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  • Zay Monae

Coco Puff in a Bowl of Milk

Updated: Jul 29, 2020




Dear Reader,

You may know me personally, know me from a distance, or don't know me at all, but this blog is probably for you. I say that because you can probably relate to struggling with depression or suicide, dealing with "ain't shit" individuals, or even contemplated signing up to be the new cast member of an up and coming Porn Hub video...oh just me? OK. Well, every ugly, good, embarrassing and crazy experience is what helped me be the Xaisha Monae Bailey that I am today. I'm going to reveal shit that might steer you away or keep you comin...either way i'm getting this all out.


Coco Puff in a Bowl of Milk (I)

"Why are you so quiet?"

"Mf I don't know."

It was a scarring experience for me when I moved to Oregon, Ohio from East LA. No elote man? No ice cream trucks? Snow? Tf?  Only black girl in every situation? Helllll nahhhhhh. That shit was frightening and on top of that i'm introverted? Bad combination. I just remember one day packing up all my clothes, bratz dolls, and nintendo ds and moving to the city of No Blacks for better living. I was excited at first until I started attending Eisenhower Middle School.

I went to a majority white school and that broke me. That was the first time I realized that I couldn't ask Makenzie what brand of edge control she used. I felt like I couldn't relate to anyone and no one could relate to me. "Your hair looks so cool! Can I touch it?"...it's braids...back off hoe. I spent a lot of time by myself...eating by myself, sitting by myself, doing homework by myself. For weeks, I would beg my mom to send me back to Cali with her since I was living with my workaholic grandma now. I felt like the black sheep...literally. However, one day I went to school and met an angel who helped me get through my transition--Chelsea H. If yall could understand how much she lifted my spirits just by simply acknowledging my presence. It felt like she was genuinely interested in me and didn't have to start a convo with me by saying, "I have a *insert relative who is related by marriage* who's black" or "You look like *insert any remotely black individual's name here*" or "My favorite rap song is *insert name of rap song that you give no fucks about*" just to converse with me. I latched on to Chelsea with the quickness. She put me on to some white lingo such as "dude", "like", "totally", and "OMG", which helped me better survive my tough middle school experience. She was already familiar with black culture prior to us meeting so thankfully I did not have to teach her the do's and don'ts which made me appreciate her even more. 

There was someone who hated my presence at Eisenhower, but I'll just call her Angela Bitc--Billman. For someone who never spoke much nor involved myself in any drama, I felt that she hated my African Americaned soul. I started feeling the hate once I joined the school's cheer team. She was also a member of the team. We practiced together, performed together, etc. but she still acted as if I was on our rival's team. I remember asking her simple questions but she always responded as if I were speaking monkey bonics. Her face would always scrunch up like a pug. One day, during our team trip to Kalahari (indoor water park), I patiently stood in the vicinity of where she was playing a game in which I wanted to play next (I think it was miniture golf). Randomly, she turns around and says to me "Do you gotta a problem? No? That's what I thought."She was clenching her golf club in the most ready-for-war stance ever. I'm thinking "Lord, why you got me on this weekend trip with this demon." I didn't respond to her because I was a scary ass punk ass mf and I was confused too. Why did she hate me so much? I still want to know but that's not the worst of the worst. One incident, in particular, would lead to the contemplation and process of how I would want to end my life. 


Coco Puff in a Bowl of Milk (II)


"I'm an ugly mf."

Although the incident with Angela was the worst...by far...there are other elements that assisted the thought of me wanting to end my life. I truly stand by the idea that the universe plays a huge role in suicide. What I mean by that is, when someone wants to end their life, it is based on: past and present experiences, location, time, weather, relationships, self love, and etc., all combined into one. These circumstances heavily influence an individual's mental health...especially self love. This is important because I firmly started believing that I was an ugly mf.

Prior to the incident with Angela, there was a boy at Eisenhower Middle School who really stole my heart. It is kind of embarrassing that I am admitting this in a blog, but Braxton S...what up doe? Yes, I had the hugest crush on his mulatto self. I desperately desired to be his girlfriend. Desperate to the point where, every night I wrote a note that said "I want Braxton to be my boyfriend" and slept with it underneath my pillow as if it were some raggedy voodoo trick that would actually work.

