I lightly brushed the blade of the steak knife across the green veins that barely show on my dark skinned wrists. “FUCK!!! Why can’t you just fucking DO IT,” I screamed aloud to myself as the point of the knife began making a small dent in my wrist. I stopped before I cut too deep. There was something that I had to do first. I hopped off of the kitchen counter, and desperately searched for my journal and a pen, knife still in hand. I opened the journal, turned to a blank page, replacing the knife with a BIC pen that I found on the floor, and started writing letters to people who meant a lot to me. After writing letters to two of my closest friends, I began writing one to my little brother. As soon as I wrote out his name, tears began to decorate the page and my loud cries filled my empty apartment. But I had to follow through with my plan, so I sucked it up and kept writing. I did not have the emotional energy to write any more letters, so I neatly ripped the three I had written out of my notebook and laid them on my coffee table. I found myself sitting back on the kitchen counter, knife back in my hand, now stuck on the fact that I would miss seeing my friend present his first book or not be there when my other friend had her first big art show. I thought of my mom and dad’s reaction when they would get the call that their baby girl took her life… but the one thing that trumped it all was imagining my brother on stage, accepting an award for whatever dope ass thing he did and me not being there because I took my life. I then started thinking about how far we’ve come as siblings. We took the circumstantial crumbs that were thrown at us and made full course meals out of that shit. My phone started to ring, interrupting my thoughts. It was a FaceTime call from one of my friends. I thought about not answering because it was a video call, but I answered anyway, hoping my puffy eyes weren’t noticeable. “HEY GUURRLL,” I greeted in my ratchet voice. She returned my greeting with a ratchet response, having no clue that I had just written her a letter about how sorry I was for killing myself.
As much as I will probably regret posting this story, it happened..it's real and it’s not the only time. Unlike so many people, I’m alive to be able to write about it. I won’t lie and say that suicidal thoughts don’t still creep into my mind when I’m in the midst of an anxiety attack or difficult situations. They do. They have since I was twelve years old. But thanks to my therapist and living with anxiety for so long, I have adopted some practices that have helped me to pause before I go too deep into the rabbit hole of my thoughts. Maybe they'll help you out too:
-Breathe: I know this sounds corny, but I’m telling you, this is the first step to coming down from a burst of anxiety or irrational thoughts. Breathe in through your nose deep enough that your belly button feels like it’s buried beneath your ribs and breathe out of your mouth long enough that you feel like your stomach is about to burst like a balloon. I know...corny, but trust me.
-Write it Out: sometimes it helps to just write out how you're feeling. I have so many journals entries that I’ve written during anxiety spells. If I don't have a journal on me, I sometimes use my iPhone notes.
-Identify the trigger (Check the facts): whatever triggered my anxiety/unhealthy thoughts can often get lost in the sauce of my mind. After I take the time to breathe and pull out my journal, I ask myself these questions and answer them (in this order): -How do you feel? -Why do you feel this way? -Can you accept that you feel this way? - How have your feelings changed now that you have accepted how you feel and have become more present?
If my feelings don’t change, I repeat these questions. It definitely helps to write them out, but sometimes I can't because I'm in social situations, so there have been times when I have had to find a corner to stand in, just to do a quick check-in with myself and dialogue internally. (Ya'll probably think I'm crazy as hell by now, but as my Auntie B would say, "So.").
-Meditate: turn off all of the external noise and pop a squat to silence your brain. It may help to light a candle or put on some meditation music/mantras. Spoken word artist, Londrelle has an album entitled “Feminine Energy” (on all music platforms) with some dope meditations on it that help me out when coming up with my own mantras are tough or silence isn't mentally best.
-Listen to music: this depends on my mood. When I’m feeling down, I might throw on a City Girls song, but if my anxiety is through the roof, I might play Drake’s, “So Far Gone” album. We all have our preferences. Judge yoself.
-Play out the whole tape: writing letters to my friends and brother snapped me out of the unhealthy trance I was in. It reminded me of how much I loved the people in my life and how fucked up they would be if I killed myself. Obviously, that wasn’t the intent of the letters, but it helped. Next time you think about harming yourself, "play out the whole tape." What would happen if you killed yourself? How would it effect those who love you? What would happen if you didn’t harm yourself? What are some things that you have to look forward to? Maybe it's a night out with your friends on Saturday, or the next Game of Thrones episode, or the new Fenty lip color....or the next Drake album (So).
-Exercise: this is probably the hardest thing to do when you’re feeling like shit. But, once you push through and do it, it will definitely make a positive difference in your mood. Pinterest workouts come through for ya girl.
-Go outside: a breath of fresh air never hurts.
-Pray (if that’s your thing): it’s hard for me to articulate my prayers out loud, so I write them out in my journal. I do this thing called dialogue prayer. I write out my concerns to God and write out God’s words back to me (they should never be negative/hurtful).
-Call someone I trust: I have a pretty solid group of people that I can trust, but if it's too late in the night, I have called the Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255)—it’s free. Sidebar: You can also DM me on Instagram (brownn_child) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (also, very free).
When an anxiety attack or negative thoughts hit, compassion for myself is nonexistent. I quickly forget that I’m human. Forget that my life matters. Forget that I am loved. Forget that I have purpose. Each of these practices literally saved me off of mental and physical ledges. I didn’t write any of this for sympathy or, paying homage to my last post, for some "woe is me ish." I wrote this on some “you are not alone ish.” YOU ARE NOT ALONE! YOU MATTER!! YOU ARE LOVED! YOU HAVE PURPOSE! Nothing is worth abusing yourself over. Nothing or nobody is worth taking your life over. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to do shit that seems corny to you, like meditating or carrying a journal. Your life may actually depend on the corny shit.
Thank you so much for reading :) Excuse me as I will now go breathe deeply in prayer and identify my triggers in my journal, as I meditate listening to "So Far Gone" through my JBL speaker and "play out the whole tape" after I publish this post. Byyyyeeee.