“I had to learn to like myself before I could ever learn to love the woman that I was becoming. Through loving myself, I have given my life that much more meaning”
***excerpt from Chapter 3***
Chapter Three: Overcoming Fear
Just weeks before I would move to Chicago to embark on the beginning of my adulthood I attempted suicide. I sat on my good friend Amber’s bathroom floor silently crying while holding a newly purchased bottle of Tylenol. I had thought about killing myself many times before, but I had never imagined that I would ever go through with it. But that day on the bathroom floor was completely different. I can still feel how cold the floor was and the constant annoying sound of water slowly dripping from the faucet. There were thin pieces of hair that had been shed balled up on the floor, and the trash can was overflowing with paper towels and empty tissue rolls. I sat on the floor with my back to the door and stared at the clock on the wall. I told myself once the big hand reached the number nine I would take as many pills as I could swallow. I continued staring at the clock, bottle still in hand. I watched the big hand hit the seven and inhaled deeply. Surprisingly I was calm and unafraid. My mind started to wonder of death. Was it peaceful? Would it be painful? Would it rid me of the tough circumstances the world was throwing at me? How much of my death would I feel? I sat on that cold cracked bathroom floor in deep thought.
I closed my eyes and began to see myself on the other side of life. I imagined myself sitting next to God wearing a long white dress with a crown made of bloomed flowers and butterflies with a smile that could only come from pure joy. My skin and spirit were clear and full of all things good. The fields had beautiful green grass, trees full of green leaves and every flower was bloomed beautifully and bright. I would glance around and admire the bright emerald sky and the crystal-clear rivers flowing and sending clean, refreshing scents throughout. Others are walking around cheerful; some people were laughing others singing and talking but all in complete peace and happiness. I imagined not having to stress, worry or give a damn about anything irrelevant. I imagined heaven as a permanent calmness; one that the world could never be big enough to give to me or anyone else.
The sound of the dripping water from the faucet had returned and brought me back to my current situation. I lightly shook the bottle of pills that I was still grasping and looked up at the clock on the wall. Those thoughts of heaven that I had just imagined had encouraged me to continue with my journey to getting there. Yes, it could possibly be painful and hurt those around me and of course I would miss them but seeing heaven as vividly as I just did made me ready. The big hand hit the eight and I heard a light knock at the door. “Aleisha, do you need help turning on the shower?” Amber asked. I had been in the bathroom for about 15 minutes, so she was probably wondering why I hadn’t gotten in yet. For a few seconds I sat in silence staring at the door she had just knocked on. I was silently debating on if I should ignore her and continue with my plan or to respond. After a few more knocks I yelled out to her, “I’m fine. Just using the bathroom first then I’ll get in.” I heard the hardwood floor creaked beneath her feet and her bedroom door close. I exhaled deeply after knowing she was no longer so close to me. In that moment I started to rethink everything. My parents would be crushed when they found out I was now dead due to suicide. Surely, they would blame themselves thinking that there was something they could have done or said to change the outcome. But there wasn’t. I had been hiding my depression and had gotten so good at smiling through pain they would have had no way of knowing. And my siblings, my nieces and nephew would also be crushed. I would miss them all so much. I cried more now torn between continuing my depression and missing my family. Which would hurt more? I turned the shower on and sat in the back of the tub with the bottle of pills in my hand. No longer confused I had decided to go through with my initial decision. If God didn’t want this to happen he would have had my friend burst through the door instead of just knocking. Right? Or was that God? It could have been but the relationship I’ve had with him for the past few months there was no way of knowing. Tears began streaming down my cheeks. The clock continued to tock and tears continued to fall but I was still. I opened the bottle and started taking the pills four at a time until I lost count. I lay back and I started thinking about my life, the feelings that I felt and what specifically led me up to this moment.
There wasn’t one situation that made me suicidal. It was a buildup of emotions, fears, and insecurities. I was just tired. Tired of being strong, understanding and most importantly tired of feeling like I had no control. It’s ironic that I felt this way because my life on paper was great. I graduated top 35% of my class and was accepted into a great college. My parents were telling everyone how proud they were of their last two kids were embarking on college life and ultimately entering adulthood. My mom had been clean a little over a year. My friends and I was finishing up one of the best summers I’ve ever experienced, and I also had two nieces and a nephew that brought a new level of happiness to my life. With all the good going on I was still silently suffering from depression. No one knew about it. I had kept it pretty well hidden for a while. It came in waves though. Every day wasn’t a cloudy one but the ones that were truly affected me.
Fear is a disease of the mind. It causes one to overthink, second guess and limit oneself. We are all destined to be great in our own unique ways. After my suicide attempt, I learned how much I was allowing fear to navigate my life and control my decision making. 2 Timothy 1:7 says “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but the Lord has given us power, love and a sound mind.” Since a young girl, I let fear hold me captive from blossoming into the beautiful flower that God created me to be. Dreams, opportunities, and new possibilities scared me, but I should have never let those fears consume me entirely. My suicide attempt taught me to never let fear dictate how high I aim and most importantly never let fear stand in the way of how I felt about myself. I could never grow as a woman if I allowed what-ifs and fear of new things keep me from taking chances and living my life. I was focusing more on what could go wrong instead of the many things that could go right. I went from suicidal, depressed and full of fear to living in the heart of a new city confident and ready to take charge of my life.
I am a living testament to a woman completely broken down with fear. Years and years of my life I was afraid to try new things, speak my mind, and most importantly I was afraid of being myself because of what people might think of me. I let negative and self-doubting emotions build up for years making it that much more difficult to mature as a woman. My grandma Daisy used to always tell me as a young girl to be myself. I used to always laugh at her when she said that because then I never understood how I could ever be anyone else. It sounded crazy to me until I found myself years later on a bathroom floor shoving pills down my throat. Once I conquered my fears I learned how to love myself. And now I love myself so good I wouldn’t dare allow myself to be tricked or fooled by my own self-doubt ever again. I am who I am. I’m free to believe, act, and dream in any way I chose to because there’s no one anywhere who can hurt or stop me. I am stronger than my fears, and that way of thinking was the start of me being able to conquer those fears. My brilliance and purpose in life could never be fulfilled if I were to continue living day to day fearful, I had to woman up. I had to teach myself how not to be afraid.
Aleisha Antoinette is an entrepreneur, author, and speaker. She’s a Brooklyn, IL native but was raised in St. Louis by her parents and is the youngest of five siblings. Aleisha briefly attended Columbia College Chicago before deciding to pursue her dreams of writing. Aleisha Antoinette is bold and unapologetic and her writing captures that.