I just wanted everything to stop. Everything. All the pain, internal turmoil, emotions, other people’s opinions and expectations, obligations…EVERYTHING. I needed the world to stop spinning and my mind to stop suffocating me. Ending my life seemed like the only option as I inched closer to the edge of a train platform late one night.

I was tired.

Quietly breaking under the weight of being “strong.” All the prayer, positive thinking and pep talks in the world weren’t making it better. I was completely done.

As the train approached, I had a few seconds to choose. Something compelled me to give it another moment. That this moment I was experiencing would soon pass and that there were other, better moments on the other side of this pain. I backed away from the edge, literally and figuratively, through a strength I can only attribute to God and a brief moment of clarity that maybe there was another way. What I was feeling wasn’t something to be taken lightly, and I didn’t need to try harder on my own to fix it. I needed help. A hospitalization and months of therapy would soon follow.

Recovery isn’t just some act of willpower – it’s work.

Wishful, positive thinking or willpower is not enough. Pretending everything is fine is no longer an option. I am in relentless pursuit of self-care. I am doing the work through therapy, prayer and coping strategies to maintain my “better” no matter how hard the work may be sometimes. I didn’t see it at the time, but I could live a life where my thoughts and emotions didn’t drain the life out of me. Looking back, I can see that I survived the worst, and potentially final, moment of my life. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I’m here. I do not regret still being here. I do not regret being present.

The most beautiful thing to come out of this experience is that in the time of chaos, I found community — groups of people who share their stories, advocate for others, and support the journey back to wholeness.

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day.

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Photo: Courtesy of Rweshaun Miller, Founder and Executive Director of Eustress, Inc.

Rwenshaun Miller, founder and executive director of Eustress, Inc., is one member of that community who is raising awareness this month. Miller’s ‘Let’s Talk About It’ series has a simple premise – mental health awareness begins with a conversation. ‘Let’s Talk About It’ brings people together to spark conversation on how we can support each other through times of mental and emotional stress while also providing strategies to manage and reduce negative stress by transferring it into positive stress, also known as eustress.

Miller says, “No one is exempt from experiencing the effects of being mentally distressed; ranging from individuals who live with a mental illness to the individuals who support them. Without open dialogue on the topic, many will continue to suffer in silence. The stigma remains because of various factors. There is a lack of education surrounding the subject, including diagnosis, treatment and recovery, especially in the black community.”

To counteract that lack of education and defeat the stigma in our community, Miller is hosting/coordinating a digital panel on September 24th. The ‘#LetsTalkAboutIt – RECOVERY: A Journey, Not A Destination’ panel will bring together mental health and wellness coaches, as well as individuals who have lost a loved one due to substance abuse, to engage in an open dialogue about the importance of supporting each other through recovery from mental stress and destructive behaviors.

Eustress, Inc. is also working in conjunction with ‘Painted Virgin,’ a soon-to-be-released play that unpacks the complex relationship between Madonna and Basquiat while exploring issues of substance abuse, to create a Mental Health Awareness Toolkit. The toolkit will be designed to provide all communities with resources to initiate an open conversation about mental stress, specifically as it relates to suicide prevention and substance abuse awareness. The toolkit will be provided to patrons of Painted Virgin in the PlayBill, and presented by the play’s cast during workshops that will occur at schools throughout NYC to increase awareness about these issues. You can contact Eustress, Inc. or Painted Virgin to learn more.

There are more than 800,000 suicides worldwide per year according to the American Association of Suicidology as part of World Suicide Prevention Day. Efforts like the ‘Let’s Talk About It’ series are an important piece of the awareness efforts happening this month.

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. All week, activist groups and support groups have tweeted, shared, and held workshops to encourage open dialogue on mental health awareness. Perhaps if we continue to talk and continue to share, we can help other members of the community fight this battle and take important steps in their mental health journey. Join the movement by sharing your story with the hashtag #LetsTalkAboutIt

How will you plan to support and raise awareness for World Suicide Prevention Day? Share in the comments below or join the hashtag #LetsTalkAboutIt online.

Photo: artwithimpact.org

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