By: Quin Elliott
“Quin you need to talk to someone, you have to get help you’re not healthy, this is not okay”. My best friend and I were screaming at each other after another argument over my ex, who had somehow caused another area in my life to spin out of control without even noticing or caring; maybe a combination of both. I was in denial, me depressed? I couldn’t be. I was the one who kept everyone else out of depression I was the one always smiling and you think I’m depressed? But the truth was I really hadn’t felt like myself in a while and somehow every time a period of depression in my life was triggered, he had something to do with it.
I continued to defend him and swear that he wasn’t the same guy in private that he was around them his mutual friends. “If he doesn’t love you in public then it’s only lust in private”. I didn’t want to hear those words but deep down, I knew that I had wasted 6 yeas of my life in a cycle of being in love with someone who only saw me for entertainment.
I was getting tired of his refusal to be more than friends with benefits and trying to move on after I got tired only to fall back in when he would contact me months later. I had allowed someone to gain so much control over me that if I didn’t talk to him, my entire demeanor would change, I would be irritable or emotional to the point where I would cry myself to sleep.
Talking to him was beginning to become a necessity for me and a chore for him. If I wasn’t talking to him then I just didn’t feel wanted, I know what you’re thinking, ‘that’s not healthy’ and it wasn’t but all I cared about was being valued. Valued not by someone that shared those feelings of intimacy with me but by someone who never had any interest in committing to me period.
It didn’t matter that he blatantly told me multiple times whenever we took a break that he didn’t see himself being more than friends with me because the next day we would have our clothes off. He was my first everything, how was I supposed to let him go? I knew him since I was 16, we literally shared best friends so whenever I did find the strength to leave I couldn’t avoid him because we hung out with the same people.
I did try the counselor thing ashamed of having to resort to a shrink but I didn’t have many other options, our relationship was spiraling out of control. Seeing a counselor helped for a while but eventually he was able to trap me again. I didn’t know where I went wrong, I found myself constantly asking my friends and even myself what was wrong with me? Why didn’t he want me? I gave him everything; I gave him all of me.
I had let my love for him cause me to forget the most important thing in this equation, me. I was forgetting that me and my happiness were important too. Someone once told me, ‘You can’t successfully find love until you love yourself,’ and I didn’t love myself. I hated myself because the validation that I was searching for from this individual was void, it wasn’t possible because I wasn’t even validated in the eyes of myself.
The final time I broke things off with him was the hardest, I saw him with someone else. He was holding another girls hand walking around campus carefree when he NEVER held my hand after 6 years of stringing me along. This girl that he hadn’t known 6 months was getting the validation from him that I so desperately wanted. I just finally had to accept that after 6 years of defending with this person, he was the cause of my depression, I could blame him. He had his cake and ate if with me for 6 years, only to not think of my feelings enough to tell me that he friend zoned me for another girl.
I still cry to this day thinking of the days that followed that triggering moment, I didn’t go to work, I didn’t go to class, I didn’t eat for days; I had to take Nyquil just to go to sleep for a couple hours. I couldn’t trust anyone anymore and I didn’t want to see anyone anymore. I was paranoid about everything, and even began to feel as if my friends were all out to get me which lead me to having a falling out with all of my close friends and roommate which resulted in me being broken even more. I had no one, I didn’t have him, I didn’t have anything.
I contemplated just giving up but I feared death too much to go through with suicide. I spent the next 3 months hiding my depression behind staying busy. I would wakeup go to work at 8, class and gym in between, go home only to change and go to the library until 4am only to start the cycle over again the next day. This schedule continued exactly as is except on weekends where I would lay in the dark all day and cry until my eyes were swollen shut.
I hadn’t made my bed in months, I barely had time to do laundry and my sorority sisters and little friends that I had left were growing more and more concerned about my health but I made no time for their concern or a counselor. I kept myself so busy that I didn’t even put sheets on my bed after doing laundry one day in early March, I went to bed for a couple hours a night on a bare mattress. I went from one extreme to another.
