This morning as I was getting ready for church, I face timed with one of my best friends from undergrad; who in reality kept me from going insane. Her name is Shanda. Per usual we were reminiscing and revisiting our friendship, when I asked her if she remembered the day she pulled me out of the shower… Her response was: “Yea bro I do remember. And I’d pull you out of the shower again and again if you needed me too”…
And she did.
I have always been too embarrassed to ask for help, for someone to listen, or even for someone to not judge me for a split second. Dealing with anxiety and depression is a unique type of concoction than one may be accustomed to. Shanda never did judge me. Neither did our other friends Kiyonna, Elena, and Zoe. In life you meet people who are placed to do nothing but simply sit with you if need be, uplift you, and keep you from drowning. These four ladies at Penn State were my girls. My sisters. My angels. The day Shanda pulled me out of the shower was just another day in which I battled with myself. My depression was paralyzing, and my anxiety was suffocating… I remember hearing the water hit my numb body, and not being able to plant my feet firmly on the shower ground to get the hell up. “Brittany get up”. But I knew it was easier said than done. I sat in that hot shower crying for a good 15 minutes, before my pride finally enabled me to cave in. I remember reaching for my phone that I had placed on the ground adjacent to my tub to call her. As usual she picked up, and as my voice cracked with emotions I told her to please come get me.
“Is your door unlocked?”
I don’t think a minute passed before I heard my front door open. My depression was paralyzing, and my anxiety was suffocating me. Shan pulled me out of the shower that evening, and got me dressed. She took me downstairs, fed me, and sat with me until I fell asleep on my already inflated air mattress.
“Sometimes the best medication is no medication”
For at least three months I slept on an air mattress in Ki, E, and Shan’s apartment (Zoe lived on campus), because I simply could NOT be alone. I lived exactly one floor up from them, and I could not be alone. Can you believe that? Nights were always the worst, and attempting to have a “normal” one seemed inevitable at that point in my life. It’s something about being alone with my wandering thoughts that set my body into frenzy. To this day, nights are still an issue. I would lie in bed ruminating on all of my flaws, until I either cried myself to sleep, or went apartment 428.
Medications don’t always come in the forms we picture them to. Medications can be pills, therapy, God, and even friendships. Medications can either help you or harm you. When I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I was prescribed Zoloft and Ativan. One was for regulating my emotions (not officially stabilizing them), and the other was to keep my anxiety from suffocating me. Both helped the first few weeks until I became dependent in a way that made me uncomfortable. So I came cut them off. My friends were my medication that I needed. We laughed, cried, and prayed together. I felt safe with my girls. Being prescribed a pill to take twice a day until you can handle your normal routine is not how I wanted to live my life. Neither anxiety nor depression goes away overnight. I did not see myself being dependent on medicine that only masked my sickness. Genuine friendships with genuine people who care about my existence were my medication I needed. “Bro stay here as long as you need.” I never met individuals who gravitated to one another and loved one another so heavily like I did when I met my girls. It was as if God placed all four of them in my life to help me help myself.
An issue we face as women of color is that we are too prideful to ask for help. Or we can’t have genuine gal friends, because society teaches us to always be in a constant competition with them. It stops now. We need to love, uplift, and help one another. There is no coincidence that I met these gals during my lowest times… Positive social support has proven results of longevity, lowered levels of stress, depression, bipolar syndrome, PTSD anxiety etc. What a beautiful thing it would be if women leaned one another. My friends and I pray together, laugh together, and if needed we’ll sit in pure silence together. My medication was not a pill, it was them