2020 has been a tough year for many of us, but especially those predisposed to mental health struggle. And sadly, we’ve just learned Taraji P. Henson is no stranger to that darkness.
On Wednesday, the What Men Want star shared her story of battling suicidal thoughts recently — and most shockingly the fact she has an actual gun sitting in her safe that she contemplated using.
In a mini episode of Peace of Mind with Taraji on Facebook Watch, the 50-year-old spoke with Dr. LaShonda Green about some of the more insidious thoughts that have been racing through her mind during the lockdown.
While we listened, our hearts broke for Taraji, especially because what she’s going through right now is very relatable for so many people. With suicides on the rise during the time of COVID, it’s very important for celebrities like this to speak out so we can all benefit from the conversation.
In the segment, Taraji started by talking about her dark moment and included the information about her newly purchased gun. She said:
“So during this pandemic, it’s been hard on all of us and I had a moment. I had a dark moment. I was in a dark place. For a couple of days, I couldn’t get out of bed, I didn’t care. That’s not me. Then, I started having thoughts about ending it. It happened two nights in a row and I purchased a gun not too long ago, it’s in a safe, and I started like, ‘I could go in there right now and end it all, because I want it to be over.’”
Oh no… And nothing could bring her out of the darkness:
“I thought about my son, he’s grown, he’ll get over it. I didn’t care. I felt myself withdrawing. People were calling me, I wasn’t responding, I didn’t care.”
Wow. Just… awful. We’re at a loss for words for how truly sad this all sounds, and we are so happy Taraji did not got through with it. The most important aspect of this story is that the Empire star realized these were negative thoughts she shouldn’t listen to, and she ended up deciding to confide in a friend about the suicide ideation she was experiencing. She shared her thought process about this decision and admitted:
“I felt like, if I don’t say it, it becomes a plan. What scared me is I did it two nights in a row. First, it was like, ‘I don’t wanna be here.’ Then I started thinking about going to get the gun and that’s why when I woke up the next morning, I blurted it out.”
Dr. Green, for her amazing part, had such wonderful things to add. She talked to Taraji about mental breakdowns, and how it’s very unique to each individual. What might break one person down might not break someone else. She also added another important piece to the conversation — and that was about pressure that African American women face. She told Taraji:
“That pressure in itself has created a lot of unrealistic expectations that are both self-imposed and imposed by others. But we also buy into it, because that’s the one thing we have.”
LaShanda also talked about being aware of our negative thoughts. We can recognize they do happen, and we will sometimes think bad things, but we have the power to realize we shouldn’t listen. The doctor stressed:
“You don’t have to believe every thought you have.”
That is such a powerful line. One we could all benefit from hearing.
Fortunately, Taraji had (and has) her friends as support. She also received some amazing advice from the doctor who advised her to take some much-needed time off for herself and to stop working during holidays. Though it didn’t come up, we kept thinking about the Empire spinoff show the star signed on for, all her work that she does for her production company, TPH Entertainment, and her recent split with fiancé Kelvin Hayden. Those three things alone are enough to add some major emotionally-taxing elements of stress to a person’s psyche. All that and a pandemic, too.
Here’s a link to the episode below if you want to hear the entire conversation:
Is the Pressure to Be a Strong Black Woman Too Much?
Taraji reveals her shocking mental collapse as Dr. LaShonda Green breaks down mental breakdowns. Why do Black women in particular try to heal on their own, the toll that takes and tips to help.
Posted by Taraji P. Henson on Friday, December 18, 2020
Fortunately, it sounds like things have worked out for the best for Henson, and we wish her all the best with her emotional health. She did the right thing by stepping forward, and hopefully this messages reaches anyone else who has been feeling those dark thoughts.
Because this can’t ever be said enough:
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, help is out there. You can contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). They provide support 24 hours a day, they’re completely free, and 100% confidential.
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