I woke up this morning and the first thing I saw on my Instagram feed was that Titi Branch, the co-founder of Miss Jessie’s natural hair products, had passed away in an alleged suicide.
Although she was a complete stranger, my heart instantly grew heavy because we lost another magical Black woman. Earlier this year we lost Karyn Washington. I did not know Karyn but her movement to empower young Black women was something all dark skinned girls needed.
When I was much younger, I started battling with severe self-esteem issues and exhibited what I can see now as symptoms of depression. Mental health issues are not something you discuss in the Haitian community. You go to church and pray, God will fix it. You have clothes on your back, food on the table, and a roof over your head, what is there to be sad about? These things were drilled into my head and yet I could not shake the darkness that loomed over me at times.
I was very active in the church, I sang in the choir and attended youth group and yet I had these thoughts. I was ashamed; I lived with both my parents who loved me, I had great friends, and I was a Christian. Did that make me ungrateful?
I scribbled my thoughts down in my diary and I created a fictional world where my life was always better. Even at a young age, writing was my escape.
I had fleeting thoughts of suicide; I thought life would be easier. I am only here today by the grace of God.
I was a sophomore in college when I slipped into my longest period of darkness. I stayed in my room for almost a week, only leaving to attend the classes I could not afford to miss. I ate meals alone and ignored the knocks and the AIMs on my computer. I told everyone I was tired. My friends believed me and left me alone. That was (and still is) the loneliest week of my life and I just sat in my dorm room, crying. I had no idea what was wrong with me.
I did not know who call; I didn’t even where to start.
We are conditioned to believe that as Black women, we are strong and we have to remain strong for everyone. It’s okay to admit we need help.
I definitely do not have the answers, but I do know that taking your life is not the solution.
You have to know, you will be missed. I know in the darkest hours, when the weight of the entire world is on your shoulders, it’s easy to succumb to the feeling that life will simply go on without you.
It will not. Someone will miss you. There will be a gaping hole left in your absence because there is no one else like you.
I never thought about this when I was younger, but I know this now. I truly believe, I would be missed.
Someone’s life will be affected by your death; someone will shed tears over you. You have to stay and fight, no matter what.