I first noticed him when I started taking the school bus which he sat in front of me. I would get major anxiety as I waited for the bus to arrive; however, walking down that bus aisle was my moment to shine. I always tried to wear my best fitted apple bottom jeans that way when I got on the bus and walked passed him, he would look back at "it". I yearned for any type of acknowledgement. I daydreamed about him, always had him on my mind, pictured a future with us together, yet he was no where near interested in me. Now that I think about it, my weird ass was obsessed with him. It never failed. Every single time I got on the bus his focus was never on me. It was always on his friend or a squirrel running up the tree outside the window. I couldn't take it anymore. I had to figure out someway and somehow to grab his attention.

One weekend, I planned to do a total makeover. This was pretty big for me because I had never done something like this before but, it was finally time for me to get my man. LMAO. I was a determined young soul and boosted up enough confidence to put myself out there. There was no way he is not going to notice me now. This makeover was a 5 hour process. I took down my crusty braids that had been marinating on my head for a couple months and decided to straighten my hair. This was genius! I never knew how much of an effect this had on my appearance. I went from looking like a young undeveloped man to the beautiful girl I never knew I could be! I felt overjoyed! This was my chance to be Braxton's lady!

I could not sleep all night since I was overly excited. I had my outfit laid out and ready to go! I slipped on my Rocawear Jeans and white v-neck with my clean K-swiss shoes. I combed out my hair and put a ribbon in for a nice touch. I practiced in the mirror how I would smile at him once our eyes connected. Although, I did feel weird about smiling since I had braces. My gums were always swollen so it looked like I had miniature teeth. What a great combo--an introvert with puny teeth! Yay! LOL. 

The time has come! My bus was arriving in just a few moments. My heart was racing, yet I was ready for this. I just knew today would be the start of our history together! Finally, the bus reaches the front of my house. I did a quick mirror check and sprayed myself with my favorite cheap perfume and walked out the door. It felt as if everyone on the bus was staring at me walking out the house. You got this Zay. You got this. I stepped onto the bus and exhaled. This is your runway. You gotta strut like you mean it. Free yo mind. LOL. I began walking as sexy as I could to my seat. I did one hair flip to add a dash of fearlessness. Everything felt like slow motion. However, something wasn't right. My heart began to drop as I realized that Braxton actually wasn't even on the bus! I stopped, looked around, and scanned the bus one more time before I sat down. I couldn't believe it. All my sweat, hot comb, and tears that went into being noticed went to waste. My eyes became hot as if someone flicked a hot cheeto crumb onto my pupils. It felt like a glob of peanut butter formed in my throat. I prevented myself from crying, but man it hurt. I felt empty on a bus full of kids. I exhaled deeply as I stood in the aisle. "Aisha, please have a seat." It's Xaisha, hoe. I took my seat, plugged in my earphones, and blasted Mary J. Blige.

Finally, the bus pulls into school after that pain-staking ride. I managed to recompose myself in the most fake happy mood before walking into class. I dreaded being at school even more that day. I entered class and sat down. My classmate, who sat next to me, noticed my 360 transformation and starts smiling like Willy Wonka. Her breath always smelled like scrambled eggs and green beans. She seemed to do as little with her attire as much as I did with my absent father. Lol that was a little too much huh? Oh. Anyways, she leans over curiously and says, "Who are you looking cute for today?" Girl, if you don't get yo egg roll breath out my face! I grinned and said, "No one." She tilts up her chin as if what I said were unbelievable. "Hmm...you're lying. How come you won't admit it? I'm sure there's someone you like. C'monnn...I thought we were gurlzzz?" She said that ebonicly as she possibly could. Desperate for more friends, a connection, and closure, I admitted who it was. "You know he has a girlfriend right?" I snapped with, "He does????" She says nothing else and quickly goes onto Myspace. "That's her," she said while bringing up a picture of this gorgeous blonde haired, green eyed beauty with the 8th grade body I've always wanted. It seemed in that moment that the world halted. Everything was on mute. Welp, there goes those hot cheeto crumbs and glob of peanut butter again. I ran to the bathroom, entered a stall, and let the tears flow. I'm not sure exactly how long I was in there for, but I'm certain I missed one class and lunchtime. I was devastated. 

You would think my home would be a safe haven for me. Haha sike. The whole purpose of moving from Cali to the Land of Snow was to stay with my workaholic grandma, who was battling severe depression herself, for a better lifestyle. However, out of all of my mom's kids, only my sister Jasmine and I moved to Ohio. At first, this was okay with me because we were always together...as if we were Siamese twins. My mom always dressed us alike and had us doing everything together. Jasmine was absolutely my best friend, my favorite, and my heart. However, coming to Ohio, she had ulterior motives. It was her time to break free and be her own person, but it was in a way where she didn't like being around me anymore. She wanted new friends and this was disheartening for me. Especially at this very moment when I need her the most.

