Artist/CEO Life: We must take better care of ourselves
Saturday, December 13th, I had the pleasure of hosting my signature show in Baltimore, MD. The show went off without a hitch; everyone had a great time. It was, all around, a beautiful evening. I was really happy seeing what I had been building come to life. At 8:30am on Sunday, I woke up crying uncontrollably and I could not figure out why. I wanted to blame it on the general state of my life, feeling lonely, a delusional belief that everybody hated me, and some thoughts that I can’t even remember.
It wasn’t until about 2 hours later that it hit me what was happening. In a span of two weeks, I started a new job, performed in or hosted five shows in four different cities and managed several other projects and events under Simply Poetic Entertainment. Something I LOVE doing, but it can take a lot out of me if I am not taking time to care for myself. All the adrenaline I had been running on had completely left my body, leaving me in tears. I guess this is what coming off a really good drug high would feel like.
I woke up on the morning of December 15 and learned of the suicide of Titi Branch, the CEO of Miss Jessie’s natural hair care products. I had never heard of this lady and knew nothing about her products but this news hit home. She was 45—my age—and a CEO, most likely a busy woman who, for her reasons, could no longer deal with what was going on in and around her. I wondered instantly if she had a crash like me and just couldn’t pull herself out of it.
Sadly she is not the first black woman entrepreneur of note to take her own life this year. In April the news of the suicide of Karyn Washington, 22, creator of the “For Brown Girls” blog, shook the internet. Another bright light dimmed, losing the battle with depression and mental illness generally—something that affects both black men and women but we won’t talk about it.
These women and I have three things in common:
1) We were fighting depression,
2) We were not, while taking care of everybody else, properly taking care of ourselves,
3) We suffered in silence with huge smiles on our faces.
Among my family and closest friends, I’ve made no secret of my fight; I battle with it more often than I care too and won’t always reach out for help.
Let me make a side note here: a friend of mine said to me “You posted something on Facebook yesterday that had me concerned about you, but due to the current state of our friendship I didn’t contact you. I just let it be.” I need everyone who is reading this to know that, regardless of the state of your relationship with someone, if they say or do something that concerns you, contact them immediately and ask them if they are OK. That simple act of reaching out could be the difference between holding onto the imaginary rope or looking for an actual rope to turn into a noose.
As a poet I have written and performed a poem called “Cracked” which discusses my battle with depression. Each time I perform that piece I am amazed at the number of women and men that walk up to me and say “Thank you for telling my story” or “It’s good to know I’m not alone.” I need to perform that poem more often.
In closing, I am pledging to take better care of myself in 2015 in an effort to do fewer battles with depression and managing my stress. In my next blog, I will tell you what I’m planning to do in 2015 to make sure I stay well and ask you to make a pledge to yourself as well.
PS Rest in Paradise Ladies, I pray you have found peace.
Titi Branch 1969 to 2014