First of all, let me say that mental illness is real. Now, when one thinks of mental illness, for many, the first thought that comes to mind is a straight jacket, a padded room, and the inability to function. That is not what I suffer from. I suffer from sadness that is sometimes debilitating. This sadness is known as depression. For me, depression entered my life like an unwanted guest that had no intentions of leaving after the death of my mother. Initially, I thought that I could handle it. I couldn’t. I thought that I could drink it away. I couldn’t. I thought I could sleep it away. I couldn’t. I thought I could exercise it away. I couldn’t. I’ve even tried to love it away. I couldn’t. Like most of the mountains that I’ve climbed throughout the course of my life, I had to face my depression head on. Was it hard? Yes. Is it still challenging? Absolutely. However, this is something that I am dealing with on a daily basis. You see, when I was a child, Black people, especially Black men, didn’t discuss depression. For us, it was just life. As I’ve grown as a man, I understand now that it’s not. Depression is something else. When I was younger, I was taught to handle depression in one or all of the following ways: going to church, going to the club, going to a bar, sex, avoidance, refusing to speak about it, or keeping it to myself. None of them worked. For me, depression was like a scarlet letter that once acknowledged, I would be perceived as a weaker man. I now know that I am not. I’ve never written about this, but I will now. I recently learned that a friend of mine killed himself not too long ago. In my silence, I was devastated. Why would he do that? How could he do that? Even though we hadn’t seen each other in quite some time, I felt robbed of laughs, memories, football, and drinks that we can no longer share. Why didn’t he reach out? After moving past my own ignorance, I understand now that he couldn’t. I believe that he lost both his words and trust in people that were once considered family and friends. Because life is sometimes the equivalent of trying to catch the wind in a jar, we are all trying to keep up. However, when someone that you love, consider a true friend, or is just an overall important person in your life begins to show signs of withdrawal, disinterest, silence, or seclusion, don’t turn a blind eye or a deaf ear. Despite what many may think or believe, depression is not something that you can just “get over.” Like the raising of a child, living and enduring life with depression requires the support of a village. As humans, we all desire a tribe to belong to. Sadly, I lost a member of my tribe, and I feel his loss everyday. Family, I know and understand that social media can make us believe that our own lives are inadequate because everyone seems to be so happy and prosperous. Don’t believe the hype. The reality of the matter is that for some, they are nothing but well organized and designed photographs. We live in a tough world, and right now, it seems to be spinning out of control. If you feel the same way, in the words of Donny Hathaway, “hang on to the world as it spins around.” It will get better, but it takes more than prayer, it also takes effort. If you find yourself suffering from depression, please seek assistance because the world needs you. They say that when a child is conceived, a man ejaculates 100,000 sperm cells, and of those sperm cells, 99,999 die. The surviving sperm cell is you. This means that you are not a mistake. While you may have made some mistakes, your being and presence isn’t one of them. This thing that we call life is a game that we learn while we are actually on the field. Let me say it again; the world needs you. Your children need you. Your family needs you. Your friends need you. We all need you. How do I know? These are the words that I tell myself each morning as I look into the mirror and face the hardest person to deal with in my own life; me. Recently, I was speaking to someone about loving yourself. I firmly believe that before we can practice self-love, we must first accept ourselves. Self-acceptance is the introductory course to self-love. Again, there is nothing wrong with you. The truth of the matter is that some wounds just take longer to heal that others. If you are depressed, or you know someone that is battling depression, don’t wait to deal with it. Deal with it now. Please call (800) 273-8255 and begin your road to healing. It’s like lifting weights, at times, we all need a spotter. With that being said, if you ever find yourself needing a spotter, I’m here. Family, thank you for supporting me on this journey called my life. I firmly believe that the best is yet to come.
As always, this week, do something to help someone else for no other reason than to make their lives better. Also, if you do something good for someone, don’t document the moment on social media, for the Creator sees. I believe that at the end of the day, that’s truly the only thing that matters. If you make it to where you’re going, please don’t forget to leave a map for the rest of us. Oh yeah, if you’re looking for the answer to the most serious and imposing questions in your life, here’s the answer (drum roll…), Love…… Patrick