"I wanted to share my story with your readers because mental health issues are often swept under the rug... As a black woman I am looked down upon for suffering from mental illness. I'm shamed and mocked because depression tends to take over me at times... However depression does not define me! Being a mother, a daughter, a business owner, and a woman of God does! But, allowing my depression to get the best of me has caused me to lose my daughter! There's a major back story, that I pray you read and share with your readers because there are so many people in our community committing suicide bc they feel they have no where to turn! Although my story is still being written, I pray that this can help at least one person rethink attempting to end their life... And, maybe by sharing my story and my pain, they will understand that they are not alone and I pray they will try to do any and everything in their power to seek help and get the counseling they need!
My name is Chanel, I'm 27, and I have a beautiful two year old daughter that I no longer have custody of and have only been able to see her 4 times since April... It all started before Chloe was born. Her father and I were high school sweethearts, we've known each other since we were 12, and talked about having a child and getting married when we got older... After trying to get pregnant and failing, I finally became pregnant after he and I broke up. Pregnancy was hard! I was put on bed rest in the hospital from February until May 10th, 2012 when Chloe was born two months early... Right before that Chloe's father lost his job while my hair extension business was thriving! After losing his job, Chloe's father became depressed, suicidal, and we argued all of the time... it was a very verbally abusive relationship that neither of us should've been in! But, by the time we realized that, I was pregnant! I tried to continue to run my company, but I really had focus other than raising Chloe! I stayed home with her for the first year straight and had minimal help from her father. Chloe wanted for nothing, but I slowly ran through my savings due to Chloe's father taking me to court for full custody... He lost, but it set me back $2000 to get an attorney.
Fast forward to a year ago, Chloe's dad and I attempted to get back together, it ended badly, and I attempted suicide... When I look back on why he and I got back together and what lead to me attempting suicide, it really was a multitude of things. He was the one constant thing in my life since I was 12, and I didn't want my daughter to grow up without both parents active in her life! Long story short, after attempting suicide, I ended up in a psych hospital for a week and when I got out, I lost custody of my child. I took me a little less than have of the year to get visitation. And, I was given standard visitation(every other weekend) plus every thursday. It hurt me to my core to have made such a bad decision to end my life, but I was willing to do what I had to, to earn custody of Chloe again! However this time around I had no money for an attorney and Chloe's father and his attorney put me on child support for $900 a month. From Aug 2013 until now I have been in school from 8am-6pm Monday through Thursday to finish my cosmetology license since Chloe's father nor I had ever finished college, I wanted my daughter to understand the importance of an education or trade. I still to this day don't understand how I was put on child support for $900, when he only had to pay $343 and he had two jobs and minimal bills!
For the past year I've been in and out of court for custody hearings. Things really got bad recently because I made a series of youtube videos venting about depression, custody issues, my previous suicide attempt. I was in a dark place and honestly just fed up from being bullied by Chloe's dad and his attorney. In the video I also tried to explain that suicide isn't the way out. And, it's important to address your issues with depression, seek therapy, get meds, whatever it takes! But, those videos hurt me in the worst way. Chloe's father took me back to court, and took all custody from me. I now have to get another psych evaluation, and I'm supposed to get visitation every Saturday, however that has not happened. Chloe's father goes out of his way to keep Chloe from me and it seems the Galveston county courts aren't doing much to assist me in this matter! He's gone out of his way to deny me visitation, which we are supposed to have every Saturday at Chuck E Cheese. One weekend after showing up to see Chloe and contacting him multiple times, he stated "You need to realize you have to ask me for permission to see her, you don't get to see her when you want! I hope you enjoyed Chuck E Cheese though." The following weekend I drove to see her again, and was told by him that he had to pay bills, which is why he diet show up... Every weekend it's a new excuse, and I'm left with not seeing my child.
My story is not new... couples go through custody issues every single day. But, typically it's displayed in the media as the woman being the "evil baby mama" keeping the child from the father... that is not the case now! And, it's an even harder to fight, not getting to see your child and suffering from mental illness! I get questioned daily asking why I haven't hurt Chloe's dad, or ran off with her... And, I can't say those thoughts haven't crossed my mind, but honestly I can't afford to mess up again! I can't afford to allow my depression and anxiety to win and to take me down and cost me my relationship with my child! So, I suffer in silence! I spend everyday acting like everything is ok! I work, and still try to sell hair, and every Saturday I go to Chuck E Cheese praying that I will get to see my daughter that day! Everyday is pure misery with the fact that I can't be the mother that she needs me to be... That I can't see her every move, that I no longer am there to help w/ potty training, and to get her dressed in the morning, or watch Minnie Mouse reruns with her... All in all, I just miss my child!
I wanted to share this with your readers because no one talks about how to juggle parenting, or getting custody back, and proving that depression does NOT define me as a parent! Because if it did, with all of the times that Chloe's father has tried to take me down, and every time he has thrown my depression in my face, even though he too suffers from depression, I would've jumped off a cliff long ago! But, there is bigger picture... If, I harm myself today, there will be no second chance! My daughter will grow up without me, and that is not something I'm willing to risk! But, what most don't realize is, when you suffer from mental illness, your mind is not always able to see the whole picture. It's kind of like there is a fog... sometimes the fog is more like a haze, you can see about a mile in front of you. Other times the fog of depression is so thick, you can't even see your hand in front of you... And, by the time things get that bad, you think talking about your pain simply won't rectify the situation. And, in my case, I felt like suicide was my only option after reaching out to those I love for help, and they simply telling me that I had to get over my issues and get it together bc I had a child to think of! Those who don't suffer from depression or anxiety, really have a hard time relating to people with depression... to most it seems like an easy fix, if plan a doesn't work, try plan b. But, for those whom suffer from depression... when we give our all, or attempt to seek help, and it still doesn't work, or mind tells us to give up! And, that feeling we have to fight and try again, often does not outweigh the deeper feeling of our depression!
I shared my story, to let people know that they aren't alone! I suffer from depression and I have good days and bad days, but I'm still here for a reason! I'm here to be an example for my child, and hopefully to be some sort of encouragement for others who suffer from depression in silence! SEEK HELP! Find someone who will always make sure you are ok! Find someone who you trust that you can confide in if you can't locate a therapist. And, have faith, bc Lord knows I wouldn't be able to endure all of this without God! Depression is never discussed because of the fear that people will use it against you. It shouldn't be like that! People should be able to share their hurt and low points to get help! Not to be ridiculed and punished! Do, you know how many suicides could be avoided if people were able to really share how they feel? Especially in the black community, we are told to be "strong black women/men" and depression, anxiety, and mental illness are not things that fall in line with being "strong" But, what if people took the time to change that? Yusuf Neville was a recent person whom committed suicide that no one could see coming. He was friends with Terrance J and seemed to be an amazing man. He was set to be married, was a Hampton alum, and was loved by so many... yet this handsome and successful man figured the only way he could escape his pain was by death. And, there are so many like him that feel the same, and something must be done about this! I feel more people should come forward with the fact that they have overcome depression. More people should show compassion to those suffering with depression! I didn't choose to be depressed... and I can't tell you when I finally realized that I was depressed. But, I do know that there were events in my life that should've never happened... being molested from age 3-6, being raped at age 19... seizures, migraines... all types of things that I've hidden in the back of my mind, in order to cope and deal with my day to day grind. I feel that although those events have happened they didn't cause my depression. There are many people in the world whom have had to cope with worst! So, ultimately I feel mental illness is something you're born with. It's not something you choose! So, people shouldn't be looked down on for something they have no control over! And, dialogue really is a great way to help those who suffer not live in fear, and to seek help!"
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