Awww Here it Goes!
I’m finally ready to address the elephant in the room. I hope you as a reader are as well. I’ve learned the best way to heal or get over something is to attack it head on, deal with the emotions that come with being a fucking human being—then the healing process finally begins. I wanted to talk about mental health. Then I wanted to talk about depression and anxiety. Then I wanted to talk about my experience with therapy and how it’s helped with my trauma. I’ve been talking and talking about these topics for well over a year. At one point I even lied to myself and declared my lack of motivation to finish what I had started was due to a research phase. Truth of the matter, I didn’t have shit. I had a bunch of empty thoughts that didn’t develop into anything. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t connect mental health with depression and conclude with the need for therapy and how it can help bring you out of that dark place—then it hit me. I was attempting to talk about these topics from an objective perspective. That didn’t work out very well. I found myself writing in circles but could never connect my thoughts and produce something worth sharing.
I got over it. The it? The idea that speaking about mental health awareness and depression, anxiety, therapy, emotions, etc. meant that I had to do so in a way that didn’t ruffle anyone’s feathers. I listened to a song by 2 Chainz where he uses Erykah Badu’s famous line “I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit.” I’ve been playfully reciting that line for a few years and realized I’m actually not sensitive about my shit. There’s a lot of shit I care about but what someone thinks of me or my writing is their business. I live with purpose and write with passion. My homegirl recently told me I speak poetry. It was kind of funny because I believed her, I’ve always had a way with words. It’s been my thing since I can remember. But writing…regularly…and sharing it with almost everyone I know was a huge transition for me. It’s helped me alter my perspective of trauma and shitty experiences. I look at my life and the highs and lows and I’m truly thankful. For a desire to overcome, more than anything.
When I thought about depression, that is before the last couple of years… I thought, that has to be bad! I couldn’t imagine feeling sad all the time and lonely, irritable, just…depressed! Until I faced it head on. I learned I was so wrong. I quickly realized depression was much more than being sad all the time or wanting to be left alone. I had so many days where I would feel amazing inside, then out of nowhere think myself into this trance. While in this unfamiliar place I grew comfortable being blank, feeling numb. I realized depression was not taking a shower for a few days, for some that is normal but for myself it was not. I learned depression was not answering the phone for your favorite people. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I was dirty—I didn’t care. And not answering the phone was mostly anxiety that the person calling would recognize I didn’t sound like myself or question me to death about what’s bothering me. I’d rather not. I learned depression is a lot of texting, a lot of broken obligations, and very few still moments. I wanted out, I wanted to be myself again. It’s like I was stuck in a dark bubble. I went through the motions as if everything was fine, but I was screaming on the inside. I needed help, I needed myself.
By now I’m sure most people have heard the phrase “people are fighting battles you know nothing about.” That couldn’t be more relevant because on the exterior everything seems fine. In part I blame society. The unfair expectations of a man and how he handles emotion is beyond me. We are taught not to show love because it can get you killed. We are taught to not cry because crying is for wimps. In the African-American community more than any we are taught to be savages. Literally. I was born in 1990 so I’ve lived the best of both worlds—life right as technology invaded us, and presently. I still had to have a pen and pad at the skating rink to get a girl’s number. We had to call the house phone and speak to a parent or grandparent before getting access to the young lady. It was just different. The main difference is the change in how instantaneously information is now shared. Fake news and drama are what is most viewed, and most shared. Anything that highlights a moment of embarrassment, exposure, or defeat is shared on multiple social media platforms in seconds. Losing a fight can now be seen by hundreds of thousands and even millions of people. Growing up I remember hearing things like: “Never show emotion!” or “What are you a punk?”. While some things weren’t said directly toward me it was still impactful. Our culture was to never be considered soft, even if you were.
So here we are as young men. Our upbringing taught us to be hardcore yet soft enough to care for a woman and child. Our environments taught us survival while our Mother’s tried to teach us love. No wonder so many people are confused. Can I show emotion or not? If my homeboy gets a terminal illness or I lose my job is it weak for me to break down and cry? By societal standards sure. It’s ok to have emotions but never show them. Never show when you’re angry and never show when you’re sad, only appear to be happy or indifferent. Do you understand how challenging that is? Sure, as an almost 30-year old man I’ve been able to discipline myself to not showcase some emotions, but ALL of them!? You’ve got to be kidding me!
This next portion was written shortly after I spent the day substitute teaching at the school I coach for. I’ve subbed about every grade and most all of the kids know me. As I was walking out of the cafeteria one of the elementary students wrapped his arms around my leg to hug me. As I looked down, I saw him and another student I recognized. The other student waited until the boy who hugged me ran upstairs to go to recess. He looked up to me and said “Coach, I cry sometimes.” I was astounded at this random confession, but also felt empowered. I responded, “I cry too!” The look in his eyes and soft smile solidified the moment. I knew I had helped him but couldn’t stop thinking about how much he helped me. I drove home and used text to talk to write this poem.
