Pretty much my whole life I’ve been an open book, but this one subject I’ve struggled to talk about. Especially in a society where people of color, more specifically black men, feel as if it’s not ok to talk about mental health. Mental health is a subject that has become near and dear to my heart, and over the past year it’s been an even more important topic.
The first time I ever felt like I truly experienced a bad episode was May of 2013. This was the very first time I ever thought about committing suicide.
I was driving home and, my heart was beating fast. I was nauseous and lightheaded. At that moment I could care less about life. I was on the expressway and got up to about 105 mph and came close to going even faster, I said fuck it. Started in the far left lane and began to look at the wall of concrete coming up to the right. I veered over to the middle lane with my heart beating faster. I was plotting out my demise. I thought to myself, if I can crash into this concrete wall hard enough I can end my life and everything will be better. By time I got to the right lane. I caught myself. I cried the entire way home because I never thought I would experience such pain and hatred within myself that I would want to kill myself.
Fall of 2018 was one of the roughest times of my life. My depression and anxiety
levels were at an all time high. I was at a job I hated, bills over my head, and I had just moved back in with my dad to try and save money. There was about a week and half stretch where I had lost about 10-12 pounds, I had gone about 5 days without eating (and if you know me, you know how bizarre that sounds). I was drinking and smoking EVERYDAY. On top of that, I was throwing up about 2-3 times a day. I was at my lowest point possible. I had a panic attack so bad one day that I literally was numb, I couldn’t move. I was stuck. I couldn’t breathe at all. Tears flowing down my face and wanting to just not be here anymore.
After a similar debacle in 2013, I told myself I would never feel like this again. So 2018 was a nightmare I had already been through, that I didn’t want to see again. I called off work several times to stay home and cry. I would lay at home in a fetal position because life had gotten so bad. I pushed away everyone that cared about me.
All the people who had been there for me, I shunned out of my life. But I couldn’t communicate why. Everyone was scared of what was happening. It had gotten so bad that when I was losing weight so dramatically my dad was convinced that I was doing hard drugs, but the only thing I did was smoke weed. What he didn’t know was to the rate of how much I was smoking. I had gotten a vape pen, and with it being so convenient I would smoke every day. Not like a normal every day. Like EVERY DAY. I would wake up smoke. Get ready for work. Smoke. Hop in the car go to work. Smoke. Get to work and soon as I felt the high wearing off. To the bathroom I’d go to smoke. Lunch break. Smoke. Leaving to go home. Smoke. About to go to sleep smoke. This was a cycle that went on for months. But I felt so happy because I wasn’t feeling pain. I wasn’t feeling much of anything honestly. Life was essentially a blur. Of course my anxiety and depression went down, but it was because I was under the heavy influence of marijuana.
In early 2019 I started to work on a few projects. I started working on the Soul’e Sista Podcast. These 3 ladies I was working with, whether they know it or not, helped me break that cycle. I made the decision to stop smoking. All it was doing was making me lazy and minimizing my problems temporarily. As the great poet Kevin Jerome Gilyard (Kevin Gates) once said, “And the Drugs don’t really ever make the problem ever shrink, but they do release the endorphins that help me not to think.” Working on this project helped me realize who I was as a person again. Made me realize how much time I had wasted in the past few months just sitting around. I also began to work closer with a longtime friend Kia Smith (if you don’t follow her you should). She uttered words that I needed to hear, “You need to seek professional help G.” Words that I’ve heard before, but never really resonated with me.
When I was forced to find a new place to live at the beginning of the summer within hours of notice it would’ve been easy to find a way to let depression and anxiety creep back in. I didn’t though. Moved into a brand new place. No money in savings. No furniture or even a bed. A few weeks later I had begun to let the uglies move their way back into my life. I was having panic attacks again. I would wake up every day at 4 or 5 in the morning. Heart beating fast, sweating, feeling nauseous and anxiety racing. I once again masked it.
Now truth be told when I posted my weight loss pic earlier this year.
Half of the weight loss was me actually eating right and exercising. The other half of it was me losing weight to depression and anxiety. For lack of a better term I was ashamed to tell y’all about it.
In September of 2019 I entered a work mentorship program at work. I was paired with a white guy who I seemingly had nothing in common with. His name is Chris Zimmerman. Chris keeps it as real as possible. If it wasn’t for Chris, I would’ve never sought out the help I needed. I know other people have told me for years that I should probably seek help. Hearing it from a person that barely knew me, who took a keen interest in my life when he didn’t have to, made those words hit differently. So I did just that. I sought out real help.
