see depression... and I'm not talking about just a bad day or week. I'm talking about the illness that often goes untreated and undiagnosed (especially in the African-American community and the church)... clinical depression.
We dismiss it as a family trait "Child, you know they all a lil' off", or someone who is just always "going through", and especially in the church we're quick to tell someone to "lift up your heads and encourage yourself!!!" (which is fine and dandy, but often temporary and difficult to do for a person who has depression).
Here's my point (Black History segue)... as a community we have enough diseases trying to take us out with symptoms we can see, but still mental illness/depression is taking lives yet is still such a taboo subject. Every other week there is a blood pressure screening in the hood or a "sugar" diabetes testing or self-breast exam reminder being announced at our churches, schools and other events (and YES these are still VERY important), but when somebody "can't get right" or seems really down for a period of time we don't encourage them to get professional help, we take them out to dinner to cheer them up, but that's the end. They may laugh it up with you and be the life of the party, but then go home and cry themselves to sleep or never get to sleep because their mind is racing with thoughts of loneliness and hopelessness and with nagging thoughts that then end is the only way out. Then we want to whisper at the funeral "Girl I didn't know it was that bad." and start falling out and carrying on. (and you know I'm right)
As a woman of faith I fully believe in God's healing power, but just like any other illness or disease I also know God places the wisdom of doctors, therapist, prescription drugs and other natural remedies to help us. Faith without works is dead, and I don't want to see another life taken at the hands of suicide because someone didn't know where to turn for help. No matter your age, situation you're facing, or how bad it seems now... there is help and hope!
And if you've never dealt with serious depression tell God "thank ya"!!! It's very hard to understand if you've never been there. And I'm not telling you what I've heard... I'm telling you what I know. A friend of mine ask me (out of genuine concern, but it was funny) "So what does an anxiety attack or depression look like so I'll know if it's happening. Is there something I'm supposed to do? Do I just let you cry? Try to make you laugh? What???" (and he was so serious!) There's really no way to describe it and it effects everyone differently. Everyday isn't easy... some are better than others, but at the end of each day I'm thankful I fought to the end, count my blessings, chose to rejoice and be glad in it... even if but for a moment.
When I started writing this, I hadn't planned on ending this post in such a transparent way, but allow me to leave you with these words from a classic song:
Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because I know
He holds the future
And life and is worth the living
Just because he lives
And yes, this is still my life... but not everything is a laughing matter.
(I promise the next post won't be so heavy... I just wanted to help the people) Happy Black History Month!