This past weekend, I stumbled upon the story of Mercedes Smith and Markeice Brown. The teen couple who had, just days apart, committed suicide. Of course, it broke my heart that those two young people didn’t want to be here anymore. My heart broke even more once I realized that there were so many people around them, and still, they felt alone. I started to wonder how this was possible. Then, I reminded myself of myself.
See, I actually began the process of this write weeks ago, before reading the aforementioned story. Then, in the midst of brainstorming and drafting, I put it aside. I thought to myself that it would be better written once I was in a different head space. I worried that I wouldn’t be transparent. Then, I worried that I would be too transparent. I knew the subject matter would be personal, so it made me nervous. However, after coming across the tragedy of the teens multiple times, I felt almost propelled to write this to completion.
As quiet as I’ve kept, I’ve been dealing with mental health issues for years. Anxiety and depression have been taunting me since adolescence. Of course, I didn’t know what it was back then. I would just retreat to my own little bubble and not interact as much. During these “episodes”, I was often called “shy” or “mean”. Because I didn’t yet understand it myself, I accepted both labels. Now, as an adult, as much as I work to avoid my childhood bullies, there are times I feel ambushed. When I am jumped by anxiety and depression, I am nothing less than awkward and detached. But, out of fear of coming off as a “bitch”—because only children are “shy”— I and forced to engage in social situations anyways. And let me tell you, this task alone EXHAUSTS me. Still, I have had darker days. A couple of years ago, they were more often than not.
To be honest, I can’t pinpoint the one thing that was so wrong. I just remember waking up every day, being miserable. Thinking my tears made obvious my despair, I never addressed any thoughts of not wanting to be here. I would vent to people I trusted, hoping they would offer some encouraging words. Now, I don’t know if I was hurting so that I couldn’t hear the good in their words, but I would feel no resolve. “This is just life as an adult” and “Be grateful for what you have” sounded like gag orders to me. Every piece of “advice” and every word of “comfort” seemed to translate to “Suck it up; it ain’t that bad”. I was hurting, and my feelings were being dismissed. I imagine this is how young Markeice and Mercedes must have felt.
These sort of feelings should not be taken lightly, ever. Mental health is not something that can be properly addressed through a few witty memes or even momentary discussion. For people like myself, it is a daily struggle. Therefore, it should be a daily conversation. In the meantime, be considerate. Understand that everyone isn’t wired the same. So, what may seem like a small problem to you may seem like a life-altering problem to a person dealing with anxiety and/or depression. Be considerate. Your response may mean more than you know. Be considerate.