In Empire star Gaby Sidibe’s new memoir This is Just My Face, the actress gets very candid about what it’s like to deal wth depression and possible suicidal thoughts.
In the book, Sidibe recounts her journey to seeking therapy, writing,
“Often, when I was too sad to stop crying, I drank a glass of water and ate a slice of bread, and then I threw it up. After I did, I wasn’t as sad anymore; I finally relaxed. So I never ate anything, until I wanted to throw up – and only when I did could I distract myself from whatever thought was swirling around my head.
I found a doctor and told her everything that was wrong with me. I’d never run down the entire list before, but as I heard myself, I could sense that dealing with this on my own was definitely no longer an option.
The doctor asked me if I wanted to kill myself. I said, “Meh, not yet. But when I do, I know how I’ll do it.” I wasn’t afraid to die, and if there was a button I could’ve pushed to erase my existence from earth, I would have pushed it because it would have been easier and less messy than offing myself. According to the doctor, that was enough.”
Sidibe’s memoir reveals an often untalked about the truth about what it means to be “suicidal.” Sometimes it isn’t the loud and unyielding urge to end your life like is often pictured. Sometimes it’s just a quiet roar that sneaks up on you.
She also recalled why it’s not simply enough to just tell someone you love. She says she tried telling her mom, but like many people who struggle with depression, she couldn’t quite seem to find the words to express just how much trouble she was in.
“Here’s the thing about therapy and why it’s so important. I love my mom, but there’s so much I couldn’t talk to her about during my Hoe Phase. I couldn’t tell her that I couldn’t stop crying and that I hated everything about myself
Whenever I did try to open up, my mom seemed unconcerned. When I was sad about something, she told me to “get a thicker skin.” When I was upset, she told me to “stop nitpicking.” My mom has always had faith that things would be okay, but saying “tomorrow will be a better day” wasn’t enough for me.
When I first told her I was depressed, she laughed at me. Literally. Not because she’s a terrible person, but because she thought it was a joke.
[She wondered] How could I not be able to feel better on my own, like her, like her friends, like normal people? So I just kept thinking my sad thoughts — thoughts about dying.”
Sidibe touches on an extremely important point: while the first step should be telling your loved one, it shouldn’t be the last step. The truth is that your mom or dad is probably not a mental health expert. And they may not recognize those signs if you’re in danger.
And this is something that “mental health awareness” so often gets wrong. Like in the show 13 Reasons Why, in which the lead character Hannah blames her friends and classmates for causing her pain and then for not recognizing the warning signs. The truth is, your friends may not be able to recognize signs that you need help. And it’s not necessarily their fault.
Gaby’s story proves why it’s so important that you seek professional help. And we’re so proud of her for telling it.
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel and when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her obsessing over her tuxedo cat Tom or hoarding drugstore lipsticks.