Under my Grandma's roof, lived her long term boyfriend with the creepy feet and my Auntie who always naturally smelled like KFC. My grandma lived at work so I didn't spend much time with her. My Auntie rarely came out her room unless food or work were involved, and Creepy Feet Man always made me uncomfortable for some reason I could never pin point (but eventually down the road, I figured out why and definitely has nothing to do with feet). which only leaves me with Jasmine to hang with.

I came home from this long depressing day at school looking forward to share these sad details with Jasmine. I knew for sure that talking to her would make me feel better. I go into the kitchen to find Jasmine eating a snack at the table. Before, I could even utter any words, she snaps at me and says, "You can't sleep in the room today because my friend (we are gonna call her Kristina) is spending the night." Another punch to the heart and I couldn't combat. I was mentally and emotionally drained and needed peace. It felt like nobody wanted me. I walked away and went into the bathroom and for the very first time and for a very split second, the idea of not being on earth sounded like the most harmonious melody to my shattered heart.


Coco Puff in a Bowl of Milk (III)


"I gotta get tf outta here"

Relationships can play a critical role in our mental health. They can be viewed as a representation of our own worth based upon the magnitude of love and acknowledgement received from others. This is dangerous for those of us with fragile souls.

In the summer of 2006, my sister and I boarded a plane en route to what would be an unforgettable trip to Indiana. Woohoo! Yay! Who wouldn't want to spend their summertime in the mid-west city of Hammond, Indiana instead of Los Angeles?! I felt a sense of emptiness and regret as we took our seats. Before turning us over to the unaccompanied minor escort, my mom warned us not to talk to strangers and bought us McDonald’s cheeseburger Happy Meals to eat during our flight. I remembered the burgers having some thick ass, chopped, raw onions on them. That grossed me out which made me feel even more empty inside. We occupied the middle and window seats and awaited our mystery aisle buddy. Eventually, a tall, heavy set male who resembled a plumper version of Zach Galifianakis approached. Unfortunately my mental chants of please don’t sit here, please don’t sit here did not work. I stiffened up and went into ‘stranger danger' mode as he took his seat. I kept my focus within my window area and minded my own raw ass onioned burger business.

“Excuse me, would you please help me fix my food up?” my sister said to the aisle man. My eyes pierced at her. How could you do such a thing? You deliberately disobeyed mommy and I’m telling on you! I thought as my eyes widened. “Sure, no problem”, the man sweetly responded as he gently laid out the cheap food for her as if it were expensive bed linen. I put my face in my palms as if she just committed the ultimate sin. I couldn’t fathom the thought of her conversing with a stranger but boyyyyy was she getting told on!

We finally landed and was escorted towards baggage claim. I was beyond overjoyed to get off that plane. I looked at my sister with disgust knowing that she could’ve gotten us both kidnapped and raped by talking to that man. Lol yeah I know that’s pretty over the top, but that’s how my young  10 year old mind operated.

“Why did you speak to that man on the plane?!”, I interrogated her as we monitored the rotating conveyor belt. “Xaisha, leave me alone…”. “I’m telling mommy when I talk to her! We are not suppose to talk to strangers!” I desperately said. “Xaisha! Be quiet already!” “No, I’m not going to be quiet because WE. ARE. NOT. SUPPOSED. TO. TALK. TO--”

“Hey Xaisha”, a man calmly said from behind us. Within that moment, I had a slight anxiety attack trying to mentally recognize this stranger’s voice. My sister and I slowly turned around to analyze this mysterious individual. “Do you know who I am?”, he said with a firm yet subtle smile. How does this stranger know my name? This man looked quite familiar, yet I didn't know exactly who he was. He instantly reminded me of Kanye West with a heavier beard. I ran through my mental contact list; however, I couldn’t pinpoint this person. I was still reeling for an answer until he said:

“I’m your dad.”

He hugged me gently, yet I felt violated in a way that I could not comprehend nor process this moment rapidly enough. It was like being embraced by the boogie man. This individual, who has been absent 90% of my life is now in my presence.  Should I return the embrace? Even though I am taught to stray away from strangers? Yes, I knew I was there to visit my dad, but I couldn’t format my emotions in this moment.