Losing all these people that I thought were permanent in my life was devastating, it was just like they all got together one day and we’re just like ‘let’s just let her go, she’s not worth the trouble anymore’ I had been friends with these people just as long as I had been with my ex and we had gone to both high school and college together. I called these people my best friends and some of them literally had no other reason to give up on me other than ‘it’s just not there for us anymore’.
Even up to the day of my college graduation, life just seemed to not show any signs of improvement. My entire family even my dad who was in the city didn’t feel like my actual commencement was important enough to attend so while everyone else at VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) stood outside the Richmond Colosseum taking pictures with their families and their best friends who traveled near and far to watch them on one of the most important days of their lives, I feigned happiness.
I posed for pictures with my sorority sisters and a few classmates and acted like I was used to acting for almost a year, like everything was normal. Instead of going to lunch with my family before my graduation ceremony I went home to cry, I laid in my bed in my cap and gown and I let it all out only to get up, fix my makeup and proceeded to my graduation ceremony to greet my always late family and my clueless friends making sure I looked completely satisfied with my life.
That day was the last day I let depression get to me. I decided that depression is the friend that overstays their welcome because you act like you want them there instead of telling them to get the hell out. I went back to my hometown to stay with my mom and work and I gave up on trying to mend any relationships, if they were meant to be then the time to mend them would come. I went to church every Sunday and prayed every night to make it out. I figured out that the reason all of my physical relationships were staggering was because my spiritual one had become nonexistent. I focused on spiritual growth and loving myself, not man and I let all else come naturally.
I read books, wrote poetry, took on sewing, wig making and any thing productive and used those things to inspire me in life. I started looking at the silver lining in things, especially in the events that had occurred while my depression was at its worst. I had stayed in the library over night to avoid being in my room which was a triggering location for me but that led me to having a 3.5 GPA for the first time ever during college. I also made the dean’s list and recovered from the academic mistakes I made my freshman year.
What was my worse semester emotionally and mentally resulted in being my best semester academically. I lost friends, but it forced me to grow closer to my sorority sisters. I won regional awards with them, I cried with them, and they helped me fall in love with life again. I picked up extra work hours in between classes to distract myself from depression but I now had money saved. I was so focused on the negatives during those times that I couldn’t see the positives, I couldn’t see that the sun was trying to peek through the storm clouds and I was ignoring it.
I used to cry because I saw no way out but now I cry because I’m proud of myself for surviving, I cry just because I can’t remember the last time I cried myself to sleep. Do you know how good that feels? To ask yourself when the last time you balled your eyes out and hid the tissue under your pillow or when the last time you had to apply concealer to your eye bags the morning after a cry session? I don’t remember it’s been that long.
I found out that my purpose is to use those lessons to help other black women who are going through what I went through, searching for acceptance from the wrong people. I went through a lot of emotions about actually writing this article because I feared what people would think including my friends and people who didn’t know I went through this because I was so good at hiding it and him. I didn’t want to seem bitter for writing about this because I’m not. Me writing this article is to inspire.
So many black women go through these emotions every day because we live in a society where acceptance doesn’t come naturally, it’s earned. We don’t look like the video vixens or the Instagram models but the most important acceptance is accepting yourself first so others can then accept you. Depression is not permanent, it’s dark, it’s lonely, it’s painful but it is not forever. We have to stop ignoring the sun just because it’s raining. There is a way out but you have to have to fight to win the battle.
I mended a couple of my past relationships but honestly they are forever tarnished. Life gets in the way and some people are only placed in your life to teach you a lesson and then their time is up. Accept that, if someone wants to leave your life, you have to let them go because it’ll bring you hell to keep them.
I tried to keep my ex in my life because I felt like I needed him but the reality is he was in my life to teach me a lesson. He taught me that depending that heavily on validation from another person never has a good outcome, it never results in a healthy relationship only in a world of pain, he also taught me that I would never be validated until I did it for myself.