My Struggle With Mental Illness

Generic image (Thinkstock)
Generic image (Thinkstock)

In the wake of actor Lee Thompson Young's apparent recent suicide, Diamond Sharp courageously shares her story of dealing with mental illness on her Tumblr blog, Shepherds Not Sheep. Her piece addresses a sad reality: Even the most successful people, who seem to have it all together, can suffer from mental illness and commit suicide.

I know a few things about suicide. I’ve never attempted it, but I came close enough.

Still, that doesn’t qualify me to speculate about whether or not actor Lee Thompson Young […] suffered from a mental illness when he allegedly took his own life. But I am disturbed by the conversation surrounding his death — the shock that someone so seemingly successful would kill himself. People with mental illnesses are your neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family — people that are living their lives to the best of their ability each day. People like me.

This summer, I spent a week in a psychiatric ward. Most people do not know that. It’s not information that I include in my everyday conversations. But Young’s story has inspired me to share mine; to dispel the myth that successful people — people that are “put together” — don’t kill themselves …

The night before I entered the hospital, I called an estranged friend and left her a goodbye message. I set aside all of my important documents, in case my family needed them. I started writing my friends and family goodbye notes. I thought I was on my way out for good. Ever the planner, I didn’t want to leave things undone, even in death.  I didn’t want to die, but I wasn’t exactly interested in living either. That’s what depression does — even though life was going as I wanted it to, depression made it impossible for me to enjoy it — or even want it.


Read Diamond Sharp’s entire piece at Shepherds Not Sheep.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter