Okay ya’ll, I think I may have opened the flood gates for myself. I tend to write something, share it, get nervous and then retreat like a hermit. Perfectionist struggles that I’m still working through, but I see it, and here I am, still sharing 💕
And writing something as vulnerable as My Lowest Point? If I’m being honest, usually I’d run and disappear from the internet for a few weeks. But writing makes me feel alive, and gives me my voice, especially when there was a period in time when I was saying out loud, “I can’t breathe, I feel like I’m dying.”
While I didn’t plan on sharing about my lowest point because I felt so much shame around it, I’m realizing that our darkest moments also bring out our biggest lessons. And I have hesitated on sharing a lot of the dark moments because well… I’ve had a lot of them. I thought that I was supposed to have it all together but I very much felt like I didn’t have it together.
Navigating mental health as a Black woman is HARD. I use to feel like I couldn’t be honest about what I was feeling. There’s a meme I’ve seen that I think perfectly sums up the lack of support Black women get for mental health – it’s a cartoon of a Black woman drowning and in the next frame someone is shouting telling her she’s doing wonderful. As she’s continuing to drown, rather than someone helping to pull her up, they give her a high five instead and she drowns and sinks in the water. I know what it’s like to feel like you’re dying right in front of an audience.
I struggled with insomnia for a long time and when I could fall asleep, I’d have really dark nightmares and flashbacks, it felt like I couldn’t escape pain whether I was awake or asleep. I’d try to push it down, numb it, push through, keep going.
My smile usually masked the pain, my therapist told me that she would notice that the bigger the pain I would describe, the bigger the smile.
Cognitive dissonance. My facial reaction didn’t match the intensity of the pain I described.
I write for my mental clarity, and now it looks like I’m inviting you on the ride. There’s so much in my head, that I often keep in and it’s becoming very clear to me that sharing what I’ve been experiencing can help someone. So thank you all for telling me to keep writing, for you, I will 💕
But I need to warn you, it’s not full of sunshine and rainbows, there’s a lot of darkness.
So welcome to more darkness, we’re going to be dipping into it for a bit.
See that tattoo on my left forearm? That’s my reminder to myself of my lowest point. I got it last year, and got my dad to write it out.
My mom’s beautiful words to me, in my dad’s stunning handwriting. When I was at my absolute lowest point two years ago, I feel like my mom could sense it. I would call my parents sobbing after getting an hour of sleep and dealing with the dark mental gymnastics going on in my head.
I started saying some of the dark things out loud, “I’m a failure,” “I can’t remember the last time I slept, I just want to sleep my life away,” “I’m a disaster,” “I’m a waste of space,” “What is the point of me being here on earth,” and my parents immediately spotted my pain because they heard me say similarly concerning things when I graduated from college.
✨ Every single time I would say something negative about myself, my mom would say “pa découragé” which means don’t be discouraged in Creole. It became a chant, she would say it over and over, like she wanted me to believe it. I could hear the pain in her voice as she could hear my pain when I spoke. I would say I was fine, but she knew I was far from it.
✨ “Pa découragé Stephanie, pa découragé!”
✨ Ya’ll I was pretty discouraged for a while. But I kept that phrase as a reminder to myself in my darkest moment and that phrase was the reminder I kept telling myself when I thought the absolute worst things. When I tried to create a plan to cause harm to myself, the phrase pa découragé literally infiltrated my mind. It felt like my parents traveled through the phone in New York to Denver to give me the reminder I needed to not give up.
✨ So I now get to keep that phrase, with me and on me. I look at it on my arm at least once a day and remember that while yes, things can get shitty, I’m still here and while I have absolutely no idea what that means yet, I’m still here and that matters. Success and accolades don’t mean as much as still being here.
✨ I tend to dip into the dark points of my life, recover from them and then run away from the internet if I share something that feels super vulnerable for me. But this time feels different. I feel like I’m in a much stronger space to open the curtain and share a really dark space that I often thought I’d have to keep only to myself.
What reminds you of your past?