Updated: Jul 21
A few weeks ago my family was hit by the unexpected suicide of a family friend. This was not only a shocker to us but to our community, as well. This man was a very well to do public figure who seemingly had it all. More money than we could count, a seemingly happy and healthy marriage, children who were making an academic impact, and friends all over the country who adored him. His death made me reflect on my life and a very dark time that I endured.
I will never forget the day a friend text me and said “I want your life“. That was the day I did a complete reevaluation of how I presented myself to the world. Oftentimes we see people living their lives on social media and assume there is nothing wrong and they must have it all figured out. It was in that moment that realized I was living a lie. I was lying to everyone including myself. I was not living this happy go lucky life, in fact I was barely getting by financially, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I was in a dark place.
Now, this was back in 2015. But my emotional darkness started back in March of 2013. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I had booked a network TV show… My first booking in years so I was excited, nervous, on edge. I was also at the end of a dying relationship so I needed this booking to "make me feel good about myself". What should have been a day full of celebration turned out to be a day of lamentation. I knew my ex and I were on the rocks and the thought of us breaking up had consumed every minute of the day even while I was on set. I couldn't keep my mind focused on my work long enough to even deliver my lines well (if you saw that episode you would know what I'm talking about). I wasn't confident nor was I sure of myself. And a lot of that uncertainty was due to the uncertainty of my life. Well later that day, my ex did exactly what I was dreading and he ended our relationship... FOR GOOD. I was so devastated that I packed my bags for a few days because I just couldn't stand to be in my lonely studio apartment by myself. I didn’t want to be left alone with my thoughts and I didn’t want to be left alone with the memories that he and I shared in that space. So I did what I always did and that was run away. I went to some friends house in the safety of their basement where I stayed in the same clothes for two days. On the third day, I woke up and decided my life was no longer worth living. The house was quiet because everyone had gone to work the kids had gone to school and I was left alone in that dark basement. In that moment I decided to send my closest friends and my parents a "goodbye" text. I honestly felt like ending my life was my only option. But to be completely transparent, I was scared. From the outside, people saw someone who was vibrant, colorful and full of life but depression has a way of disguising itself in so many different ways. My depression and unwillingness to live presented itself as me being witty, social, work motivated, and strong. But behind closed doors I was suffering from mental sabotage because my life wasn't how I had envisioned it. I couldn’t handle the pain of rejection in my career or love life. I felt like an ultimate failure because I was broke and heartbroken. So for those of you who have struggled or are currently struggling with life's ups and downs or are having frequent thoughts of depression or suffering from an overwhelming feeling of loneliness… I say to you, "YOU ARE NOT ALONE" (in my Michael Jackson voice)!
But take it from me, Do NOT pitch a tent and live in your depression. There's so much purpose that your life has to offer. Even my journey to mental freedom was long and is still a work in progress. But being in strong mental health is definitely worth putting in the time and effort. So, since six is my lucky number, I want to share six things I did that helped me overcome the darkness and led me to the lighter side of life. If you are feeling like life is coming at you too hard and too fast, I offer these options to bring you some encouragement:
Seek Counseling/Therapy: You are not crazy for seeking help. Therapy is a safe space to talk out your feelings without fear of judgement. It is also a great place to learn better communication skills and how to rebuild broken relationships with friends and family. Therapy also helps to boost your self-esteem and will to live through your current circumstance(s). And if nothing else, a therapist can prescribe you medication or refer you to a doctor for further evaluation, if needed.
Get Physically Fit: Finding a gym or trainer is another great way to positively change your life. It promotes weight loss, improves sleep patterns, helps to manage your mood, rebuilds self-esteem, and establishes a sense of discipline. Having a gym membership/trainer is great for accountability, motivation, and consistency. I am a firm believer that self worth can work from the inside and outside simultaneously. Besides, when you look better on the outside you begin to feel better on the inside.
Rebuild Relationships: Reconnecting to those you once had strong relationships with helps give you the support system you need to go through your daily challenges. There's nothing like having your parents and friends in your corner in the good and bad times. Instead of pushing people away, draw them closer so you can navigate life's obstacles. And it's always a plus to have your village in place to celebrate you when you WIN!
Volunteer at a Local Charity: There's nothing more therapeutic than giving back to those who are in need. Food banks, homeless shelters, thrift stores/clothing drives, and many other community service oriented organizations are always looking for volunteers to help the individuals they serve. Being of service to others is a great way to make a stronger connection with people, increase your sense of purpose, and takes your mind off of your own troubles.
Develop a New Hobby: Developing a new skill or hobby is an excellent way to keep your mind off of your issues. With new hobbies come new adventures and exciting challenges. When you thrust yourself into the newness of something it can help to relieve unwanted stress, enhance your circle of friends, build your social skills, and give you a sense of accomplishment.
Treat Yourself: Begin to explore life like none other. Schedule that monthly massage, take yourself to the movies, walk that nature trail, buy a ticket to that museum exhibit, go listen to live music, eat at the best restaurants, and try something completely out of the box. There is so much that life has to offer, you just have to get to a place where you are willing to experience it ALL. But do it in baby steps. Remember, Rome was not built in a day so take your time rebuilding your life!
Look, life is not a crystal stair. It's not all roses and cotton candy and unicorns. There is no promise of that house on the hill with the white picket fence, doting spouse, kids running happily through the fields, money falling from the sky, and no sorrow. Adversity is very much a part of life but having the tools to navigate it will require YOU taking the first steps toward healing...Try these six first steps and see how much your life improves. And as always, remember to DateYourselfGirl!