I Stopped Maintaining My Hair Because I Could Barely Maintain My Life

I Stopped Maintaining My Hair Because I Could Barely Maintain My Life

Mental health and natural hair matter.

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When I big chopped my hair in May of 2018, I thought that I would become what would be comparable to a chia pet. I aspired for my damaged, kinky 4C type hair to depart from me to make way for manageable coiled locks that would grow fuller and healthier at a faster rate. That day in the salon was one I will never forget. Looking in the mirror at my new tapered cut made me feel genuinely beautiful. I could see me and not the hair that I tried to hide my identity with. With the knowledge of new hair products and routines, I felt confidence in beginning my hair growth journey.

The first few months after, I noticed that my hair was thicker and had become more manageable. My new routines were paying off. Diligently applying oils and masks had helped me see results. Having shorter hair was a different but liberating experience. It was going all smooth until I got to the awkward phase. I spent hours watching YouTube videos to attempt various styles but the influencer's hair was either too long or short and never awkwardly in between as my hair was.

Later on in the year, my journey came to a halt. I was in between jobs, could barely afford to pay rent and would skip class to go to work because I needed to pay bills and rent. I was a mess and so was my hair. I stopped doing weekly conditioning routines and would let my hair matt up and not detangle properly because I was often in a rush. My anxiety caused me to twist pieces of my hair at high points of stress. I would wear wigs and attempt protective styles to prevent this but still neglected to treat the hair that was underneath. I stopped maintaining my hair because I could barely maintain myself in this hectic period of my life.


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Seeing the film Nappily Ever After made me resonate with the fact that this is a common occurrence in the natural hair community. Saana Lathan portrayed a woman, Violet who used her hair as her sole identity. She displayed how she hid the damage to her natural hair to live a life for others and not herself. It wasn't until she cut her dry, damaged hair that she had she had truly blossomed into the graceful women she truly is.

Natural hair and mental health go hand in hand. Growth can be inhibited by mental health and that goes for many aspects; hair is just one of them. If one takes care of their mental health, they feel more inclined to nourish their roots as well. This is why self-care matters in the black community.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Some Thoughts On Therapy

Almost everyone I know at college is grappling with some sort of mental illness, whether it's depression, anxiety, or just the overwhelming feeling of stress and paranoia that convinces you, that you have both. Needless to say, it's rather talked about an issue that infiltrated high schools and colleges across the world. The question is how do we prevent or solve these mental problems?

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As a teenager, people didn't really seem to know what to say when you said you were depressed. Instead, a look of confusion, come across parents faces and the immediate answer is almost always therapy. Now I have a bittersweet relationship with therapy. I do think it's effective, but I think it also is overrated and overhyped to those who are uneducated about the power of vulnerability and how crippling loneliness can be.

Therapy makes sense for people who are depressed because they mostly feel lonely, so if they have a non-flaky person that they can count on, of course, they are going to like going. It gives them a sense of stability. Talking about anything you are going through, is going to help no matter what. In my opinion, the only difference between talking to a friend and a therapist is the objective/non-judgmental opinion. You can be completely open with someone and know that they won't judge you or look at you differently, which sometimes can make all the difference.

I did see a therapist for a number of months, after my parent's divorce. I loved the woman I went to see, and I always felt better, mentally, like I wasn't carrying around so much on my shoulders, after talking about my problems. However, I had so many questions going into therapy, and I was always looked for a simple solution, instead, every time I got more questions. It was incredibly frustrating. I also found the experience quite mundane.

Although money isn't exactly a problem for my family, I was outraged at the cost of going to see someone and paying for it. My mom loves therapy and has continued to go, ever since she split with my dad. The fact that I was forced into it, might explain my opposition to it. One thing you should know about me is I am incredibly perceptive about human emotions (not to toot my own horn) and so almost every time the therapist spoke I was speaking the same words in my head or out loud (oops).

So, I didn't get much out of the experience, other than just getting a few things off my chest. I had countless long talks with my mom about life, the future, how to deal with feelings, and moving on. For this reason, my mom has always told me to become a therapist, that it is my calling. However, I can't see myself promoting something, that I don't fully support myself.

I want to make it clear, I am not discouraging therapy as a whole, just that sometimes it takes the right person (therapist) to make it work and also you need to be patient and open to the experience. If you don't feel comfortable being vulnerable, you may as well not even bother with it.

I could see myself, giving it another shot. A lot of my friends see a therapist, in college and say its helped them with a lot, in terms of dealing with self-confidence and eating disorders, which is one of the biggest problems for most girls on college campuses.

I believe that therapy will be around for a long time because you can't underestimate the power of human connection and relationships. People will continue to go to therapy if they feel a connection with that person because that is where most joy in life comes from. It comes from relationships and the feeling of having someone listen no matter what. If we talk to friends nowadays, people have difficulty listening because they are busy with their own lives, and therefore you never get a potential solution to something you are going through. Hence, people search for other ways to feel whole or appreciated, aka therapy.

These are my thoughts and I hope you enjoy and give therapy a try one day, just for kicks and giggles. It might work wonders. Hell, what do I know anyway?

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