I was afraid of my dad... The stories of him from both sides of my family never were pleasant. I was told that my father was a former US Marine diagnosed with PTSD from serving in Kuwait and also had anger management issues. The few times that I did speak to him on the phone, it was always nerve-wracking and awkward. He always spoke in an abrasive manner which made me cringe at his every word. Over some time, my mom made it less of a requirement for me to communicate with him, which I much appreciated. It’s an unfortunate circumstance, but living a fatherless childhood became normal for me, in a sense.

My dad grabbed our luggage and led us to his older model car. I found my half-brother, who lived with my dad, waiting in the front seat for us. He was always so sweet, but continuously carried a sad demeanor within him. My sister and I stiffly got into the car, and looked at each other with the same “I’m ready to go home” look.

We left the airport and journeyed our way to my dad’s house. It was late at night and I never wanted my mom so much in my life! I felt grateful that my sister was there to comfort me with her presence; however, I wanted to dive out of that moving car. I believe my dad noticed my nervousness by my quick and timid responses to his questions. He pulled up to the neighborhood liquor store and got us some snacks to tame our nerves. I remember getting the Fritos Honey BBQ twists and a soda. My dad wanted to open my beverage to show me a ‘cool’ trick of how to open a soda with ease. Man if you don't hand me back my soda. He finally passed my soda and we proceeded on our route.

We arrived at an eerie destination in which he resided. My dad and half-brother walked us into the living room with proud smiles. Although, my half-brother displayed a smile on his face from the moment we landed, I knew deep inside he hated living with our father. I knew about the stories of abuse, neglect, and his troubled childhood. I knew how much he yearned to be under my mom’s care but that just was impossible. I scanned the house and became confused at the thought of how could a fully-furnished home feel so empty and cold. It lacked a mother’s touch, smelled like old canine carpet with a hint of fumes that radiated from the antique heater. I noticed a few pictures of myself within the room. In that moment, I could feel my dad studying me. This was the first time in at least 6 years(rough estimate) that he has seen his only daughter that he deeply loved from a distance. “I never stop thinking about you. I think about you everyday. Not a day goes by that I wonder what life would be like with you,” he emphasized with sincerity. I had no words. I continued observing the frigid walls and my somber brother as he stood in fascination. Then, I realized that this could’ve been my life too.

After my sister and I changed into our pajamas, my dad calls us into a bedroom towards the back of the house. We hesitantly walk into the bedroom and I noticed him standing in front of a suitcase that was lying on the bed. Oh good, what now? Another “cool” trick of how to open a suitcase? Man, if you don’t let me go to sleep. “I want to show you something.” He said this in a slightly creepy demeanor which sparked a tremble within me. I sensed my sister’s anxiety by her stoned posture. My anxiety heightened as he started unzipping the vintage, hideous patterned piece of luggage. It must be a dead body or something! He finally pulled the lid back and there laid perfectly were folded items of girly clothing. I felt some familiarity to a few items as I glimpsed at this "time capsule". “Do you know what this is?” “No?” I uttered. He exhaled, smirked, and rested his hand on the suitcase. “The last time you both came to visit, you were much younger, your mom bought you guys all of these nice clothes for your visit here. When it was time for you guys to return to California, I just kept your suitcase with me instead.” In that moment, my only thought was I gotta get the fuck outta here.  I did not understand why he withheld our luggage from us. Maybe he wanted to wear some of my skirts? Or flaunt my floral shirt? Why didn't he send our luggage with us? All I know is, I got a taste of crazy and became even more uncomfortable standing in front of the piles of my 4 year old clothing.

I went to bed and attempted sleeping through my nerves. I remember my dad asking me if I wanted to sleep in his bed with him....but I would’ve rather died. It was difficult to process this visit with my dad. I felt bothered by him. I always yearned for a Father-Daughter relationship; however, I was so afraid of my own dad. I then realized that the need to continue this forced relationship with my father would eventually fade. Finally, I went to sleep hoping I didn’t awake packaged in a vintage, hideous piece of luggage.

My relationship with my dad was critical and later affected my thought process. In my next blog, I will tie in all of the elements (Ohio, Angela, self-love, relationships) which fueled the plan of leaving this world for good.


