Friday, May 20, 2022

5 Tools To Feel Better During This Pandemic: Inspired by Taraji P. Henson

When I first read the headline, “ Taraji P. Henson Considered Suicide During The Pandemic,” I was not surprised. And not because I suspected anything like that from Taraji, but because I understand how depressing and disconnecting living in this pandemic has been. 

Taraji said on her Facebook Watch show, “I was in a dark place. I couldn’t get out of the bed. I didn’t care…  Then I started having thoughts of ending it. It happened two nights in a row. And I purchased a gun not too long ago and it’s in a safe. And I started thinking if I could go in there right now and just end it all. Cause I wanted it to be over. Thought about my son and thought, he’s grown, he’ll get over it. I just didn’t care. I felt myself withdrawing. People were calling me. I wasn’t responding. I didn’t care.” 

When I saw Taraji’s confession, I related. People are suffering because our lives have totally changed and at the same time our lives are on the line. This pandemic has taken us away from our loved ones, away from our jobs, our comfort zones, and turned us into people who are concerned every day about dying. This pandemic forced me to find better ways to help myself because I started to spiral and didn’t enjoy it. These are 5 ways I learned to help myself during the COVID-19 era.  

1. Requested My Own Life Line

Somewhere around May, I called two of my business colleagues and admitted how much I was struggling due to the pandemic. I’d felt isolated and down. They encouraged me to take this time to do something that I couldn’t do when things were normal. I heeded their sage advice and things started changing slowly. 

2. Became More Engaged 

I’ve always believed that human beings are more connected than not. So, when I fully understood my own suffering, I knew others were suffering as well. I launched an IG TV series to connect with others during the pandemic. The project launched on a Wednesday  and is officially called, We Love You Wednesdays. It airs on IG Live at 6pm, PST. The goal is to remind all of us that we need love and are worthy of love. It has brought me new friends and people together who needed connection. 

At my desk just getting ready to do a Zoom call.

3. Started A Writer’s Accountability Group

I’ve often enjoyed the moments when I’m connecting with other writers. In November I started a writer’s accountability group where a handful of us get on a Zoom call and write every day. The group has helped me crush year long goals where I’d procrastinated. I’ve overcome fear based issues that had affected my writing due to the commitment to this group. 

4. Met More Business People

After my IG Lives kicked in, I felt more motivated so I set up a weekly goal to meet more business people. I literally go through my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and find new people I would like to meet. Generally, I pick people who I believe can teach me something or who have been successful in some way. This strategy has helped me move forward with my writing career and become somewhat of a networking maven. 

5. Exercised Daily

Sometimes I take hikes in the morning. Sometimes I break up walking to twice a day. No matter what it is, I make it my business to exercise every day. There was a time during the pandemic when I didn’t exercise daily. My general outlook suffered a great deal when that happened. I can say confidently, “My attitude is better when I’m exercising every day—even for just 20 minutes.”

Photo Credit: Unsplash / Dorothea Oldani
A Zoom meeting I held to connect with our community to be supportive.

If I evaluate the five strategies which helped me cope during this pandemic, every tool involved me “doing something.” I struggled the most when I sat on the couch or just stayed inside. I felt upbeat and optimistic when being productive. My one take away for, not just my life, but this entire pandemic, is: Do something. Be productive and proactive. Every action I’ve taken during this pandemic has led me to my next action. When all the actions add up, I feel happier and more confident. Why? Because I can see all the progress I’ve made. 

Taraji talked to one of her girlfriends and that is what helped her. In her show she reveals, “Finally, I’m talking to one of my girlfriends and I was smart enough to know, I have to say it. Cause a part of me was ashamed. I didn’t want them to think I was crazy… to obsess over me… I don’t wanna be handicapped and feel weird. So one day I just blurted it out. I was talking to my girlfriend. She called me in the morning and I said, ‘I thought about killing myself last night.’ Oh my God, I feel so much better, I’m not gonna do it now.” 

Photo courtesy Taraji P. Henson / Instagram

Everyone at Black TV Film Crew thanks Taraji P. Henson for her honesty. She didn’t have to tell us anything. She owes us nothing. But, we are grateful for her. We have another advocate who has brought mental health issues to the forefront. Have the discussion with your family and friends. Allow Taraji’s story to be the icebreaker.  

This article is not a substitution for medical advice or medical help. If you are having thoughts of suicide, please call 1.800.273.TALK.

Yasmin Shiraz
Yasmin Shiraz
Yasmin Shiraz is a Screenwriter and TV producer who has worked for Lifetime, A&E, Bravo and PBS. She's a best selling author of more than 11 titles and the founder of Black TV Film Crew. She is the CEO of Still Eye Rise Media.

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