“Why fit when you were born to stand out.” ~Dr. Seuss
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it about learning to dance in the rain.” ~ Anonymous
An associate of mines posted a picture last week on Instagram® that was a bit alarming. It was a photo of an article that listed statistics in relations to the suicide rate of African-Americans in 2007 and 82% of 1,958 African-American’s who died as a result of suicide were male. That’s a total of 1,605.56 men gone too soon. These are our brothers, nephews, uncles, cousins, and fathers that have checked out of life for reasons many of us will never know.
I’m no expert. However, I can speak from experience. I’m going to today share some info about myself that only a few people know about. But I’ve been healed, delivered, and set free. In order for me to continue to be blessed in my healing, I have to reach back and help others were they hurt.
In 2007, I was one of those that did not make that statistic. That was a time in my life that I was very dark. I was under a lot of pressure both at home and at work. I was working full time, going to school full time, and working full time in ministry. But my ministry at home was falling apart at the seams. My wife at the time was fighting hard on issues that I refused to lose ground on. The more we fought the worse my world around me crumbled. One night in the mist of an argument with my ex-wife something snapped. She walked away to take a phone call and I went in the bedroom. I could tell the tone of the conversation was in relation to me and how the person (or people) on the line felt about me. From the sound of it, she was buying into all that they were saying and wasn’t standing by me, her husband, at all. The longer she talked the more my anxiety began to get the best of me. Before, I’d realized what I’d done it. I’d swallowed a whole 24 count bottle of Excedrin Migraine.
It didn’t take long for me come back to myself and I immediately had an Olivia Pope moment and asked “What did you do?” (My Scandal fans know the scene.) I tried to give my ex-wife and her followers what they wanted. I told her in the morning it will all be over and they would never have to deal with me again. I fought her on going to the hospital. We yelled and screamed at each other all the way there. They put a 72 hour psych hold on me and I thought that if I survived any or all of that situation that my world would really come crashing down because of that poor decision in the heat of the moment was going to cost me everything; my apartment, my job, my family and friends. I wanted to die. But God had other plans for me.
It would be four more years before I would begin realized what led me to make that move that night. I could blame my ex-wife. I could blame my supervisor. But there was no single outside source that caused my momentary lapse in judgment.
Many of the same feels that I felt that night resurfaced in 2010 – 2011. By this point, I’d moved to Columbus, Ohio to begin my life anew post divorce. I thought that if I had a fresh start then things would be so much better. But really, it brought out all the underline issues that I – like most suicide victims – was dealing with whether I knew it or not.
Depression….its full of so many other emotions and for men it often goes undetected until it’s too late. We are taught to be tough, be strong, never show a sign of weakness. But is it really a sign of weakness when you no longer can lean on your on strength and you know you need help?
Depression looks different on men than it does on women. Heck, it actually looks different from person to person. Not all victims of depression sit around and cry all day, turn to drugs, lock themselves in their house and cut the rest of the world off. The person standing over your shoulder reading this article with you may be depressed but it possible that you wouldn’t know it unless they told you.
Living in a new city where you only know your co-workers and maybe a few others, you begin to feel lonely, isolated, like you have no one else in your corner, like the world has forgotten about you. Those feeling and emotions can be amplified when your loved ones appear to have moved on with life without you. I missed my mom, my sisters, my nieces and nephew. I wanted to hang out with my best friends. I missed the power of the Word of God being delivered at my home church. My extended family was beginning to get close again like we were when we were kids. I wanted to be a part of that.
My mother told me as I was packing up to move, “Son, you know that I’ve been were you are.” She’d packed me and my sisters up and moved from the only home she’d known for a fresh start some 20 years earlier. “Baby, if you can make it through those first three years, you will be in a good place.” And she was right, the first three years were the hardest. Once I got over that hump, I was able to see my way. “But, don’t be afraid to come home if you have to.” And boy did I want to go home. I wanted to go home because of all that I was missing. I knew that was not the place that God needed me to be at that moment. If I’d gone back when I wanted too, I don’t know if I would be alive today. There was so much going on in my life when I left there, I don’t know that I would’ve survived if I went back at that time.
God needed me to be in a place where I could hear him. Not that I wasn’t hearing him in Milwaukee. But I was easily distracted by my life’s conundrums to clearly understand the direction that He wanted me to go in.
Fellas, please listen to me. I know it gets hard for us. I said before that we are trained from a young age to never show a sign of weakness, never give in to defeat. Don’t wear your emotions on your sleeve, no one should ever be able to look at you and see your hurt or pain. But that’s not being the man that God want us to be. We want us to be the man of our wife’s dreams, a hero to our daughters, and a gentleman for our sons to model themselves after. We can’t be all that and all that we want to be if we are holding everything in. Drinking out pain away is not working. Drugs will only dull the hurt for the moment. Womanizing is only a temporary satisfaction. True healing, real deliverance comes in realizing that this is a Goliath that I can not take down with just a sling shot. There is help. There are people you can talk too that will not spread your sorrow all over town. There are people who genuinely care about your well being and only want to see that you are healed, set free and walking in your deliverance.
If you don’t feel comfortable talk to or you don’t feel that you significant other will understand how you feel, there are resources out there that you can talk to. Check with your human resource department at work. You may have access to a professional counselor through your Employee Assistance Program. If you are a member of a local church, call the church office to see how soon you can get on the calendar to meet with your pastor or some one in the counseling department. If you don’t feel comfortable dealing with your home church, call another church to see if you have to be a member there to meet with a member of the pastoral staff. If that’s not enough there are other options.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days week with people that are willing to help you. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) any time and they can just talk with you or will refer you to someone that can help. You can also contact 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433).
Please remember, you are not in this a lone.