Coco Puff in a Bowl of Milk (IV)Prelude


“It’s one of those days where the sun gently kisses your skin and gives it the temperature of perfection. Everything is beautiful. The flowers are swaying to a natural beat and a choir of birds are singing their harmonious chirps. Today is a good day. It’s charming actually. Life is good. Correction—life is great. Even the stream of water flowing through the gutters resembles a piece of Niagara. What a day. An appreciation of the surroundings and the lovely & lively heartbeats of those around you. Peace. You admire those cracks in the sidewalk as you journey to your destination. Everything is in line for greatness. All smiles and the peace is romantically stained in the air. The path is the same. You’ve done the same strides. Left foot, right foot. Suddenly, your escalated blinks match the pace of your heart as you fumble down a small and narrow opening in the sidewalk. You can feel the cement debris tear open your once unwounded skin into a masterpiece of ripped flesh. You’re falling. Heartbeat still increasing. Did you know your heart could beat at this pace of rhythmic catastrophe? Shattered. You look up to see a twinkle of light that symbolizes reality. You’re about 20ft deep in a hole in the ground that limits your ability to move about normally. Trapped. It reeks of mental stagnancy, hopelessness, and physical immobility. Confusion: how the fuck did I get here? Everything was great...now I-I’m here. Disbelief. Which ignites even more to your suffocating-cardiac fuse. Help me! Yet no vocalization is prevalent. Can anyone hear me? Panic. You hear the angelic approach of human beings toward your entrapment. You muster up the inner strength to cry for help. Now's the chance for help! The once known twinkle of light gets covered as a piece of news paper completely masks the slice of optimism forming an obscure lid. Darkness. Here. The heart pounds to your chest and to your back. It's expanding as it fills with panic and restlessness. Will it explode? Distress. Hours have passed. Same status of uneasy and pitch black. The anxiety increases as you’re reminded of the obligations beyond the hole. Family, friends, school, work, and future. Will I ever get out? I’m not getting any better. This must be forever. More anxiety. Flustered. Depression.” ​ -Xaisha Monae We had a school dance coming up. I didn’t really find it important to go because I felt it was a mockery(in a sense). “Who wants to dance with the black girl?” *crickets*...Nobody. Lol it’s cool though. I’ll just dance under the bleachers over here lol jk. It was a repetitive cycle. First, they play songs by popular white artist majority of the time (Party in the USA, Girlfriend by Avril Lavigne, A Thousand Miles, etc.) Then play a couple played out black songs (Crank Dat Soulja Boy, Stanky Legg, Ayy Bay Bay, etc.) that’s the only time I felt popular...when the other kids noticed me or reached out to me for assistance. “Hey Xaisha! How do you do this dance?” Look out Cody, not even God could help you with your lack of rhythm. Even though these outdated songs brought attention to me, it did not feel good. I always hated when a unknown rap song played because someone would approach me rapping along and shoulder nudging me-- “C’monnnn on. I know YOU know this song”. Uhm no, sorry Courtney, but I do not. And then here comes the outraged response of: “Whattttt? What do you mean YOU don’t know this song?! That’s crazy how I know it and you don’t! Aren’t the lyrics like automatically ingrained into your mind when you’re born?!”....ok that was a slight exaggeration but you get the point. I noticed Braxton from across the room. I nudged up my little premature tits and finger combed through my sweaty and tangled hair. I applied a slab of my dollar store lip gloss and exhaled. “I’m gonna crank dat Soulja boy so hard he’s gonna notice me”, I thought with confidence. I could feel it in my soul that I was gonna fuck the dance floor up! My plan was to go 1,000% full out, gather a crowd around me, and Braxton will notice my performance and we will get married and have kids together. This plan is gonna work and I know it is. I was nervous approaching the Dj and almost backed out. I looked at Braxton again from across the dimly lit gym and butterflies of optimism fluttered inside me. I smiled at him (of course he wasn’t looking) and headed towards the spin booth. I marched towards the DJ to request ‘Crank dat Soulja Boy’ one last time. “Excuse me Dj, would you mind playing Crank Dat one more time please?” He looked at me and removed a side of his headphones off his ear. “I’m sorry, what was that?” “Can you play Crank Dat Soulja boy another time please?” He leaned in closer, “I still can’t hear you.” Then I finally did a snippet of the Crank Dat dance for him and then stared at him in hopes that my mini showcase rang a bell. He looked at me like a deer in headlights. Damn we playing charades now? I did the dance a little harder and sang along with the words. “Ohhhhh” he nods his head and says “I know that song but—“ he taps at the clock displayed on his laptop indicating that the party is over. “Please, please, please, just one more time!” I desperately begged. “Sorry hun, I played it many times already and I’m already passed the time limit.” He said with sincerity. It felt like I just missed the bus to Wonderland. He then gets on the mic and