When I Felt Like There Was No Point in Existing
From “Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope” by Karamo Brown. Copyright © 2019 by Karamo Brown. Reprinted by permission of Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Inc.
I remember the first time I finally did drugs by myself. I ordered coke, and I did it by myself in the house.
I knew that this meant I had a problem. Not that it wasn’t a problem when I was doing it with others, too, but my needing to do coke alone really emphasized how bad it was. I had watched the American reality series “Intervention” for years, and every time I saw the person at their lowest point, they were by themselves in some corner. I realized: Here I am, alone, emaciated, doing coke by myself in my apartment. There’s just me and a bag of coke. That’s all I have. I was depressed and having suicidal ideations. I wanted to die.
I couldn’t see a point in living. I was unhappy with traveling; my relationship with my father was done; I had lost my boyfriend. My family was mad at me because I was using drugs openly. I was lonely and alone. Life seemed like it was over.
So I attempted to kill myself.
My decision to attempt suicide is not something that happened overnight. If I’m honest with myself, I believe the dark feelings I had about myself began very early on in my life. I remember being in high school and feeling very sad and down based on something someone would say to me, or something that was going on in my family. It was never bad enough to keep me from interacting in life or make me want to hurt myself. But those feelings were always there, following me around like a shadow that was waiting to be acknowledged.
This continued throughout college and even during my move to California. Pockets of sadness would just appear in my life and sometimes feel overwhelming, but the majority of times they’d just feel like a nagging gnat flying around me. The thing about mental health that’s similar to physical health is that you continuously have to check in with your mind, just as you check in with your body. You have to allow yourself the space to figure out what’s going on with you so you can grow through it.
I never gave myself that space. I would happily talk about starting a new workout routine or diet but never about how I felt sad or depressed sometimes, how I was riddled with anxiety, or the fact that during moments of celebration, I felt like I wanted to be home alone by myself. Then there would be an occasion when something bad would actually happen. This could be an argument with someone in my life, a problem at a job, an issue with my finances, or myriad other situations. I would think to myself — never expressing it out loud — that I wanted to die just to escape it all. That harmful language would pop into my mind like chalk on a blackboard.
That’s the thing about depression. As more bad things happened in my life, I felt more overwhelmed; I felt buried and alone. I seemed happy to the outside world because I always smiled through the mental and emotional pain, but when I was by myself driving home from work, I would have these random thoughts, like, What would it be like if I weren’t even here? Would anybody even care? My mind was filled with questions that only led me to feel as if there was no hope in life.
It wasn’t until I added both liquor and drugs to the mix that the chemistry with suicide was ignited — and caused all my issues to be amplified. The loneliness, anxiety, and sadness became one hundred times worse. The chemical toll that the drugs had on my already fragile mind exploded.
After doing drugs, I would be trapped in my room for hours upon hours, days upon days, just wanting life to end and thinking of possible ways to make that happen. It didn’t start with me saying, I’ll kill myself. It initially started as, Well, if something bad happens to me, I deserve it. This could be a car accident, or something where my heart stops beating from the drugs — anything of that nature.
Eventually, I realized that though I was playing Russian roulette with my life, the universe was not catching up to what I was hoping would happen to me. So I began to toy with small ways that I could hurt myself. Though I had these deep, dark feelings of wanting to leave this earth, it was only in moments of being intensely drunk or high that I actually felt that maybe I could take the steps to do it.
One day, I finally attempted suicide. It happened only once, but I am reluctant to go into detail about what happened next, out of the fear that I could give someone who is struggling with depression or having suicidal thoughts a plan to take their own life. Instead, I encourage anyone who is reading this to just remember that in those moments of darkness, there is hope, joy, and sunlight on the other side of these dark feelings. I beg you to take one step today, in this moment, and just ask for help from someone around you who you trust. Call an anonymous hotline that can provide you with help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273- 8255, and the Crisis Text Line offers free twenty-four-hour support when you text HOME to 741741. Or go to your local emergency room and ask to speak to a counselor or social worker about the feelings you’re having.
During that dark time, I felt like my life was over. There was no point in existing. But I was given a second chance to accept support and to ask for help, and today I am living my dreams and am surrounded by love. Each day is a new day for me to continue to focus on my mental health. The same way that people get up and go to the gym to make sure their body gets exercised, or try to eat healthier, I continuously make decisions to make sure that my mind is strong — and that I am making sure I know I am worthy of living a good life.
Image provided by Simon & Schuster