Depression, You Snake
I’m not depressed today, but I was yesterday.
Depression is as obscure as the deep sea.
Depression…where did you come from?
Up until 2016, I shrugged off depression as if it were a trivial mental illness compared to the likes of a big daddy like Schizophrenia.
When the growing pains of adulthood got a hold on me, it felt like I had become a GOP republican that dismissed major issues until it affected me and my loved ones.
Now I’m dealing with the issue.
Depression made a grand entrance, more grand than I had anticipated. That’s how it usually happens, that’s how it gets you.
To give you some background, I’m the loony guy. You’ll always catch me smiling, speaking to strangers, and helping others. I’m a firm believer in sending out positive energy into the world because people need it. It took me years of self-improvement to reach this belief system, and before I moved to Los Angeles, I thought that I had built a solid foundation to protect my mental health.
Boy was I wrong.
I moved to L.A. eight months after my greatest influence died, my grandfather. During those eight months, I didn’t know it then, but depression was setting up shop.
Depression disguised itself during the greatest days of my happiness.
My grandfather lived to be 101, and being the realist that I am, I prepared myself for his demise. Still, his death took a toll on me, but it wasn’t paralyzing. If anything, his death lit a fire under me.
In that time period, I had a laid-back management position, I was a drunken social butterfly, and I stepped outside of my comfort-zone more often times than not. Everything seemed normal.
Then 2015’s February came, and I began to feel this massive void. The void was not only the absence of my grandfather; it was his home (the home that everyone in the family came to and grew up in), the severed ties of a tough loving dysfunctional family, and the purpose of life.
What was/is my life’s purpose?
In that month, depression took root, but it didn’t grow to spread its toxic chemicals yet. I still had a trick up my sleeve to combat the then unknown archenemy.
When I was 12, my mother sent me on my first plane ride to L.A. to stay with my aunt, uncle, and eldest cousin. My aunt and uncle both passed away last year. I thank them for being a part of the greatest August I’ve ever had. From then on, I had it set in my mind that I was going to move to Los Angeles. Even before I discovered my passion for show business, I told my mom, “I’m moving to L.A. after college, and you ain’t gone stop me woman.”
And I did…some years down the road.
I graduated from Michigan State University in December 2012, and didn’t head out to L.A. until 2015. Between that time period, I lived with my grandfather, right up until the end. I vowed, that after he left this Earth, Michigan and I were going to seperate. So, I saved, and saved…
Sike. I barely saved $3,500.
I put in my two weeks notice at the top of May, packed up my car, and was gone by May 28, 2015. It was on impulse (a nefarious habit of mine), one of those ‘now or never’ kind of impulses. I didn’t tell many people that I was leaving because I’m not too great with goodbyes. In fact, I told my loved ones that I was moving a week prior to leaving.
Depression was nowhere to be seen during the big move. Depression incubated five months before it knocked on my brain’s door.
It was November 2015.
I got a decent job with great benefits, and within 6 months depression reared its ugly head.
How could I let this happen?
I fell into the trap. The trap that nearly everyone falls into when they move to a big city, and get caught up in all of the pleasurable distractions it has to offer. I wasn’t actively pursuing what I came to L.A. for. I wasn’t working towards the thing that made me happy.
Depression is a sneaky snake. It waits until you’ve had just enough happiness. It waits in the brain’s field of emotions before it swoops in, and wraps its dry scaly body around you. You’re now stuck with two options:
- Let it crush you until you can no longer breathe.
- Muster up enough strength to break free from its constriction.
This is when self-awareness comes into play.
I believe that most people who have depression, diagnosed or not, are mindful people. We know that we’re depressed, and we know why we’re depressed. The problem is, how do we stay afloat when the light goes out?
Do we keep reminding ourselves that we’re depressed? Or do we remind ourselves of what makes us happy? Or is it a combination of both?
For me…combining those two questions help to alleviate some of my depression.
The entrée for my depression usually comes from a job I don’t enjoy.
When I started working at my current job, I was put on a 6 month probationary period, and I was running low on funds, so I worked from sun up to sun up (you read that right). I got caught up with a company I didn’t see myself working for within the next three years.
I even spent the New Year working, and that alluded to the kind of year I was going to have.
Working for someone or working at a job that doesn’t fufill my purpose affects my mental health. Okay, got that.
But I’m still depressed.
In 2016, I lost a great deal of family. Most of them to cancer, and one from a broken heart. On the outside, I didn’t let any of this affect me (I only shed a few tears at their funerals), and that may be part of the problem. I come with the stigma of being not only a man, but a black man that shouldn’t show much emotion.
Death can cause depression, and depression can cause death.
I’m not suicidal, never have been. I’m far too curious about life outside of myself.
Major depression that leads to suicide is a topic that I can’t speak on, but I can speak on numbing the pain of reality away. Numbing depression can lead to accidental suicide, and I can attest to that (more on that later).
I missed the guy that I had become during my final days in Michigan. By the end of 2016, I didn’t recognize that guy at all. I fell off the grid, didn’t talk to anyone, didn’t groom myself, lost all desire to see my goals through, and avidly self-medicated.
How was I supposed to get out of this world of darkness?
Before the holidays arrived, I flew back home to visit my grandparents’ graves. I needed to talk to them. They made up a great deal of my fondest memories, and I wanted to figure out my issues where they lay.
That same day, I told my mother what I was going through. It was an attempt to break the stigma that I mentioned earlier. She took it more seriously than I thought, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.
However, due to her own declining health issues (which recently added an unsurmountable amount of worry on me) I don’t discuss much of my life with her. She’s constantly bugging me to settle down, and forfeit this life of solitude that I’ve grown accustomed to. For the sake of sanity, I do discuss any problems that arise with my father.
In the final months of 2016, I took the steps needed to have a prosperous new year. I dug myself out of the trenches of negativity (I’m still digging), and soaked up the small things that made me happy. I began to come out my shell again.
As of today, my long periods of depression have subsided, but it still visits…
To prey on my self-doubt.
It embraces me with it’s open blue arms.
Yesterday, depression paid a visit, and we exchanged words.
The conversation was short, but the talk was needed to rediscover the things that ignite my passion.
That’s what you all have to do…
In those dark moments dig deep, and discover what your passion is. No matter how small it is, use it to get out of that seemingly eternal funk.
You’re probably going through much more than I am, but we’re all in this together. We’re all connected to each other. Reach out and talk to someone (even its your goldfish) because I’m sure someone is trying to reach out and help you. You have to step outside of yourself and pay attention.