announces to the party that’s it's time to go. Lmao he couldn’t have played it for the one time for ole girl? Damn thats trifling. I looked around as everyone began leaving the dance floor. I felt like the satisfied children exiting the gym was a representation of the blood leaking and rushing out my heart. The gym is empty. I stood there looking at the debris of fun, friendship, and happiness left on the floor. I shed a tear thinking to never come to a party ever again. It felt so horrible that I missed my chance. I really believed that was a sign to give up. I wiped my tear away as my ride pulled up. Get over it. Things will be okay....sike. I arrived home. It seemed...different. Before I even entered the house, the energy seemed off. I walked into the house where I found my Grandma sitting on the edge of the couch’s arm rest. She was wearing a soft pink-baggy hoodie and her blonde hair was slightly frazzled. Her posture was slumped and her eyes were glossy which matched her flustered complexion. I scanned the surroundings as I noticed something lacked. There were things packed up so it made me confused. “Grandma, what’s wrong?”. She slowly looked up at me and her eyes exuded a translation of hurt. “I kicked him out.”, she uttered. When she said that, it gave me an eerie feeling. Why would she suddenly kick out someone she’s been dating for over 14 years so quickly? We all just had breakfast together. “What happened?” I asked her. She stood up and looked at the floor as it matched her flattened energy. I could see her eyes welling up as if I told her the world was ending. She brushed her hair back with her fingers and exhaled a deep sigh of agony. She sniffled her pink runny nose and looked at me again but the words didn’t come out yet. It shifted my emotion of confusion to suspicion. Damn, What did this muthafucka do?!?! My sister and I spent the rest of the day observing our grandma pace back and forth throughout the house ridding all and everything associated with her once long term boyfriend. We’ve never witnessed her in such distress. She’s been calmer during tornado warnings. I could hear her on the phone (maybe talking to my mom) and struggle through the conversation competing with her tears and crackled voice. “What am I gonna do? I don’t even know what to do?!?” she desperately disclaimed. I knew things were gonna change drastically. Although, my grandma worked all day everyday and that was enough to cover all the bills, that didn’t leave much room for money to go anywhere else. She became even more stressed. Inevitably, all the energy that ever remotely existed in the house became deceased. This break up was something resembling a movie with an unhappy ending. I had never seen my grandma in such emotional pain. It hurt me to see her happiness fade into grief. She became this person who was extremely emotional and it affected the house’s aura. It seemed like nothing could put a smile on her face. This was influential in such a way that this combination of her break up and my school experiences dramatically impacted me. Cheerleading was something that I initially thought would introduce me to a new realm of life. Something like a pre teen movie where I was a popular girl with many friends and dating the cutest boy in school, and getting compliments left and right. However, that definitely was not the case. In fact, it was the opposite where I struggled with making friends and was always told "Oh my God Xaisha! You would make such a cute couple with *insert name of 1 out 2 of the African American males in school*!!!" Then I'd respond with "it's because we’re black huh? That's why we would make a cute couple?" Then, their eyes became enlarged like swollen boiled eggs and their response would be "No I-I just said that because I-I thought you guys would like, you know, like automatically like click or something. Not because of the color of you're skin. I am not racist!"...bish whet? Thanks for the info. I never understood why the only compliments I would get is "Oh you're so pretty/cute/nice/quiet...for a black girl"...it never felt satisfying to a hear compliment following that (transcribed message) it made me feel...different...as in noticeably black. I didn't want to feel black in a town engulfed with a majority white population. I started hating my skin because it felt like a distraction from what I was inside. I went to a school where majority of the students were not exposed to black people, where they didn't know how to approach nor converse with someone of a darker complexion. I for sure disliked for a stranger to approach me with "I love black people. Just wanted to say that"...Lol like forreal? That’s how we are saying “hello” now? This was the norm… My once fantasy of having a cheer perfect life became dimmed. It seemed as though Angela did not care about making it clear that she was not fond of me. For a person who tries to stay out the way as much as possible, made me even more of a target to her. She was like the hierarchy of the team. It seemed as though mostly everyone looked up to her as the ‘Captain of the Ship’. I got nervous around her. Her energy was so mean that it heightened my anxiety. I was always extremely careful with every word I used around her. With every smile I fixed myself to give her, she seemed even more disgusted by me. This hurt my confidence even more. One day during cheer practice, I