If you were to go back in time and ask my high school friends or teachers how they’d describe me, they would say I’m funny, spirited, and weird. This is the facade I created to hide how much I was hurting on the inside. But it is true, I was a lively and weird girl. However, I was also very sad and angry and lonely, and that is something I only ever shared with one friend.
I have many reasons that I am alive right now, and one of those reasons is Besnik, one of my long time and closest friends. From the outside, people saw Besnik as my right-hand man and I his right-hand woman. We would act a fool in classes we had together, study sessions in the library, and defend each other in times of need. However, people did not know that Besnik was my emotional and mental support system. Late at night, we chatted on A.I.M. and I would confess to him all of the things I saw wrong with myself, intricate details of my life, my anger and sadness, and how much I thought I didn’t deserve to live. Besnik never got fed up with me (well, at least he didn’t show it) and continued to help me stay strong and optimistic and suggest ways that I could get better. Besnik is one of the reasons why I did not take my own life as a teenager and I will forever love him for that.
No, I did not cut myself, or overdose on pills. But I was an emotionally tortured girl. I rather not get into all the details, but a large factor for my depression was the fact that I did not fit in. I didn’t fit in with the Black kids, who mostly came on buses from the inner city, because they said I “acted White.” And although I connected with my White friends because of our similar interests, I always felt that my Blackness was a brick wall standing in between us. Being an introspective person, I played thousands of scenarios in my head as to why I was sad, and unpopular, and overlooked. “Did she not invite me to the concert with her because I’m Black? Can I not sit at the popular table because I’m Black? Why do they not like me, they barely know me. Is it because I’m Black? Are they hiding the fact that they’re racist? Etc. Etc.” My high school was not diverse. It was approximately 90% White. After kindergarten, I moved from Baltimore to Southington, from a predominantly Black school to a Predominantly White school. I went from being one of many, to one of… well, just one. I say this because I was the only Black person in my elementary school. Not the only Black student, the only Black person. I was the only Black being in my school and didn’t meet another Black student until Middle school. The feeling I felt is equivalent to floating alone in outer space.
So, on top of my introspective thoughts, calculating all of the possible reasons that I wasn’t friends with this person or that, I was also being hounded with constant remarks about my how I was an Oreo, didn’t talk Black, how my lack of care for rap music and love of Coldplay made me White, etc. That’s a lot for a little girl to deal with. In addition to the students, I got ignorant remarks from teachers as well. Ms. Polonio, who was my AP US History teacher, upon to topic of slavery, said to the class, “Today we are going to being talking about slavery. We clearly have an elephant in the room because Tanaye is Black (I, of course, was the only Black person in most of my advanced classes). Tanaye, is there anything you would like to say?” Yes. This is not a fib. She really said this. And Besnik, who is Albanian, was sitting right next to me and looked over at me in disbelief that our teacher had just virtually put the weight several hundred years of Slavery onto my shoulders and handed me a metaphorical microphone to represent that entire African American community and speak on the entire community’s behalf.
A few months later, I was at my wits end. My brain had short circuited, my emotions were fried and I was ready to relieve myself of any more internal pain. I had been contemplating killing myself for years, but not on an extremely serious level. However, this time I was for real. One Monday, after school when no one was home, I sat on the kitchen counter with a knife held to my neck. I couldn’t do it. On Tuesday, I spaced out in all of my classes and thought of how I was going to end my life. Pills or hanging? By lunchtime, I decided to use pills. And the period after, I started crying in the middle of class and the teacher excused me so I could go to the guidance counselor. I held myself together and sat in a chair in her office. She asked me what was wrong. After a few minutes of silence, I slowly told her, “I’m going to kill myself.” She said that since I told her of my plan, it was clear that I truly didn’t want to kill myself, and could possibly be looking for help before I took my life. I agreed that I really didn’t want to die, but didn’t want to live either. She told me she would call my parents and tell them and I said okay. I went back to class.
As loving and caring as my parents are, in this situation, they did not help me the way I needed. They sat me down that night and told me how big of a future I had, and how much they loved me, support me, and would also be there when I needed encouragement or help. I appreciated it. They even offered for me to see a therapist, which I agreed with. However, I never saw any type of therapist or counselor. The whole situation was never brought up again after that night. I, instead, was touched by an Angel many months later. You can read more about that story at Brazen Backbone, my advice column for suicidal, depressed, and bullied teens. Read it here.
Looking back, I am thankful I didn’t take my life. There has always been a part of me that felt I was destined for greatness. I still have yet to see a therapist, but those plans are in the near future. I am no longer depressed, however, in college there were a couple of times where I felt those feelings coming back. I thank my ex and now good friend, Donavan, for helping me through those times. To end my story, I urge everyone to respect those who are clinically depressed, suicidal, or suffering from another mental illness. Everyone’s story is different. If you are greeted with a friend who says they feel like killing themselves, please do not take it as a joke. I did, my sophomore of high school, and lost my friend Steve Rovillo. Call the police, or a person you can confide in and get your friend help. Most importantly, #StayBrazen.