Creator of For Brown Girls Commits Suicide: There No Shame In Getting Help

Its being reported that Karyn Washington, the founder of "For Brown Girls" and the "Dark Skin, Red Lips" project has committed suicide at the young age of 22.




For those of you who do not know of Karyn Washington, she was a young up and coming blogger and activist for women of color. Who made it her mission to uplift and spread love within the black female community. Her blog ForBrownGirls sought to provide inspiration for its readers and to celebrate the beauty of dark skin while combatting colorism issues and promoting self love. 

The #DarkskinRedLip Project was an extension of that, Washington set out to begin "breaking barriers and building confidence". She began to showcase women with darker skin complexions wearing red lipstick last year after rapper A$ap Rocky said that red lips and dark girls don't mix.

The project grew through social media and word of mouth, women of color began submitting photos wearing their red lipstick in support of Karyn's mission. She wanted to help end the notion that dark skin women couldn't be attractive when wearing bright colors. While trying to defeat that stigma the project also served as inspiration to women who had fallen victim to the stereotype and urged women to rock their red lip despite their complexion.

You may view a gallery of participants from the "Dark Skin, Red Lips" project HERE

Sadly, Karyn who had dedicated herself to breathing positivity, into those around her and made it her mission to uplift dark skin women and show them that they too deserve love was struggling with her own depression and mental illness.

It is so sad to see that a life filled with so much promise and wiseness beyond her years was cut short and I can only think how her life like many others of those who have committed suicide could have been saved.

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In the african american community it's taboo to even speak of depression or mental illness. We as a race often view depression as a "white persons disease" and those in our community who actually speak out their issues are shunned. They are called liars, told they're just making it all up or that they're being drama queens. 

From early on we are taught that we have to be strong, or even if we are not to look the part, because any time we show weakness we have lost.

For women there is even more pressure, we are the sex symbol, the caregivers, we raise the children, we fix the problems, we have to always be strong for our families and there is never any time for anything to be wrong with us....ever. Just reading that out loud makes me anxious, we are given almost impossible standards to live up to and are taught to put on a happy face in every situation.

But what happens when when a happy face isn't enough to over come whats inside but you've been taught not to talk about it?

Often times our mouths just stay shut but our minds run on overtime with thoughts of defeat, worthlessness, sorrow, anxiety, depression....suicide. 

Its like we're screaming for help inside of a room full of people but no one can hear us.

As an African American women who suffers from Panic & Anxiety Disorder and PTSD from being robbed at gun point in college I can tell you that all that we have been taught is a lie. 

Depression and anxiety are not made up. Its not something thats imagined and its not just someone being a drama queen. They are both very real and can take a huge physical and mental toll on a person and I can tell you one thing for sure, the melanin in your skin can't protect you from developing it. 

But listening to what we as a culture have been taught about it can kill you.

MY STORY


I was robbed at gun point in the fall of 2006 right off of my colleges campus on the night of homecoming with 4 of my friends. In the days and weeks that followed I stopped eating, stopped sleeping at night and even stopped going to class. I became depressed, lost all motivation my grades slipped and I almost failed. 

Why? Because I was too afraid to leave my room and every time I did I would physically get sick, i'd start sweating, my stomach would ache, I would get dizzy all until I was back in my room where I felt "safe".  Little did I know then but I was showing symptoms of panic attacks and PTSD.

But no one knew...

I had been so effected by being robbed and didn't even know it. I was afraid every time I came out of my room, afraid that I would see those men or that they would find me again. I never talked to anyone about it, I just suffered in silence because I didn't want to look crazy or admit that something was going on with me.

I wound up moving off of campus the next year and things only got worse,  leaving the house was even harder now since I wasn't right by my classes. It took everything in me not to fail out. I had issues letting people drive me places, couldn't stand in long line felt trapped in small places...the list goes on. But still, I never said anything.

A year later I wound up transferring schools and began to get better. My environment was different I felt safe and supported, had friends I could talk to. However 2 years into my new school and I was still having issues with my grades, specifically in foreign language classes but I couldn't figure out why. 

When I would get called on in class I would freeze feel sick, start sweating,  it was the old days all over again. Some days I would get so anxious before going to class I would just stay in my dorm. I took french, spanish, italian and dropped them all. After that I was sent to my schools guidance center to talk with someone about what was going on. Since passing a foreign language was a graduation requirement they were worried about me.

Little did I know that the councilor they had me speak with was also a shrink who 4 years after being robbed at gun point diagnosed me with Panic and Anxiety disorder and PTSD.

She explained to me that my issues and trigger stemmed from not having control over a situation. When I was robbed I felt helpless, out of control and in fear of my life, so now in situations where I felt as though I didn't have complete control (like in class being called on at random, not driving myself to places, not knowing where I'm going, waiting in lines, or being confined to small spaces where I can not come and go as I please) I would be triggered and my body and mind would react as if I was in danger causing me to have a panic attack.

I had never talked to someone about (what I now know to be) panic attacks, I never wanted to look weak. The few times I had tried to explain what I was feeling people would look at me like I was....crazy and I hated it, hated it so much that I stopped explaining it and held it in.

And thats where the problems come, holding something in doesn't make it better.

Our community has to learn to not condemn those STRONG enough to speak up about their issues we have to learn to teach each other that the only WEAK ones are those trying to force others to face their issues alone. We need to spread awareness that this is our issue too and make a change In how we treat those effected by it.

I never wanted to talk to a Psychologist, because of all the shame that I had been taught was in admitting you needed help or looking outside of god to solve your problems. But now I know that there is no shame in getting help, no matter if its for depression, anxiety, a Mental illness, whatever.

I now know that these issues are not just "white persons" diseases.

Mental illness knows no color. 

Now understanding my issue, my triggers and how to deal with them I have been able to move forward in my life and live, what I would call pretty freely. No, I personally did not take medication and I am not completely anxiety free but I am much better =)

If you are struggling with depression, anxiety or mental illness PLEASE do not suffer in silence or try to handle that struggle alone. There is help out there for you and there is nothing and I mean NOTHING wrong with seeking it out no matter if its from a doctor, a guidance councilor or psychologist.

Our people need to learn that asking for help or admitting that you have a problem is not showing weakness it is just the opposite it is showing strength, boldness and bravery, you are doing something that most can't. 

Although I didn't not know Karyn I am saddened by this news and the loss of such an amazing life. I hope all of you who have read this far takes a moment and realizes how precious life is and if you know someone out there struggling please support them and aid them getting help so we don't have to lose another bright light.

Until next time 
XO Deanna 



1 comment

  1. thank you for this.. almost in tears . i believe i have social anxiety and it is really taking a toll on me. i seriously think that if i dont get help soon i might have a heart attack one day and im only 20! i keep telling myself i need to see a psychologist but i keep putting it off. definitely going to make that call very soon :) love all your posts here and on instagram.

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