I was getting ready to leave home and start a new adventure. I was excited and unbothered, at least I thought. I had the most awful gut wrenching pain in my chest, it hurt so bad I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think of anyone or anything in that moment; I honestly thought I was going to die, but it passed and I went on with my day with a fake happy facade and a worried “WTF was that” replaying over and over in my head. I left California and for the first time I was on my own; I had a new roommate, a new job, a new school... everything was different. That’s when the pain started again, I would be doing mundane things like laundry or cooking or even laying down and reading a book for homework. Obviously sharp pains in your chest should worry you, especially if it's followed by shortness of breath, that’s when I started to worry… maybe it something serious I had no clue but I was terrified.
It's been two years since I attempted suicide. I constantly like to reflect on where I have been since my release from the Harlem Hospital's Psych Ward. In honor of Mental Health Day, or Mental Health Week (shit, let's make that a month!) I've decided to write about where I am today.
As a woman in my 40s, the pile of pressures continue to add up; a pile of self-imposed pressures stemming from subconscious ideas implanted by books, movies, decades of what a woman should be, can be, and most importantly, wants to be.
You guys all know this monster. You might not refer to it as a monster but in this story it is. Anxiety is the monster we are going to talk about. A monster so powerful it affects everyone in the world all at once. Some more than others. Let’s start this story in the beginning, before Anxiety was a condition it was a human being. At a time when anyone or anything different was shunned much like today.
I used to think "why me?" a lot. I was bullied growing up; I had a hard childhood for a lot of reasons I won't elaborate on now. When I finally grew into myself, life got a little easier, and the world wasn't constantly shitting on me anymore, at the age of 27 I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Fibromatosis.
I was born the second oldest of four children...until the oldest passed away. I was suddenly thrust into a position of responsibility and maturity that I wasn't prepared for and expected to execute well. I was 13, maybe 14 years old at the time. The younger ones were now my responsibility; I had to take care of them, feed them, make sure they stayed out of trouble and were always safe while trying to protect them from an abusive, alcoholic father and comfort my sweet mother who took the brunt of it all.