felt optimistic to try and fit in a bit more. I went to the bathroom to have a self pep talk. I peaked under the stalls to confirm that I was alone. I exhaled, looked myself in the mirror, and said, “Xaisha Bailey, you are going to fit in today and be happy. You are beautiful, strong, and nice! You are going to fit in, and that’s that!” I formed an anxious filled smirk and walked “pretend” confident out of the bathroom. I peered at the subtle glimpse of my dream of hanging out with my teammates, going to the mall and movies, and getting invited to the cool parties. I envisioned my pink flip phone getting several texts from being included in all the “tea” at school. This is going to be awesome! I returned back to the area where practice was held. I optimistically fastened my shoe strings and tied my hair in a neater bun. We began practicing and I felt good. My anxiety had simmered down and I was talking a little more to everyone. This was amazing for me because everyone knew I usually said little to nothing on a consistent basis. Ultimately, it seemed as though I was on the right path to living my popular teen movie dream.   Practice was almost over and I actually felt good about how everything was going so far. My plan was to ask the team, after practice, if they wanted to take a trip to the movies one day. I felt optimistic that something good would come about with a plan like that. “This will be awesome,” I thought as we rehearsed our cheer routine. All things, were finally at peace it seemed, until I looked over and saw Angela whispering to our teammate Paula (fake name) and looking at me with a slightly sinnicial giggle. I knew that this “secret” that Angela was saying to her was not an ordinary “secret”...This felt different. I could tell by the look of disgust that Paula had on her face in response to Angela’s information. This secret was something you would call: a rumor. A rumor is a piece of information that gets transferred from one source to another. I could feel that rumor travel like wildfire. Today was Angela’s day to use all the ammo she had on my only sliver of happiness. It was like a predator annihilating its prey. I am not sure of what was said but it worked in her favor.  I gulped the bit of livelihood that I previously mustered up in the bathroom and then regurgitated a sigh of hopelessness. I monitored the room. My insecurities fueled as I felt as though everyone already received the rumor and it processed just as she wanted. My heart felt tight, as if there were a rubberband compressing it into a anxiety embodied organ. I knew in that moment my chances of feeling included and wanted in a group were depleted. My plans were ruined. That same exact feeling that I had at the end of the school dance was identical to this moment as practice was ending. I could hear Angela’s laugh as she was leaving the building as if she won a victory. I placed my cheer bag onto my defeated shoulders and made my way to exit the school. I felt something new. It was not something that I’d felt before. It was not sadness, no. This was my introduction to depression. I arrived home. The house’s aura matched me inside: dismembered. My grandma goes into her room and closes it behind her to mellow in her own sorrows. My sister who I shared rooms with wanted her own friends and her own separate life. This all was a perfect infusion of adding to my loneliness. I felt it everywhere from school to home and it seemed like things weren’t getting better. I then remember going to the bathroom and showering and leaving just a few pauses in between my hour long cry. I was extremely hurt at the fact that I would never fit in and I was alone. Once I got out the shower, it was a weird feeling looking at myself in the mirror. I hated myself and how I was made. Why am I like this? Why did God create me this way? Why did God make me go through all of the negative experiences in my life? I started going into a dark place. It seems as though when a person is depressed, all the bad things in life that ever happened are what makes the most vivid memories. Things that affected you in a negative way are replayed over and over and all the good is blocked out by a “negative” detector. I started unlocking the deep and painful memories prior to Ohio that I would pray to God to forget. Those memories began to replay and became a normalcy of repetition. If I ever wrote a book then I may discuss those details but for now we’ll keep it brief. My anxiety and depression became overwhelming. It became this thing where it made me feel even more misplaced compared to others. Overtime, my anxiety continued affecting the natural steadiness of life. I started sleeping in a manner where I would sleep for a couple hours then be in competition with the pace of my own heart beat. Simple things became difficult to do such as getting ready for school, walking to class, entering the bathroom, talking to people, etc. and I definitely skipped cheer practice to avoid further heart ache. The next week of school was extremely dreadful. I absolutely did not want to go to school! At all. I constantly feared that I would face some type of recurrences of Angela’s hate. Of course, I did. I shared a class with Angela and I remember entering class and as soon as she seen me, she turned to the boy next to her and began whispering to him and tossing some more fuel to the hateful