At age 22 I was just getting a formal diagnosis of major depressive disorder. In retrospect, I realize that I experienced my first depressive episode when I was 19 but it was not until age 22, that my ability to function completely broke down. Over the next two years, I became increasingly isolated while a pain that I can only describe as what I imagined it would feel like to be outside in a hail storm with no skin pervaded my entire being. My ability to envision a future ceased and then slowly, slowly entered those early suicidal thoughts. The idea that death would be a relief (from all this pain) became a common refrain.
The news of Karyn Washington’s death graced my inbox 3 days ago when a dear friend and fellow social media maven forwarded a link to an article sharing the tragic news. I felt a pang of despair and pondered over this loss. I did not know the ForBrownGirls.com and #DarkGirlsRedLip project founder and was scarcely familiar with her wonderful work. Nevertheless, the fact that this generous and creative young spirit decided to take her own life was clearly a tragedy. Here is yet another opportunity to implore Black women…to implore all women of color to speak up and speak out about their battles with mood disorders and other mental illnesses.