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Self-Love

Why I Never Sought Therapy After Surviving A Tragedy

I know exactly what you’re thinking: “here goes another one probably thinking God alone solves everything.” “Here goes another black woman who probably thinks all she need is the Lord.” “Here goes another woman too strong for her own good.” okay, wait! You might be right about the last part, but everything else? I never said. Hell, I have a degree in psychology. I know the importance of seeking professional help. I know that some cases call for daily medication and being asked, “what do you see?” as you lay on a long, leather couch. I also know that

 after I watched everyone I loved the most take their last breaths while I tried to save my own. I also know God is the only thing that could have gotten me through college when my stitches were damn near still in when I started. I also know God is the only thing that could have convinced me life is still worth living when the people I was living for were no longer alive. In other words, I knew that therapy couldn’t save me. At least not back then. Therapy would have poured salt in my wounds and magnified the ones I never even paid attention to. “But Candice, how do you know if you’ve never tried?” I never said that either. I did try that one time I was ordered to.

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I’ve been a survivor for almost 5 years. I was the only survivor of something that still causes eyes to get big and mouths to drop when I tell them I’m still here. The crazy part is, the tragedy itself never affected me. It was the aftermath. It was the being with my family one day and being told I have to be without them for the rest of my life the next morning. It was the losing my mom at the age I had the most questions. At the age that was most critical. It was the losing my younger siblings before I even got the chance to brag on how their hearts alone changed the world. It was the feeling alone in a room full of people. It was the crying myself to sleep every night yet laughing with my friends throughout the day just to cry again as soon as the door closed behind me when I went home. It was the inability to be social. It was the fear of doing anything alone and always thinking I would be the victim of the worst case scenario if I did. It was the guilt of being the only one who survived. It was all the times I was too eager to let my wall down so that someone, hell, anyone would want to be around forever. It was never the tragedy. It was never the physical wounds. It was never the physical pain. Everything was emotional. Everything was mental. Everything was spiritual. Everything had to be cured by someone who didn’t prescribe medication. Everything had to be cured by someone who didn’t always suggest getting out of my room but rather staying in to talk to Him. Everything had to be cured by someone who would still help whether I ran to Him or not. Everything had to be cured by God himself.

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I was all alone in D.C. My (now ex-) boyfriend was in Atlanta and stressed out because my happiness depended on our relationship. I didn’t know what self-love was back then. I didn’t know what it meant to be happy let alone happy with him. He had the pressure of keeping a smile on the face of the girl who had just lost her whole family; if he failed even a little bit, I was lashing out (if you’re reading this, I’m sorry). So not only was I all alone in a place I had never been, I was in a rocky relationship and trying to keep my grades up. It became too much. “Please come over, I’m scared I’m going to do something stupid,” I texted the girls I spent my freshman year with. They came over. They talked sense into me then they told on me. I was ordered to spend Valentine’s Day weekend in Howard University Hospital. When I got there, I had to talk to someone. “Mental illness is the same as a headache or a stomach ache. You take medication to feel normal again. So what brought you here today?” She asked me. I told her what led to me wanting to give up on life. “Wow, go see him one day and tell him that you forgive him. For you.” I cried every single day I was there. I cried and called my boyfriend whenever I saw that no one was using the phone. His number was the only number I had memorized. The phone was at the front desk. Everyone could hear your conversation. Anyone could use it. Those who slept on the street. Those who attended Howard University. I cried. Called my boyfriend again. “Babe please answer, it’s me.” I left on his voicemail so he’d finally answer a number he didn’t recognize. “He can’t call back so I’ll call him back in a few minutes.” I never got the chance to call back. I cried myself to sleep that night.

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They went around giving everyone their medicine. I was told to take the Zoloft. It was a pill in a white cup. The cups that are used for Ketchup at places like Burger King and McDonalds. “Nothing is wrong with me, I was just missing my family. Can I leave now?” “You have to take your medication.” “I’m not taking that. I’m not like these people in here.” How could they have known? Hell, I looked just like them. I was in a white gown with hospital socks on. I was in a room with nothing but a twin sized bed, a nightstand, and windows that I could look out of but no one could look in. I was locked on the same floor. “You have to take it.” “I can’t swallow pills.” My inability to swallow pills was finally coming in handy. I believe in therapy, but I don’t believe in medication. Medication makes you dependent and creates a faux happiness. I’ve never taken it, and I vowed to myself that day that I never will. I called my boyfriend. “Happy Valentine’s Day.” I was crying again. “Happy Valentine’s Day, baby. Randy came up there yet?” “Randy” was the nickname he gave my roommate from freshman year, Brittany. Today, she’s my sister. “No, I’m leaving today.” Between me being away at college and my depression, our relationship was rocky but there was no one in the world I loved more than him. “You okay? I know Randy gonna tell you she heard me crying on the phone and shit but ask her if I was the only one though.” I laughed out loud. Sometimes he was the only light in my darkness. “It’s cool babe, you was worried about mommy.” “What are the doctors saying?” “They want me to take medication and go to student counseling.” “You should talk to someone, but I don’t think you should take medication. You’re not going to be…you. You’re not going to be Can Can.” It had been about a month since I been her anyway.

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Despite how he or I felt about anything, I didn’t have a choice. Once word got out that I was hospitalized, I was required to seek student counseling. I went and my first time turned out to be my last. Sure enough, it poured salt into my wounds and magnified problems that I had but didn’t deal with. It was as if I was an aquarium and she kept knocking on my glass with a hammer until I cracked and everything poured out of me until it became impossible to control. She had me in class having to leave early because uncontrollable tears came out of nowhere. I was in a dark place and therapy sent me there because I had to get through the dark before I could get to the light. Everything I kept inside. Everything I bottled up. Everything that tugged at my heart was on display and I felt more naked than a stripper who does porn on the side. So I stopped and never went back. Not because it didn’t work or that I don’t believe in it, but because at the time, it hurt more than it helped. With me never going to therapy before, I didn’t know how powerful it would be for me. It’s scary to suddenly be naked and not know how you got there. It’s even scarier to accept the fact that you need help. However, because I was studying psychology, that was my therapy for the time being. I was healing and learning. Healing and learning. Because I was learning so much about myself, the person who caused the tragedy, and the effects of the tragedy itself, I was healing without all of the drama. I was also able to help others which in turn also healed me. I got through the darkest place of my life without medication and without therapy. My secret? Those who prayed for me and the times I prayed to God when everyone suggested that I get out and He suggested that I stay in and get to know Him instead.


Thanks for reading! I’d appreciate your comments. 🙂

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