Karyn Washington

Last week a young lady was found dead in an apparent suicide, she was only 22 years old. Her name was Karyn Washinton, she was the author of the blog For brown girls and the founder of the dark skin red lips project. She wrote inspirational pieces for others in an effort to make the world a brighter place. Unfortunately she was unable to do that for herself. Her mother passed away in 2009 and apparently that pain along with depression and a mental illness, she kept to herself and was not properly diagnosed or treated is what lead to this tragedy occurring. It is truly a sad day to see a light put out by its inability to be light enough for itself. The internet is filled with so many tributes to this young lady who inspired so many people, it makes me look at her with such sadness and makes an interesting realization prevalent again, as I am already very familiar with this conundrum. Here it is….someone can be so inspiring to others and still be so very sad. My question who does the one who inspires others go to when they need inspiring. One is not sunshine all the time, everyone gets down so who does one turn to, when they need that moment to feel inspired. Who helps them to feel better? And in the case of some who can you tell? Not everybody is lucky enough to have that person who they can always be real, honest, and true with, a person they can show their true face too without judgement. It is truly a heavy burden to bear when everyone looks at you as inspiring, people assume that one is so strong, that one can get through everything, people look at one as if they are super human and have no problems but they are wrong….everyone is human regardless of the insight they are able to impart on the world they feel human emotions just like every other. They need that rock as well. They too need the support and insight that they provide for others. People must remember that their gift to shed light does not make them any less vulnerable to what life can throw our way, doesn’t make them any less in need of the support, encouragement, and love that they put forth into the world. In our world of facebook, instagram, and twitter our lives have been reduced to snap shots taken and posted with a happy or funny caption, or a witty one liner followed by hash tags but what about in between the snap shots and one liners? What is our true life like? Many people live in a silent hell with no one to turn to, pretending that life is what it should be, teetering on that line of trying to see the light but truly plunging into the darkness. It appears that this was the case for Karyn, while living her life in what appeared to be light, she was teetering on that line, living in a darkness that eventually took her over. One of her friends wrote a post online, she expressed her grief so beautifully in her tribute to her friend, in it she said that while her friend is gone she will still look to her as her inspiration because Karyn was always inspiring to her. She expresses her guilt in knowing only a little about Karyn’s pain and wishing that she could have been for her as she clearly required. She also wished her friend had seen the inspiration that she had put into the world, understood the magnitude of her insight. While she meant that with all the love in the world it furthers that while she is an inspiration she was not to herself. She needed and she was left without the support that she needed and her loss is so sad. This was a preventable death, her friend was not equipped to assist her, she too being a young woman but there were people who could have assisted her and unfortunately she fell through the cracks. In the end her light has not gone out but no longer shines as it used to. Her followers of her blog vow to keep her light burning and her project in the forefront. However the fact still remains that Karyn is gone now, no longer will she be posting daily and the reason is because mental illness is too often ignored. It is treated as something that will pass and we must not worry about it. But the truth of the matter is that it is here, we tend to ignore the illnesses we cannot see, we get up for the person with the cane, make room for the person in the wheelchair as they pass by but we miss the depressed person as they sadly pass us, or as they fake a cheerful I am doing well thank you when we ask how are you. In our society we do not notice those people, understandably they are hard to identify in public but what about private, do we just dismiss it as so and so is just depressed again. Or they are just negative and can’t see the good things in their lives, well isn’t that the definition of depression? Doesn’t that mean just as if their tibia was sticking out of their leg it is obvious that something is broken? We live in a world where people ask each other how are you as they pass by but don’t even wait to hear the answer. What if I didn’t give the appropriate expected response and I said I have had a terrible day today and was considering jumping off my roof after dinner would the person who asked even hear me? And would they even want to hear my truthful answer, no one asks how are you, to hear the truth, they are just being polite saying what they are supposed to say. The saying am I my brother’s/sister’s keeper comes to mind? Are we? There was a time that the answer was easy, of course I am. But today it’s not the case everyone worries about themselves, sharing our lives on facebook, twitter, etc open in the world of social media yet hiding behind the closed doors of our home cut off from the world in the human sense. It is unfortunate that so many people are really living in a private hell, trying to navigate through the darkness and sadness feeling so very alone. It is heartbreaking that they live this way and in the case of Karyn that they die this way. Hopefully Karyn’s death is not in vain and that her story sheds light on this issue that a message is sent and understood and some change can occur. That people can see that even the inspiring need to be inspired. That even the strong need strength. That even the light sees darkness. And Karyn says it very well so I will end with her words:
“As humans, regardless of color, age, socio-economic status, gender, and other characteristics, we MUST build each other up rather than tear each other down in order to change the world and create a better place for our children and future generations. As women, it is imperative as well as our duty to love ourselves unconditionally, smile and laugh often, and NEVER allow ANYONE to steal our joy.”

Just another day in 7th heaven, tomorrow is another day. Until next time, be well.