Breaking Point

You know everyone has a breaking point in their lives.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the Definition of breaking point is:

1: the point at which a person gives way under stress

2: the point at which a situation becomes critical

3: the point at which something loses force or validity

My breaking point came on September 28, 2017. It was a normal Thursday dealing with the Baltimore traffic heading to work. As I parked my car and headed into the building, I felt as if I was having an out of the body experience. I shook off the feeling and proceeded straight to my office. I had eaten a pretty good breakfast and I was looking at my work calendar. As I sat back in my chair, I started to get chest pain and literally felt a flood of emotions come up to the surface. I didn’t realize what was happening the room was spinning, and I burst out crying. My head immediately started to hurt as if a migraine just showed up out of no where. I immediately closed my office door and turned off the fluorescent lights. I sat on the floor crying my eyes out. My breathing started to increase as I felt my body get hot really quick. I didn’t know what was happening to me so I went to the bathroom and splashed water on my face. I felt as if I was about to vomit whatever I had earlier for breakfast. After about what seemed like an hour, I went back to my office and reached out to a close friend who practiced therapy. We talked about how I was feeling and person helped me process things better and got me to laugh. I didn’t know at the time that I was going through a mental breakdown.

Let me give you some background. On the evening of Saturday. Sept. 16, 2017, my close friend Ebony and my Godson Malik were tragically killed in a car accident in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The Sunday morning after I was serving at my church when I strange number kept calling me. I think I had 10 missed calls from early Sunday morning. I happened to finally reach log on to Facebook and see I have 6 messages. As I open the first message, my heart was crushed. The number was from Ebony’s sister. I was told the tragic news and I left church after the immediate shock. I don’t even remember driving home. I do remember sitting in the house with a whirlwind of emotions. I went and opened a bottle of White Hennessy. I took a shot one after another. I don’t remember how many I had but I ended up in the bathroom throwing up. I started drinking on an empty stomach and was drunk. I ended up laying on the couch and passing out. Eventually I got up and ate something to settle my stomach. I didn’t stop drinking and I ended up sleeping for the rest of the night. The next few days were like that Sunday. I would go to work and just sit for eight hours doing nothing. My mind wasn’t into the work or anything. For a week straight, I came home from work and took two or three shots of Hennessy. I became so paralyzed that I was numb to everything and everyone around me. I wasn’t talking to anyone and taking conversations seriously. When certain people called, I would lie about how I was doing and put the call on mute and just cry. I never told anyone about how I was feeling and kept internalizing everything. I hardly slept and hardly ate anything. I stopped caring how looked and lost interest in activities and people I normally enjoyed. I isolated myself from family and friends. I didn’t go to work during the week of the funeral. I did reach out to some friends and let them know that I was coming down to Charlotte on that Friday for a funeral on a Sunday. The entire weekend was a blur and I barely remember anything. I do remember drinking the night before to ease my anxiety. Driving down to Rock Hill so many emotions started to flare up when I passed the Carowinds sign. Ebony and I met at Carowinds and were co-workers on the Carolina Gold rush ride. We grew as friends over the years, and would often meet up to grab some food either in DC or Charlotte. One day , she told me if she ever had another child that she would want me to be the Godfather. Two years later, I got the phone call and was blessed to have the opportunity to be a Godfather. Losing a friend was difficult but losing a friend and a child was devastating.

Arriving at the funeral, I was a complete mess. I had cried so much that it caused me to have a severe headache. I never knew the impact I had on Ebony’s life until complete strangers came up and hugged me. Family members thanked me for being there for Ebony and Malik over the years. I had an opportunity to say a few remarks at the service which really helped me to release some emotions. After the service was over, I was emotionally drained and literally drove back to Maryland through the night non-stop. I got up the next Monday morning and went to work as if I had a good weekend. I hardly could sleep that Monday night and I started using NyQuil to help put me to sleep. The next few days, I continued to self-medicate on NyQuil and alcohol just to sleep. I stopped working out and ate a lot of junk food.  I was so discombobulated and on Thursday, September 28, 2017 the levy finally broke.

Thinking back I was in a dangerous place and no one knew it. I was good at masking my emotions and just telling everyone that I was good.  When on the inside, I was scrabbled like an egg. Let me touch on personal health. It’s okay to ask for help when you are dealing with or going through something. There is a stupid stigma that people won’t seek help when dealing with things especially African American’s – don’t believe the hype! A person is not weak if they ask for help. It’s ok to be vulnerable. Remember to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. All these are tied together with one another. Having a support team in your circle to help you through hard times. In society now, everyone is on edge and you never know when it will be a breaking point.

A few celebrities have recently talked about their battle with some sort of mental breakdown. Cleveland Cavalier Kevin Love and actress Jenifer Lewis have had recent conversations with the media about their battles. Just recently, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue discussed that anxiety and stress of basketball made him step away from the team for two weeks in March.  These are just a few people who have publicly talked about their struggles. Many people are dealing with mental illnesses and are not seeking help.  Two recent celebrities that took to social media displaying their need for help showed how bad it can get. The rants of Tyrese Gibson and Kanye West showed how things can go from bad to worst. In my opinion, Kanye West has not healed from the sudden death of his mother. Kanye never took the time for self-care and some of his actions showed as he performed and lost friendships. After Fashion designer Kate Spade took her own life,  a lot of attention has been brought up concerning mental illness. According to Time magazine, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline rose by 25% in two days as the high-profile suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain captured public attention urging people who have suicidal thoughts to call.

Here are some tips I used to realize that I’m headed for a breaking point and how to stop it.

  1. Stress levels increase at home, work, and life.
  2. Food intake changes by eating out more at fast food places, or not eating at all.
  3. Sleeping pattern/ hours change. You start to have insomnia and sleep during the day.
  4. You are mood changes by experiencing mood swings or unexplained outbursts and people ask you are you ok
  5. The body starts to change. Muscles get tense, clammy hands, upset stomach, your digestion changes.
  6. The more you become prone to getting sick. Cold lasting longer than normal, dizziness, difficulty breathing and trembling or shaking.
  7. You withdraw from family, friends, and coworkers and avoid social functions and engagements.
  8. You calling in sick to work for days or not showing up to work at all and isolate yourself in your home
  9. You become detachment from reality and self and numb to the thing around you.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and on the verge of a breakdown, consider these strategies.

  1. Breathe deeply and count backward from 10 when you are feeling anxious or stressed.
  2. Cut caffeine and alcohol from your diet.
  3. Develop a sleep schedule and routine that will help in easing your mind. Develop a sleep schedule and routine that will help in easing your mind. This could mean reading a book, taking a bath, taking a walk,switching off electronic devices, or use alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, massage therapy, exercising  or yoga.

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