It’s been a pretty uneventful week; well, uneventful as far as writing goes for me anyway. I’ve had a crazy case of the writer’s block, its kind of like chlamydia, but worse. Instead of feeling like I’m pissing razor blades, my mind feels like I’ve been listening to Plies speak on loop all day. I don’t think I have enough RAM up there for all that. Not that I would know what pissing with the clap feels like by the way. Chlamydia is the clap right? Or is it syphilis? Wikipedia says that it’s gonorrhoea, who cares what Wikipedia has to say when I can ask my friend Vi…, you know what, lets forget about that one.
After a long day of watching Omar (The Wire) testify and talk about shooting the boy Mike Mike in his hind parts, and looking after my little brother and his annoying little friend (and by looking after I mean hiding in my room until he had left) I’m laying in bed and a trip down memory lane has brought me on to a pretty sensitive topic that is very near and dear to me, something I can more than relate to. I don’t even think this paragraph is grammatically correct, but hey who cares, I’m about to pour out my heart and soul to you, don’t be a prick and start getting technical.
A few years ago this is something that I would’ve NEVER been able to come out and speak about because for many years, I was ashamed.
Lets start from the beginning so you can kind of get a little bit of a background on my situation. Don’t you just hate people that just get into it, no foreplay no nothing; you didn’t even check if it was wet yet. But anyways, I was born and raised, for the most part of my early life, in Zimbabwe. I lived with my mother, as my father lived in the UK, London to be specific, and after a brief visit, I decided I wanted to stay with him. The more you get to know me, you’ll soon realise that I’m very impulsive and I tend to visit places and never come back lol. After moving there, my dad and I quickly realised that we didn’t really know each other that well, never having spent much time together, and this wasn’t going to be a good idea. This is where the problems all started. We never really got on, a little small talk here and a little small talk there and that was about it. My dad is your typical ‘tough love’ African dad, (the kind that doesn’t know what school you go to but can tell you every single day that you haven’t washed the plates since your birth) and for a mama’s boy like me that was used to endless amounts of affection, this was going to be an issue.
I soon moved from London to live with my cousin and his mum in Middlesbrough. That is probably the first time I have ever referred to him as that. We spent so much of our childhood together; we refuse to be referred to as anything but brother. After a few years there, and secondary school was done, I moved back to London to live with my father again, full time. We still didn’t have much in common and he wasn’t the most approachable person, so we never really did get close. Tempman was probably more approachable than him. If you lived in or near Brixton circa 04/07, he’s either jumped out on you or been the reason you took the long route home from school/work at least once or twice. We lived together, but that was about it, there wasn’t much of a relationship. I was like a tenant that didn’t pay rent in his house, they call them squatters right?
A little time went by and I went out and I made some friends, a lot of great ones and a few very questionable individuals. I was getting used to life in London at this point and was growing quite fond of it. One of my friends, a very unsavoury character, introduced me into the world of crime and money, and I built a very unhealthy relationship with it.
We had money, more money than we had sense and I drifted further from my dad because of it. As far as I was concerned, all he really did was give me money and now I had my own, lots of it. I was a rebel without a cause and I did a lot of things that I am still paying for to this day, because I wanted my father’s attention. The only time I really felt like he noticed me was whenever I fucked up, so I made sure I did a lot of that.
I enjoyed my time with my money; it got me whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it. I was living the dream, money was my everything. For someone that felt this strongly about money, you would think that I would take better care of it, but no, that wasn’t my style.
The day I realised that I was broke, was probably the hardest day of my life at that point, I was screwed. This is where it all went downhill. Slowly but surely my life started to fall apart. I had no money and because of the way I conducted my business in the past, I had no ways of making any either.
I became a shadow of myself and I lost an immense amount of weight because I wasn’t eating. I didn’t want to acknowledge it, but I was depressed. I barely left my room, let alone my house. I would stay in bed all day and I would occasionally hang out with my friends and pretend everything was cool. My life was spiralling out of control and I felt like I was all alone and had no one to talk to about it. I was ashamed of my friends ever finding out I was like this and I didn’t want to tell my mother because she was on the other side of the world and she worries a lot. The only other person I could talk to was my dad and we weren’t really close. I was just that nigga in his house that was eating up all the food and not washing the plates. Some people noticed a change in my behaviour, but I always swore it was nothing and they were imagining things.
