Dear Aaron

The worst part of having a Mental Illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.

The Joker

I once had a friend that took his own life. For weeks I wondered why. Why could he not come to me and tell me how he was feeling. What was so bad that the only thing he had left to do was take his life. I was depressed and hurt because I did not understand until I started facing my own truths and taking off my own Mask. After Aaron died, I did the only thing that eases my mind, and that was to write. So, I wrote a letter to Aaron.

Dear Aaron,

          Today I heard some disturbing news that you ended your life. Of course, I did not believe it. You were always happy, and vibrant. You were the last person I would have expected that from. If I would have known you were going through something so severe, I would have simply told you that you are loved. I would want you to know I see you, and I hear you. I understand that sometimes love just isn’t enough. I failed to check on you because I thought if you were smiling you were good, but that wasn’t true. We seen you shine your light on the outside but, on the inside, it must have been dim. Something that we couldn’t see. You showed your strength so no one would see your weakness. I always thought since you were strong that you didn’t need to be checked on. I learned and understand now that that’s a lie, and even you needed to be checked on. I never seen the depressed you. No one could see through your smile long enough to see “to” the pain. You probably went behind closed doors and cried, same as I. You don’t have to cry or hide anymore. You are also not a coward for committing suicide. I’m sure you thought it was your only option, the only way to get pass the pain. Lack of knowledge led you to believe that again suicide was your only choice. If you were here, I would tell you to fight, and to talk to someone. I would tell you that it’s ok as a Black Man to be vulnerable and to seek counseling. I would tell you It is Ok Not to Be Ok. It feels weird to say this, but your death put me on this journey of self healing, learning, and encouraging. I just want to help you all heal while also healing myself. We are on this journey together!

To all the Aaron’s listen clearly the devil doesn’t want you to fight. He want’s you to fail, but you must get up. Dry the tears and put the boxing gloves on and fight for your life because it’s worth it. YOU ARE WORTH IT! I’m speaking from experience I’ve been where you are more than once. At the age of 16 I found myself at my lowest. Just tired of being misunderstood, left out, and feeling unwanted. At the age of 24 I was back to feeling those same issues because I never was able to get to the root of the problem. That’s twice I’ve tried to commit suicide because I tried to handle things on my own. I just brushed the real problem under the rug as we all tend to do. So, although we may brush it under the rug; the rug eventually gets full and everything comes out again. Both of those times I was saved by Grace. Now, I’m not perfect but I’m growing everyday and learning. Learning what triggers you is the key. If it takes writing what makes you mad in a journal do that. Understand there is a reason for everything. That’s the main reason I see a therapist, so I can get to the bottom of what makes me overly sensitive, or quick to be offended. The problem was I never felt heard, but I also didn’t know how to communicate that feeling. If at 16 I didn’t brush my feelings under the rug and talked to someone, it would have saved me a lot of pain and heartache.

We are afraid to take off our mask not just in public but also to our families. I have seen firsthand why that is. When we do try and talk, we get those phrases like, I’ll pray for you, or nothing’s wrong with you that’s just an excuse. Those words stop us from getting help. They have stopped me. Don’t get me wrong prayer is great, but what happens when you don’t put action behind that prayer? Or, when that person doesn’t pray for you? To heal we must put in the work. Nothing comes easy. Therapy is ok, crying is ok, and getting help is ok. Remember that you are loved, and your life is important. If all else fails, feel free to call the 1-800-273-8255. It’s the suicide prevention line, and there is always someone to talk to. I know this may be a lot to take in but feel free to comment or email me for any questions or just to talk to someone. Again, we are on this journey together.

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