This topic strays away from my music-based comfort zone, but with all of the misconstrued talks about depression on social media (especially with the recent passing of Robin Williams, R.I.P.) I felt inspired & thought it was the right time discuss my own experience with depression. Many people place stigmas on this illness and do not fully understand it. Just to clarify, I am in no way looking for sympathy. I just hope my story can help others in need and shed light on a taboo topic in our society.
It has been something that has always been alluded to in my writing (specifically my poetry), yet I never felt comfortable talking about it on a public platform. The first time I ever revealed myself was this year, during my final semester in college. I gathered up the courage to talk about it (I like to refer to my illness as “it,” even typing the word makes me shudder) during a memoir assignment for my Creative Writing course. The responses from my classmates were surprisingly assuring and non-judgemental, which made me just a tiny bit more open to talking about it on here – The Library.
According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 9 percent of Americans live with depression. It may seem like a small number, but it makes a big impact. I have been dealing with it ever since I was 13 years old (I am now 22). The worse points occurred in my high school years, but I was aided by my only best friend and who I considered my first true love – Cameron. He was the only one who understood my situation at the time, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know how I would’ve made it through high school. But when he exited my life to move on to another relationship & other various reasons, I was completely lost. I didn’t know what do to – I’d become hopeless. Yet I was too scared to tell anyone. I did not want to become a burden for my family, nor did I want anyone’s pity. To make matters worse, I had the judgemental eyes from my peers and teachers burning holes in my back. Some teachers even alluded to the fact that I was “crazy” and recommended that I seek professional help.
I looked to so many things as my “way out” or to temporarily ease the pain – razor blades, drugs, cigarettes, painkillers, the works. Yet the one thing that I kept coming back to was my precious journal. Writing for me as become such an important outlet; I can’t even begin to explain how much it changed me, how much it literally kept me alive. For some people (including myself), it is just not a mental illness. I’ve felt physically pain from depression (during my middler year…I went to Northeastern) where my body would ache and I couldn’t physically move from my bed to go anywhere – not even classes. It also affected my appetite at one stage, where I stopped eating & lost a decent amount of weight (which is huge for me, anyone who knows me knows my love for food!) At one point, my doctor asked if I wanted to take medication for my illness. But I refused, as I still felt the intense whispers of judgment in my ears. My parents ignored my issues during the early years, not wanting to believe it – the typical response from black Americans (which is a whole ‘nother topic within itself). But with time, they’ve become my biggest heroes and the strong backbones that I desperately needed.
People always say “Just get over it!”or “Pray it away” or “I’m sure it’s not that bad!” What they don’t realize is ITS NOT THAT FUCKING EASY! Whenever I see statements like that, it hurts because so many people are either ignorant or uneducated when it comes to mental illnesses. Almost 10 years later, it’s still a daily battle for me. Nowadays, I’m not the happiest – but I don’t feel ashamed or embarrased. I’m at a secure place with great friends and an incredibly loving family. Because of them, my heart and mind don’t feel as heavy anymore. And for me, with all of the things I’ve been through, that’s a step in the right direction. The demons on my back may be permanently dormant, but they no longer silence me with anguish.
If you suspect someone you know is suffering from depression or thoughts of suicide, please reach out to help them before it’s too late. Also, if you ever think of contemplating suicide the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.