Once Was Lost
By: Naté Allen
July 9th 2019, 7am
I awoke to the screeching sound of my alarm, signifying yet another Monday. I blinked my eye and the weekend was gone. Just like that. The two days I looked forward to each week to rid myself of anxiety had come to a close. As the alarm went off, I reached for my mask. The hypothetical mask that read “everything is great.” The mask that allowed me to work in the hospitality industry, even though I didn’t have a happy bone in my body. The mask that allowed me to dwell in toxic environments with a smile on my face. The mask that allowed me to brush off hurt like it didn’t phase me. You know, that “Strong Black Woman” mask.
Although I was used to this routine week after week, this particular Monday was different than the others. This Monday, the mask wouldn’t fit. I couldn’t shake the anxiety. The feeling of hopelessness and worthlessness was looming. I was tired of pretending. Tired of fighting. Tired of accepting less than I deserved. Tired of living a life that didn’t suit me. Just plain TIRED.
As I stumbled around my apartment getting dressed for work through tear-filled eyes, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “what really is the point?” “do I really want to live this life?” This was a question I’d asked myself multiple times over previous months, but this Monday, it was glaring. I didn’t wanna do it anymore. Attempting to calm myself, I took a Xanax. After that didn’t work, I took another. Then another. Next thing I knew, I was staring at an empty prescription bottle.
July 9th 2019, 10am
I opened my eyes to bright florescent lights, white walls, and a strange woman watching me. I was in a hospital bed on suicide watch for the next 72 hours. As my family and friends started to arrive, some were crying, some were pissed, and some were confused. But ALL of them were grateful that I was still here. I, on the other hand, was numb. Just dazed. I didn’t really know how to feel. One thing I did know was that I didn’t want to hurt the people who loved me. I’d really hurt them, and I knew I couldn’t let it happen again. So, I needed to push through.
I decided to take advantage of the psychiatric resources at the hospital and asked to be released into an outpatient program. I soon enrolled into Insight Behavioral Health Center’s Partial Hospitalization Program, which consisted of intensive individual and group therapy, exposure therapy, family therapy, and psychiatry. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder. The program was 7 days a week, 9 hours a day for two months. This seems intense, because it was! But, it was honestly the best thing that ever happened to me.
I gained the courage to unpack all the mess I’d been carrying around for YEARS. I looked myself in the mirror and finally spoke my truth. I learned to accept the things I couldn’t control, and I committed to living life in accordance with my values. I set healthy boundaries in personal and professional relationships and began refraining from target behaviors. I learned valuable coping mechanisms to manage my anxiety and depression. I took an oath of sobriety and abstinence. I decided to sacrifice a lucrative career that no longer served me, and in turn, I gave up my livelihood and comfortability. But it HAD to be done. There was no choice. I finally threw out the mask.
Last, but certainly not least, I met a beautiful soul who held me accountable in recovery. She laughed with me, cried with me, prayed with me, and loved me through the lowest point in my life. July 9th, 2019 led me to my life partner… my soul mate… and for that I’m forever grateful.
May 31st 2019, 5pm
I share this story with you, not because I want sympathy. Certainly not for likes or attention. I share this story because in the thick of what I was going through, I felt alone. I felt ashamed, and I self-medicated with substances and target behaviors. I felt like no one could relate. If there’s anyone out there going through something similar, but you don’t know where to start seeking help, please contact us! Authentic Praise Ministry Inc is dedicated to increasing mental health awareness and steering you towards resources that are right for you. From self-esteem, to toxic relationships, to PTSD, to depression, these conditions are more common than you think. If you’re not feeling like yourself, please take advantage of your resources before it’s too late. We love you, and we need you.
Until next time.