Hi my name is Talathia Turner, but commonly known by all as Nini! A North Carolina native, I’m a loud mouth Chef by day, and a nerdy introvert by night. On July 8, 2014 I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, and Manic Depression after years of uncontrolled emotions and two near fatal suicide attempts as a way to run from them. After my diagnosis, I’ve been on a journey to figure out my true purpose in life, to dispel the myths and stigmas of mental illness, and learning to cope and live with it. But most importantly I’ve been on a quest to help those struggling just like me, so that no one else has to ever feel the way I have. With the support of friends and family, I hope to save someone else’s life the way mines was saved, as well as change the way individuals look at those with mental illness.
My Recovery Story...
As a young child I grew up experiencing trauma and abuse. Coming from a mother who lived with her own mental health struggles and generational trauma that she experienced with her own mother, it only became a matter of time until she passed that hurt down the line to her own children. Moments of physical torture and screaming became the norm of our household. A day never ended without a slap, beating, yelling, or having to witness my siblings experience their own form of torture. Some days it felt like my mom and her significant other found new ways to torture us, and each moment always outdid the last. Any day that we weren’t being abused, my siblings and I were constantly on edge waiting for the next episode. After so many years, we became so accustomed to it that moments of calmness in the household was cause for concern. From as young as the age of two, my life was marked with physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. These moments caused me to start seeing my school’s therapist a few days a week starting at the age of 8. Feeling the most protected in her office, I would openly tell her about some of the trauma that went on behind closed doors but never too much to where if my mother found out that it would be severe for my siblings and I. Shortly after, my therapist gave me my very first diary and told me that if I ever had moments of sadness to release them by writing, and then shortly after my days with my therapist ended. Feeling like I no longer had someone there to protect me is the day I became silent about my abuse. It is a silence that would haunt me until my adulthood.
At the age of ten after no longer having my therapist to turn to and wanting to escape all of the abuse at the hands of those I loved, I attempted suicide for the first time. Being so young and fearful after the failed attempt I chose to keep that moment to myself out of fear of being punished even more. I bandaged up my wounds and went on with my childhood. It is a secret that I would carry with me for the next 17 years. As time went on the abuse that my mother received from her significant other trickled down to my siblings and I. The more my mother was abused, the more torture she passed on to us. The night that my siblings and I were finally able to leave the home was the night we almost lost our lives to my step mom. After being removed from my mother’s care to live with other family members, and it became a daily routine that I couldn’t get used to. Even after being out of a home that was filled with so much abuse, a part of me missed some of the behaviors I had become accustomed to and I began to self harm. Feeling like I needed those moments of being punished whenever I felt like I wasn’t doing my best or hated myself, I would resort to slapping myself as hard as I could, pulling out my own hair, and talking to myself the way that my mother would talk to me when I was younger. Even though it caused me to be in so much pain physically and emotionally, in a way it filled a void. A longing to be back home in the comfort of a life that I had grown used to.
As I aged over the years a part of me always felt like I didn’t deserve to be here and that every one I came in contact with was negatively affected by me. Constant moments of ups and downs with no explanations, and voices always plaguing my mind of “no one will miss you if you leave. You are a waste of space. You are worthless”. No longer being able to cope with these erratic feelings or thoughts, in April of 2013 after leaving notes for family I attempted suicide for the first time as an adult by overdosing as my significant other sat in the next room unaware. Sending a simple “I love you” text to many of my family members I received a heartfelt message in return from my aunt telling me how much she loved and appreciated me. That moment filled me with so much guilt to the point that I called her and told her what I did, and she immediately came to me and drove me to the hospital. After being hospitalized in the behavioral health unit for four days I was diagnosed with having an unclassified mood disorder. Part of my release agreement was going to my local behavioral health clinic as well as staying on the Zoloft the hospital prescribed. Shortly after the mood disorder was re-diagnosed as Bipolar Disorder. After being told by family that “black people don’t have mental health disorders, you just need to go to church” along with my medication making me feel like a walking zombie, less than a month later I had abandoned both my medications as well as therapy. Trying to secretly maintain my deteriorating mental health, over the next year life became almost impossible to keep up with. My anxiety and paranoia began to increase and my mood began to change drastically. Many of times my emotions and mood would change in a matter of minutes and I could never explain to friends and family why.
