Crown The Brown : Mental Health Awareness Month
Crown The Brown, Mental Health Awareness Month Journal. It is Mental Health Awareness Month in many parts of the world. Mental Health has been a topic that many have avoided for many years, especially in brown families and communities. It involves an individual’s psychological well-being, as well as the absence or presence of mental illness. There are so many people who struggle with their psychological well-being.
People are impacted and often diagnosed as they struggle with their mental health. Mental health also includes health conditions that impact on behaviour and cognitive functioning. It includes, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, eating disorder, schizophrenia and psychotic disorders, as well as dementia. Within our Crown The Brown family, we ensure a safe platform to speak up about these issues and share our experiences. We were fortunate enough to share some mental health awareness through some members and their stories.
Usually, people save the positive message for the end of their story, from what I’ve seen, myself included. But for once, if it helps anyone to just hear some positivity and not even hear my story, I want them to know this. I just want whoever you may be to know, that it gets better. I promise you it gets better.
Hope always seems very bleak when you’re in the midst of your own darkness. You don’t see light, even if it is there. You just see your darkness because that’s what you’re surrounded by. That was depression and anxiety for me. From snapping at others, to locking myself in my dorm room I had a wide variety of coping mechanisms to run from myself.
Ninety eight pounds. That’s what stared back at me. Ninety eight pounds of skin and bones is what I had turned into for a 19 year old girl. My depression and anxiety had gotten so bad that I was skipping meals for the entire day, sometimes not touching anything until I started feeling dizzy. Seeing my bones poking out in scary angles from under my skin. Terrified of what I was turning into.
And… I hit rock bottom.
I had never been taught to take care of myself, so when it actually came time to do so, I had no idea how. One thing people never really understood, and I think some still do not understand is that while I was hungry physically, I was much more hungry mentally and physically. For positivity, for love, for understanding. I was hungry for the things that couldn’t be physically fed to me.
I constantly looked around and saw happy people. And I would ask, “why can’t that be me?”, “why don’t I deserve to be happy?” Day in and day out I was tired with myself. Angry with myself. Disappointed in myself. Eventually that fatigue, anger and disappointment turned into the knife I held to my wrist one day. But I never could do it. I couldn’t kill myself. I used to wonder why, and think about it, I’ve figured it out why now.
To be honest, I didn’t kill myself because I knew deep down I didn’t actually want to die, I just wanted the pain to end.
While the pain is still present some days, I don’t want to die anymore. I want to live more than anything. Because I’ve realized I’ve got so much to live for. And I don’t necessarily mean family and friends. I’ve got to live for myself now. Something I didn’t have before. And I will. Because I know that underweight, sad girl would have wanted me to. While so much of my resilience has surfaced from my choice to become a writer, which went hand in hand with the support systems I established…I’ve never really given myself credit for climbing out of the hole I was in.
Whenever somebody does mention how far I’ve gotten, I usually give more credit to those around me, not myself. And so I want to thank myself for once, for not giving up and listening to the constant death threats my mind had. For continuing to fight even when there was no support around me.
For learning to love myself, and not being afraid of who I was. In finding myself, I’ve lost many people and relationships along the way. And my only wish now is, for those that walked away from me to one day turn around and say, “I wish I stayed to watch her grow.”
So over a year ago in first year of uni my best friend died unexpectedly in an accident. The support at the time was great. I was devastated as nothing like this had ever happened to me like this as no grandparents had died yet either.
3 months later, his girlfriend who was also my best-friend, committed suicide and on the same day, my granddad died. I remember thinking I was just about to stand back up to the world then I got knocked back down again. The family was in mourning but didn’t understand that my best friend has also died. I was very depressed in bed and other family members kept coming up trying to get me out thinking I was over dramatic to my grandad passing as it’s a natural aging death, not knowing anything about 2 other deaths I was dealing with. At one point my uncle came into my room saying for my to grow up and get up.
I returned to university still devastated, made worse as I had no real friends at university.
The closest friend to me said to get over it, so I had to go through torturous nights where I would go outside and enter dangerous situations in the hope of meeting my death. I tried getting help from my university’s counseling service but I was terrified. For about 6 months I would stop and shame myself if I found myself smiling, or laughing. I also began drinking everyday and every time I returned home I would just lie in bed which made my grandmother very upset as she hated seeing me sad.
However during this time I would have dance rehearsals and performances where I would seem completely normal but really I was on the verge of tears every reversal and I wanted to talk to somebody there. I started volunteering at Age UK which boosted my confidence and eventually I entered second year completely happier nearly a year on from when I was suicidal.
Furthermore, it is possible to find happiness in a dark place. Many state that we become stronger during our darkest days. Mental health is something many people take for granted without realizing the damage it can cause when not sort after. We often forget how powerful the mind is and how negative thoughts impact on our behaviour and relationships with others. Do not disregard your mental health, because it can save you from yourself.
Thank you Vaidehi and Dhru for being the first two Mental Health journal entries. It is never easy sharing your story. These two beautiful souls are so courageous and admirable. If this inspired you and you would like to find your own voice within a safe platform, be sure to follow us for more amazing South Asian stories – @crownthebrown__ .