I woke up this morning and reached for my phone. My morning ritual is a deep scrolling of Facebook. After a few posts I noticed a familiar name, Karyn Washington. But the post wasn’t from her.
The post declared that Karyn Washington, founder of For Brown Girls and the popular campaign #DarkGirlsRedLip, had committed suicide. I paused and immediately hopped up out of bed. This could not be true. Searching for the answers, or hopefully the lies, I clicked around Facebook. I went to Karyn’s Facebook profile and instantly broke out into an uncontrollable bubble-snot cry.
Her friends and people that knew of her had begun to leave their goodbyes and messages of sorrow. I cried harder.
I cried because I couldn’t save her. I was way too busy saving myself. You see, her story is a reflection of mine.
Rewind to August 2013.
I remember being out somewhere when I received her email. I literally stopped what I was doing to respond to her, something that NEVER happens.
Because I was so deep in my own grieving process, I replied with two posts that I had written. It was all the comfort I could give her at that time. One about how to cope with a loved one who has cancer, and the other piece I had written to read at my mother’s funeral. I confessed to her that I often re read them both to get me through the day. A statement that is still very much true.
We had so much in common. We both were from Baltimore, we both loved beauty and we were entering a deep state of depression.
We exchanged more emails throughout that day. I gave her some tips. Things I wished I had of done when my mother was alive.
Almost a month later, Karyn was on my mind. I wondered if her mom was still with us. More importantly I wondered if Karyn was ok. Because I was not!
You know I bubble-snot cried after reading the email above. Even though I knew what the outcome would be, I was hoping for a miracle. As I did with my mother. I read Karyn’s message and could feel the hurt. It was painful for me because I hurt all over again hearing her story.
Over the holidays we were both sad and deeply depressed. I am not sure if she admitted it to herself. But I knew this feeling I had wasn’t normal, or maybe it was. I reached out again as Turkey Day approached the calendar, just to check on her. She said she had found a meet up in Baltimore that dealt with coping during the holidays and she was also going to church. Looking back I should have asked if she found someone to talk to.
But I think what Karyn needed was honesty! And she needed it from me.
I should have told her I had thought about suicide. That…I think about it daily. That…I wonder how much easier my life would be to not wake up everyday in tears. That…I wonder what my mother is doing without me. Although I’ve never had suicidal ideation (plotted my death), I still wonder what would happen if I just wasn’t here. If life just stopped.
When I heard the news this morning, that’s the first thing I thought. I should have shared my thoughts about living without my mother. And how I didn’t want to. I wanted to join her in heaven. It has too be easier up top.
But I was/am too ashamed to admit it. I can hardly believe that I am even typing it and sharing it with you. But fuck it, I’ve thought about it. Does that make me crazy?! NOPE!
I’ve learned in this past year that it doesn’t. It’s what makes me human. I blame social media a bit. We all try to illustrate these perfect lives. Who really shares the bad days? And more importantly, who doesn’t judge someone when they do?
I checked on her one last time in January 2014. I left my number again, just in case she needed to hear my voice. But Karyn never called.
As I continued to fight off my own depression with cocktails, tears and hugs from my boyfriend Karyn still lived inside of me. Karyn isn’t alone. All too often we look down on Karyn. She’s that unstable creature (insert B word) who hasn’t learned to deal with life’s obstacles. She hasn’t learned how to become this beacon of strength that represents all Black women.
But I am Karyn Washington!
Try and look past my glamorous lifestyle. My perfectly curated Instagram pictures that tell just one side of my life’s story. That big smile I wear, that is usually covered in red matte lipstick, is hard to curate on most days. But I’ve learned to live through the pain. How?
That’s a really good question. I’ve never been to a therapist, and maybe I should have went after my mother died. It’s never too late, perhaps I’ll get there soon. But I’ve found my own comforting rhythm. A beat that soothes my yearn to end it all.
People say all the time, You’re so strong! That’s so far from the truth. I AM WEAK!!! I know that’s what has gotten me through my tragedies. I don’t judge myself for bursting into tears in the middle of a meeting. I don’t judge myself for eating the entire pint of butter pecan ice cream (although I just signed up for the gym)! And I cannot judge myself for not being able to save Karyn.
I live inside of my weak.
Who says I have to be strong? Why do WE have to be strong? FUCK THAT!!! My mother died and I don’t wanna. #IAintGonDoIt (insert laughter because this post is heavy).
I wanna pout for a few minutes. I wanna bubble-snot cry. I wish someone had told Karyn Washington that she didn’t have to be strong. She didn’t have to hold the world’s glaring eyes on her shoulders. That asking for help was ok. No matter how you ask for it, it’s ok.
I’m still nursing my depression with cocktails, tears and hugs from my boyfriend so no need to worry (that much). I just thought you’d like to know that there’s a little Karyn Washington in us all!