I titled it ‘I Cry Too’ for obvious reasons.
I Cry Too
I cry too! My tears just flow down the inside of my face where nobody can see them. I can always feel them, though. It’s like that feeling on a rollercoaster after you’ve slowly conquered the incline. This is supposed to be the best part of the ride but for some reason the weird feeling in your stomach is making it hard to see the Sunshine. I cry too! Like a baby girl who wants something her parents can’t comprehend--so I cry hoping someone will understand that it’s much deeper than a loud piercing sound. My cry is much deeper than any hole in the ground. My cry is much deeper than shorty in that abusive relationship with the clown and nobody in the family understands why she keeps him around but she’s so afraid of doing anything else…imagine going to sleep every night knowing you’ll wake up with a frown. My cry is much deeper. Much deeper than the world will understand because no matter how gentle I present myself to be--I’m an angry black man my cry is deep.
I cry too! But never on the exterior. The world will laugh and meme me to death. Or push until I’m so backed against the wall I commit suicide because the pressure’s too serious. The world will then talk around how their actions made me feel inferior. As a man we’re sarcastically told to cry them a river or a lake, Superior. I keep mic checking my DJ said they aint hearing ya! I cry too! But my tears you won’t get to see. Because if I show you my tears, you’d no longer see me. I cry too, and if you feel like crying fuck the world do what you gotta do.
One thing about life, at some point sadness will occur. Someone close to you will die or something will happen to cause you to experience an emotion. Honestly, it doesn’t have to be extreme as death. Shit I cry when I’m happy more than when I’m upset. I cry because I’m human, not because I’m sad. Because just like me you have the ability to cry too. Don’t feel the need? Cool, take a deep look in the mirror and analyze what you don’t love about yourself. That level of transparency may make a grown man cry, if he can handle it. That’s what I did. I took a deep look in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw. I didn’t immediately start crying but as I chisel away at my characteristics that don’t enhance my lifestyle or supplement my energy, I cry. Maybe not actual tears. But I cry. I feel the pain of no longer doing something I’ve done for so long. It hurts bad too. Transparency hurts more than any physical pain I’ve had to endure, but it’s a necessary pain. If managed correctly it will strengthen and propel you to new levels.
We’ve always heard “good help is hard to find.” Well I’m learning to find good help you have to first create an environment for a “helper” to exist. Seeing a therapist was so low on my to-do list you couldn’t pay me to try it. I had been to anger management and other forms of therapy in high school. I felt like I was unable to be helped, and ultimately fell into a funk. After a few years of declining my Mother’s offers to find a therapist I finally accepted. I’ve had about 11 sessions and I can confidently say I am not who I used to be. Did therapy change me? No. Did therapy help me do things I couldn’t before? Not necessarily. Essentially, therapy has aided in my ability to learn myself. Here I have this complete stranger listening to my every word. Do I give him a filtered version of my reality, or do I pour it on thick? I’m not much of a filtered person but I came to terms with getting out of my own way. If I was going to allow therapy to be successful, I had to not denounce it or feel as if it was some sort of prison sentence. Therapy is nothing more than a conversation with someone who is not going to judge you. A therapist is there to assist you, and the best ones do so without saying anything you don’t already know. What makes my therapist great at what he does is his dedication to learning about me as a human being. Every friend I’ve told about therapy and the impact it’s had on my life was shocked. Shocked that I allowed a stranger into my head. But see I don’t perceive it that way. Nobody can get into my head because I won’t let them. I like to think he’s in my heart. I say this because my actions are based on love, respect, loyalty and compassion. Knowing someone’s heart makes it a bit easier to advise on any aspect of life. Or as my therapist has done in several sessions, just be a listening ear.
This was written with the sole purpose to empower someone else. Where I am in my journey may not be where you are in yours. But I can assure you we can practice similar habits to get there. Big Sean took a hiatus from what he fucking loves to do in order to get his mind right. To focus on his mental stability. His relationships were fading, and his passion no longer felt fulfilling. If you don’t learn yourself and your breaking points, you’ll never be able to break away in time to save yourself. More people should share their journey because in your attempt to save yourself you may just bring a few people along with you. In honor of National Suicide Prevention Week (September 9-14) I present this to you. Share it with someone you know who has been battling. Read it when you feel like you’ve had enough and can’t seem to pull yourself out of that funk. We are in this together, and the sooner we rid our minds of societal norms and bullshit, the sooner we can heal!
Thanks for listening….. Mister!