Monday, 25 July 2011
In my family, we were taught that emotions were messy and dirty and unnecessary. After all, if you were a “strong black woman,” you could handle anything, including a mother with paranoid schizophrenia.On a Saturday night sometime around midnight, my life rearranged itself when my mother tried to kill herself with an overdose of medication. She was also intending to take me out. I escaped by running into a spare bedroom and locking the door. I remember her being taken to a psychiatric hospital and came to find out was that mental illness was the dirty piece of laundry that no one wanted to touch. I ended up going to school the following day, again, showing no emotion. This is how my depression started.
I grew up with forced silence and shame about my life and my mother’s. Around middle school I was bullied, and began to have a suicidal ideation. Because I had come so close to death, and suffered immensely with life, I felt a profound, though sad kinship with those who had escaped to another side.
I no longer speak to my family; I have decided that if I am going to go from fragmented to being whole, I need to accept their unwillingness to understand my truth. I have gone from the silent and invisible little lamb to being an advocate for my illness. My vulnerability and naked honesty about my life is my strength.