fire. The boy then looked at me in a strange and slightly unsteady manner. Great, and I’m sitting right next to them. I never sat so stiffly in class ever in my entire life. I was like a frozen statue made with cemented pain. I excused myself to the bathroom which I sat in the stall for the rest of the day. That entire time in the bathroom, I cried and replayed all the bad memories of my life again. I blamed myself for not being perfect and not being the perfect girl I always wanted to be. The last bell of the day rang and it was time to go home. I passionately hoped that I would not interact with anyone else before I made my way onto the bus. So far, so good. Until, these two boys noticed me. One of the boys turns to the other and says, “Look Joe, that’s that one girl.” Joe then responds with a extremely sickened face and leans over to fake vomit and says “Ugh...that’s so gross dude”. At this point, I wish I had magic powers to zap my way home. I definitely did not need to hear that in such a fragile state as this. I arrived home. It was official, I was so sad, so depressed, that I did not care to be alive anymore. Once again the house matched me accordingly: empty. I wanted to fix this extreme sadness and not suffer from the mental battles of not being good enough, being haunted by the past scarring experiences, and the loneliness. Everyone who lived in the house could not help me, it seemed. Everyone was going through their own phases/journeys of life. My idea of winning the mental battles was to leave earth for good. I grabbed a sheet and began to form a noose to settle around my neck. I headed to the closet where I received satisfaction as I observed my place of finality. I exhaled, as I thought of how much better I would be without suffering. I approached the closet with tears streaming down my face. My mind settled and I swallowed the last bit of sorrow I would ever feel again. I was getting ready to attempt...but then suddenly my phone’s ringtone mysteriously went off. My ringtone was a recorded audio of my baby sister Layah saying “Yaysha, n’doing? (Xaisha, what are you doing?). Layah only knew how to say “N’doing?” for everything. That was her only vocabulary at the time. This was bizarre because it was as if something switched in my mind that woke me up out of this suicidal trance. That was the most impeccable timing God has ever executed in my life. I answered the phone and it was my Layah. Her sweet angelic voice was what I needed to hear. She exclaimed “HI YAYSHA!!!” with the utmost ecstatic energy. She was so happy that she was on the phone with me. I could not gather my thoughts within those seconds but I just knew I was so thankful to hear her voice. I was reminded in that moment that within all the chaotic mental battles, somebody loves you. There’s somebody who thinks about you and admires your presence on earth. Someone who cares more than you can fathom in the moment. I finally remembered and was reminded that somebody loves Xaisha and that I am important to someone and that I matter. In that instance, my strength grew to a new level. It was odd because I’ve never felt a more triumphant feeling than that. It was a powerful energy and it was as if God wiped away my grief in that instance. I knew everything would be okay. I knew everything would only get better. Most of the time, depression has an overwhelming effect that not all individuals can handle. Sometimes depression is difficult to self diagnose especially if you’re the one suffering from it. This mental beast can come sporadically or due to a combination of negative or traumatizing experiences. I believe the most dangerous form of depression is when it’s subconscious. When a person cannot recognize that the sporadic change in behavior, moods, and happiness all is stemming from this extremely saddening condition. We always need reminders that these battles of unhappiness are temporary and that we are loved. We also need to take into consideration that regardless of how we view the severity of other’s problems, everyone processes things differently. It is important that we check on those around us and even those from afar because it takes something as simple as “Hey, what are you doing?” or “Hey, what are you up to?” to add the feeling of importance to a person’s life. ---------------------------------------------------------------- Overall school got better for me. I reported Angela to the principal which made her “almost” lose a spot (rolling my 12 year old eyes) on the cheer team. She became more of a tamed beast around me which made the rest of my middle school year wayyy better. My mom, my stepdad, and my two sisters Layah and Kionna, ended up moving out to Ohio which we then moved into a gigantic 3 story home! Let us not mention, that little miss shy over here got her first boyfriend lol Hey Trayvonnnnn ;) lmao. All in all, my outlook of moving to Ohio had changed. It made me understand my true strength and purpose in life. I enjoy looking at my growth and how much my experiences have made me who I am today. I have people around me who I know love me and I have so much love that I want to give to the world. I’m loving this journey of life and I’m happy to have a place in it. Nothing feels better knowing that this Coco Puff finally found her place in her own bowl of milk... ​ -Xaisha Monae

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