I went to see a psychiatrist. Everything I had known already was true, of course, I was clinically diagnosed with what we all knew. I was prescribed medication. This was very hard for me to take in, but I welcomed it if it would help me change my life. For a while I didn’t know if it worked or not. Me and my coworker Cori talk every day. I would say, “Cori I’m not sure if it’s the meds or what, but damn I feel good.” I also began to take some necessary actions, which I’ll outline, along with meds to reclaim my happiness and my mental well-being. I’m a few months into taking the same medication that Kanye was prescribed. Knowing that makes me feel a lot better, seeing that I look up to Kanye in certain aspects. So, to all my friends and family my medication does make me very drowsy, which was also prescribed because I do have trouble with my sleeping patterns.
I wrote this post for several reasons:
Yes. Medication does help, but people don’t need to be dependent upon it.
To anyone reading this, if you feel like you need to seek medical help, please do it! Your mental health is way too important.
I want people to know it’s ok to talk about these things.
I’m not 100% there, but I’m taking the necessary steps to get there and become better.
Black men it’s Ok. It’s ok to talk about things. We don’t live in a society anymore where we are shunned about having a mental illness or having depression or anxiety. Please seek help. It is one of the best things you can do! I care about us and want us to do better and be better.
Last but not least. It’s ok to take time off from work for mental health/wealth. If you have PTO or sick days, please use them! Your health is way too important.
Here are some things that have helped me. Of course, it won’t help everyone
because everyone is different, but find out what helps you:
I write all the time. Whether it be me writing some poetry, writing a blog post,
a book, a letter to yourself, or WHATEVER. Just do it. You’ll feel better.
I’ve found my love for reading again. I have suggestions if you need them.
The first thing I did was I turned off my text message notifications. Weird right? The constant pinging of phone notifications drove my anxiety through the roof. For whatever reason when I turned those off, I felt better.
Listen to music that makes you happy. Plain and simple. Listen to something you
never listed to before
One thing that helped me was something I randomly stumbled upon. A mediation mixtape created by Shelah Marie. This helped me through some rough times. I shared this with a friend going through a situation where she wanted to commit suicide, and this helped her immensely.
Change your diet.
Yes. The same person who as a kid used to eat Lucky Charms with 2 scoops of sugar, 6 Oreos, and a donut is talking about changing your diet lol. I recently became interested in plant based food products, which I know sounds weird. I stopped eating beef and pork. I try to just eat healthy to feel less sluggish. One of my best friends, Alexia is a super vegan and she pushes some of those ways on me. One thing I did was give up red meat for 30 days just as a challenge and here I am still haven’t had any since March.
Limit drugs and alcohol.
I’ll say it like this. Yes, smoke and drink all you want. However, if it’s hindering you from doing things like it was for me, give it a break. Even then just try giving those things a break. Every few months I’ll go on a cleanse. I’ll go 30 days without drinking just to give my body a break. If smoking weed makes you uber lazy or you smoke like a hype, like I was, give it a break. Yes, sometimes that shit is needed, but if you’re abusing it like I was or worse, give it a small break and just see if it helps.
Find you somebody you can be goofy with.
Whether it be a friend, partner, family, coworker. Find somebody you can be 100%
Get some damn sleep.
Sleep. It’s ok to take naps. It’s ok to go to bed early alladat.
Don’t compare your success to anyone else’s success. You are a unique individual. Don’t measure your life against someone else’s. A lot of people do it for the gram and chances are they might be in a worse situation than yours.
Thank you all for reading I hope this post inspired you to seek out help or encourage someone to do it. Something!
In closing. Find people who care about you and don’t shut them out. Find you
someone who pushes you to get help like a Chris or a Kia. Someone who helps you
laugh about it like a Cori. Someone who’s going through it to who will always have your back and support your journey like a Ceana or a Marcel. Mental wealth is health.
Thank you all to who’ve helped me while I am on this journey. My dad who has always been my biggest supporter no matter what. My work family at Yelp! The R. I. S. E. Program at Yelp. My coworkers, the WuHan Clan. My manager Allen. Chris, Quan, Rob, JFK, Shanell and Cori for making me laugh every day at work. My mentor Chris Zimmerman. My church family! My Wyndham fam! My pastor, Corey D. Lewis! All of my social media friends! My Soul’e Sista fam, KJ, Bri and Kia. My media family, Dough, Briahna and everybody that I met at Swank! My landlord Sierra and her family! All of my close friends in the world Marcel, Gully, Alexia, Mari, Dexter, Ceana, Jennie, Ashley, Demi, Milan, Deon, Both of my Alex’s. My boys Rich and Tae who text me every day to check on me. My family. My mom. My sisters. My big sister and best friend Faith. My nieces and nephews. My Goddaughters Summer and Harper. My cousins Dee, Beau, Kev and Relly! My psychiatrist Dr. England Everyone who has helped me on my journey.
Thank you so much and love you from the bottom of my heart.