Can I be honest? I’m probably one of the strongest people I know but sometimes, life feels as if it is too much to bear. As I am writing this I’m also second guessing every word, and hoping no one takes this as an actual farewell letter but instead a glimpse inside my mind.

It’s so hard to be Black in this country even in 2016 - we’re still not able to freely voice our opinions and beliefs without being berated for it. Yet with all of our social issues going on, there is one topic that is never touched upon in the Black community: Depression. We lose so many of our own to Depression every year and we never seem to address the issue head on. Depression and Suicide was always seen as a “white-people-problem” instead of a PEOPLE PROBLEM and I believe that is where we went wrong.

Since I was a little kid I always had this feeling of despair hanging over my head. I’ve always known that I wanted to do and be something great but this horrible horrible feeling would start to wash over me. I always knew I was a little different than other kids because of things seen in the past and through different life experiences. I was always kind of teased and picked on for my weight, height, clothing and for being quiet. I had this thing where I didn’t want to be noticed in fear that I’d get picked on so I’d pretty much do my best to always arrive first to classes, sit all the way in the back corner seats and pretty much never raise my hand. If I was ever running late to my classes I’d end up skipping them in fear that I’d walk in late and be embarrassed in front of the entire class. 

I’d managed to make my way through middle school like this but things didn't start to get really bad until about my freshman year in high school. As a freshman I made it my business to never be in class. I’d go to the ones I excelled in like English and History but for the most part I’d find solace in the handicap stall of the girls bathroom. I’d just sit in the bathroom for hours, waiting and thinking about shit. I’d hated school so much that skipping became my day to day routine.
This period of my life was probably the worst I’ve seen so far. It was around this time my father had been released from prison after being incarcerated for 15 to 16 years of my life. We hadn’t had a relationship prior to his release other than the 2 to 3 yearly visits my grandma would take us on and 3 minute phone calls every other day. 

I ended up getting expelled from school that year and transferring to an alternative school. One of the last days at the school I got expelled from I remember so vividly. My mom was late to pick my brother and I up from Albertsons after school like she always would. I kept calling her trying to figure out why she was so late. When she finally pulled up I saw my dad was driving and she in the passengers seat. I got in behind her and my brother sat behind him. Once in the car I said “You’re late” and that’s when he got out of the drivers seat and started walking around the front of the car to my door and my mom said “Kiana you better lock your door.” Being the hard head I am, I didn’t because I figured what the fuck could he do, hit me? That day and every other day replays in my head every time I think about writing him back, or talking to him on the phone or even forgiving him for all the shit he not only put me through, but my family too.

I remember a loud, hard crack and a hot heat on my face - my favorite once yellow Rocawear shirt was now stained red. Blood surged from my mouth furiously. I remember my mom then jumping the drivers seat and pulling over further away from people (who had seen the entire thing). I remember being parked next to a taxi cab driver with 2 men in it just staring at me. I felt so hopeless. I had thoughts about jumping out of the car and running into oncoming traffic hoping someone would save me but I was paralyzed. My mom called my Uncle Greg to pick me up and he showed up like he always did; He’d do anything for my brother and I. We rode in silence to my grandmothers house where he took me. I remember walking past her with my bloodied face and shirt and she asking me what I’d done. I stayed in my room for days after that - I didn’t speak to anyone and no one to I. 

By the time I healed I’d already started at my new school. Things got worse and my thoughts got louder so I began drinking to not feel so much. I’d drink before bed, before school and after. I couldn’t cope with all the shit that was happening. My father began terrorizing the very people I cared about. When people wouldn’t respond the way he wanted he would flip out and try to make them hurt probably worst than what he hurt inside. I remember him telling my brother to wash the dishes and my brother forgot to do and it when he confronted him and asked why and didn’t get an answer he liked, he knocked him to the ground and stomped on his head LIKE HE WAS IN PRISON. I’m talking about a 6’5 250 pound man folks. You mad about dishes fam? I remember seeing him punch my mom in the face like he did me and us all getting on the bus with her to try and make it home so she could get to a hospital. I remember him punching me in the head after me not greeting him when I got home. My right ear is still fucked up after that but I say all of this to say - you never really know some of the things people have went through.

All of these experiences and more made me up to be the woman I am today but it’s hard to not look at all the bullshit and wanna give up. What’s harder is to decide to ignore all these things and let them play in your mind. I’ve always been a quiet person and I’ve always tended to shy away from letting people into my struggles and things I've been through. I’ve told very few people these experiences in fear that once I’d shown my truth and professed my depression and suicidal thoughts that I’d be dismissed and shooed away. Its sad to say but, this has happened every time. “You’ll be fine” they said. “Black people don’t kill themselves” they said. “It’s not that bad” they said. No one should have to ever argue and fight for a loved ones approval or support for them when they say “HEY I NEED HELP.”

We gotta change this asinine double standard that only whites can be depressed and seek help and blacks should just “get over it.” We’re losing too many of our people as it is to police brutality and senseless gun violence so why continue to stand by when there’s someone openly asking you to help them save their life?! Talking openly about depression is hard as it is - be open and receptive to what it is that person is telling you. Chances are, they’re coming to confide in you because you mean a great deal to them and they value your opinion.

I still have days where I kind of start thinking about all the things in my past - and those can be hard - but then I think about all the things I want to do in this world and how much my Uncle Greg would be proud of me - and I can then breathe a little easier. 

It takes a strong ass person to stand up to depression.