Over the next year my deteriorating mental health began to take a toll on many of my relationships which caused me to feel isolated and unwanted. As my health declined I began to shut off friends and family, and working eventually became a struggle. My mood swings eventually became to hard to ignore at work when I was constantly walking off of my station to go into our coolers to scream and punch the walls. Many days my insomnia would take over with me being unable to sleep for over 48hrs at a time, and many of days I would find myself walking around outside from mid afternoon until the following day, with my significant other spending hours having to look for me. No longer feeling like she could handle my behavior my significant other of 5 years decided it was best to separate herself for the weekend in order to preserve her own mental health. Finally reaching a breaking point to where I could no longer handle the constant struggle of my life, feeling like I was a constant burden to others, and fearing that I would lose the only person in my corner, on Monday July 7, 2014 I decided that I wanted to end my life. Filled with rage I took my anger out on anything I could get my hands on and I destroyed everything that we had worked so hard to build in those 5 years. After destroying over 7 rooms I overdosed for the second time. Not remembering much after that moment except for in and out moments of consciousness and my aunt pounding on my chest as she rushed me to the hospital, I had awoken to what I thought was the next day. As I looked around the room I saw that I was surrounded by a safety attendant, family, and officers standing at my room door. In that moment a nurse asked if I knew what day it was, and after I told them that it had to be Tuesday, I was told that it was Thursday and that I had been out for 3 days. The nurse spent time walking with me throughout the halls of the hospital while having me call out which way was right or left to ensure that I had not have any motor skill or brain injury. After returning to my room I was informed by police that I had a warrant out for my arrest for felony destruction of property and that I had destroyed my entire home, much of what I couldn’t even remember. I was asked if I had someone help me because they couldn’t believe how one small person could have destroyed an entire home in the manner of which I did. After being given the option to turn myself in after my involuntary admission, the officers gave me a chance to hug my family goodbye as I was handcuffed and driven to another hospital’s behavioral health unit with stricter settings, to which I spent an additional week there. Once I was able to leave I turned myself in to my local precinct to face whatever consequences that I had created for myself. Part of my agreement to have charges dropped was a court order to attend my local behavioral health center where in August 2014 I received an additional diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, as well as PTSD.
After my diagnosis I was entered into a DBT class, group and individual therapy, and prescribed anti depressants and anti psychotics which allowed me finally start having a normal sleeping habit as well as less frequent mood changes. Once I was finally able to live my life with a clearer mindset I was able to understand just how much my life was affected by my mental health disorders. Because of living so many years untreated I lost many friendships, good job opportunities, my relationship, as well as my home and all of my property. My mental health disorders left me homeless and having to start my life over from scratch. Wanting a better life than what I was given as a child and what I had previously given to myself as an adult motivated me to stay on top of my recovery.
Since 2014 I have maintained my recovery til this day by putting to use the DBT practices learned in therapy, individual therapy sessions, holistic practices, as well as finding support groups that fit my needs. Wanting to do more with the second chance I was given, I joined the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention as a field advocate, where I have been able to attend 5 Out Of The Darkness Walks, as well as received my certifications in “Talk Saves Lives” and “More Than Sad” which allows me to speak out about suicide prevention as well as advocate for better mental health rights. Another way I maintain my recovery is by helping others. In 2018 I began putting together Anti Depression Kits in my spare time and hand them out to individuals who struggle with their own mental health, abuse, bullying, and trauma. I’ve also been able to incorporate my own spiritual practices by leading free group and individual meditation sessions and hiking trips. The most rewarding part of my journey is all of the individuals that I have been blessed to come in contact with and they tell me that my openness about my mental health struggles have inspired them to prioritize their own mental health. Those words alone reassures me that I am more than what I have ever given myself credit for. At one point I thought that my mental health disorders would be the trauma filled legacy that I would leave behind, but it has now become something that has empowered me. It has given me strength to know that I am a warrior, a fighter, an advocate, and a genuine friend to those who need me the most.