I was by myself and the more I drifted away from everyone, the worse I felt. I felt worthless and there are days when I woke up wishing that I had died in my sleep. This feeling of not wanting to be around grew stronger and stronger by the day and I eventually reached the lowest point of my life to this day, and tried to kill myself. I won’t get into much detail but I was in a very dark place and I made a very bad decision.
It was at this point that I realised how much I really wanted to live and finally decided that I needed help. I was still too embarrassed to speak to anyone I knew, so I found professional help. It turned my life around. I refused to be medicated so I had to find my own ways to help myself recover. A lot of people see the love that I have for fitness and they have no idea that it saved my life. I found a way to occupy myself that worked and it became my happy place. I spent ALL my time in the gym. It was one of the many things that helped me rise above a situation that nearly consumed me.
There are as many causes of depression as there are people struggling with it: money, family, work, health; purpose—finding it and following it; along with unresolved issues. It can be the culmination of everyday factors or the aftershock of a singular, life-altering event.
Depression is something that is very downplayed by society. A lot of people don’t take it seriously, and coming from the black community, I know how much less attention it gets there. If there’s something we as black people don’t like, it’s acknowledging that mental health issues are not just a ‘white people’ thing. Mental illness is more common than you think; do you know how many roadman/gang members are in mental institutions? Broadmoor is full of some of your ‘olders’. Some of them were as crud as they were because they had mental health issues. Those guys you would see on the roads in puffer jackets and body warmer and Nike gloves in the scorching heat, did you think they were of sound mind?
One of the main reasons I couldn’t bring myself to come forward and speak up was because of the stigma behind depression and mental health issues, I was embarrassed. In many African households, depression is nothing but a rumour that you hear from playing with your white friends and you leave that nonsense at the door when you enter this my house. It’s crazy that we as black people are statistically twice as likely to suffer from mental health issues as white people, but only half as likely to seek treatment.
“Get over it!”
A lot of people think it is as easy and as simple as that. I used to be like that too, I thought depression was something spoilt white girls used as an excuse to get lavish gifts and attention from their parents. It’s not that simple, it’s not something that you can wake up and shake off like morning wood. A lot of people think that it is something they SHOULD be able to get over just like that, which leaves them feeling worse when they can’t.
‘I DON’T WANT ANYONE IN MY BUSINESS AND I HAVE TO DEAL WITH MY PROBLEMS BY MYSELF.’
This is exactly how I was, keeping everyone out and wanting to work on it all by myself when it could’ve been a little bit easier with the help of friends and many. That “I’m a big rasclart man, I can deal with it by myself” mentality lead me to my downfall. I had collapsed from the weight of all my issues and still refused to let go and seek help.
Why did I write this article? I don’t know, its now about 3/4am so it could be poor judgement, who knows, but for the most part, I feel that this is an issue that is very slept on. Something we could be doing a whole lot more as individuals to make easier on those suffering with it. People suffering from depression may not always be the easiest people to love and help, but they usually really need it the most.
Talking and listening, we don’t do enough of that. A lot of talking gets done, but we never listen. When I was suffering from depression, I didn’t know it, hell, I didn’t want it, but I really needed someone to listen to me. I was ashamed of needing someone and that is what happens to a lot of us, especially black men.
My relationship with my dad has improved a lot by the way lol didn’t want to leave without clarifying that. We are 2 grown men that have realised we are different and are trying to make it work.
2014 was one of the worst years for me in a long time. Anything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong, from money to health, anything you can think of. I’m surprised I didn’t start smoking buj (heroin). It also turned out to be the best year for me because I got to be with my family. I think one of my coping mechanisms when I’m faced with hardships, is surrounding myself with the things that I love. I got to see my mother for the first time in 10 years and I also got to meet my little brother for the first time in his 9 years of life. I felt myself slipping into a bad place and I dealt with it before it became a serious issue. The change of environment has done wonders for me. I started the year off on an amazing note and I intend on seeing it through the same way. I have achieved a happiness I didn’t know was possible, but I guess with the right people and energy around you, anything is possible.
I wake up daily to sunshine and an unparalleled love and I can only compare the happiness that this brings me to that of a nigga that just found out that his girlfriends brother is the connect, or that the nigga he consigned 2 kilos from got killed.
If you are suffering from depression, don’t be afraid to get help; don’t be embarrassed to speak to someone. If you think a friend or a relative is suffering from depression, don’t be afraid to lend an ear. You might just convince someone that his or her life is worth living.