I woke up to news that singer Simone Battle died at the tender age of 25. I didn’t know much about her outside of what various headlines told me but when I saw her face, a sense of dread came over me. She was beautiful, had a great career and to the public’s knowledge, no physical illnesses. A woman that young with those qualities doesn’t typically drop dead and my instincts knew that so they gave me a conclusion that I didn’t want. That aforementioned dread turned into despair as I started to see headlines with the words “of an apparent suicide” at the end that confirmed what my heart seemed to already know.
Simone Battle took her life.
Another young and successful Black woman died at her own hands.
Just like blogger Karyn Washington and countless others that tried to play the strong Black woman until they couldn’t take it anymore. There are millions of others that are still suffering silently from mental illness because they don’t want to be deemed weak or crazy.
I’m one of them and that’s why these deaths affect me so deeply.
I have been stuck in my house all day because hearing about Simone knocked the wind out of me. I’m not nearly as successful as she is yet she felt the need to take her life and I’m still here. I bust my ass as a food service worker, college has been an uphill battle and I’m broke but I’m still here. I wish I could give some inspirational nugget about why I’m still here and say I haven’t thought about suicide but I can’t. Hell, I can’t even say it’s been a long time since I’ve thought about it. Depression has a way of making the simplest things extremely difficult. For most people, getting up, brushing their teeth and taking a shower is instinctual. For someone with depression, it can be a small victory because at least you got the hell up.
Depression makes the future seem like a fantasy. You can tell someone that it will get better but depression says you’ll find some way to fuck up and make things worse. It can’t be prayed away and ignoring it will only work for so long. Next thing you know, you’ve been in bed all week and only get up when you have to piss or eat, that is, if you have an appetite. Society makes depression seem like a case of the sads or the blues but I’m here to tell you, that it makes life hard to live. Every time a prominent person takes their life, people start rambling about how we need to talk about mental illness for about a day and then the conversation tapers off until the next incident. If we’re going to talk about mental illness, we really need to talk about it. After we’re done talking, we need to act. Mental illness affects everyone differently and mental healthcare needs to cater to those differences. Everyone cannot afford to go to some swanky ass office in the white side of town for healthcare. I’m lucky if I can afford to get my monthly MARTA card and if I wasn’t on my mama’s insurance, getting my happy pills would be a chore.
Additionally, a person’s relationship with oppression makes them more or less susceptible to mental illness. If you are of color, non-heterosexual/cisgendered, low-income, not male or any combination of those, you’re more likely to be mentally ill. You’re also less likely to get adequate treatment for it. This is one of many reasons why I do this social justice shit despite some of my reservations because it is a life or death thing for me and millions of other people. Conversations about mental illness shouldn’t only happen when we are mourning someone. We have to keep having them or more people will die.
I don’t want it to be someone I know or me.