A few times.
On October 5th, I turned 29. The last year of my 20’s. Y’all might remember my post about turning 28, last year. It was upbeat. Optimistic—filled with more hope and high expectations than one could have paid for. I was excited for myself and that year. “Just getting started” was the exact phrase that I used. My words of affirmation balloon release + champagne toast + brunch that weekend, was so awesome and meticulously planned out, that I just knew it would set the tone of the most perfect year.
*laughs in disbelief*
Two weeks after I made that post, I fell into a deep depression that lasted for about a week. It was the first time that I can remember being that depressed for that length of time. It was right after I went to my Alma Mater’s Homecoming, (Ayyye, ---the real HU) so I just thought that my mood was affected by the amount of time I spent on the Yard people watching and drinking too much dark liquor.
Little did I know that it would be deeper than that—more about that later.
From that moment on, twenty-eight seemed to be filled with lots of lows, and many moments that I could categorize as more “interesting” than fun. The highs were few and far between.
I seemed to be confused a lot and my job was stressing me out. At the top of the year I just stopped feeling it altogether. The sadness was coming back more frequently, and with more intensity each time. In March, the person I was dating and I broke up—couldn’t see eye to eye anymore-- which exasperated my emotions a little more than expected.
That same month, I became a certified Spin instructor—a goal that I’ve had for some time, which lifted my spirits, but only for a few moments. I wasn’t writing as much. I wasn’t working on my own projects or sleeping as much. Or sleeping too much. I gained weight quickly. I lost it just as fast. Something was wrong.
In April, I decided to take a leave of absence from my job, citing stress as the cause which my therapist signed off on. The day after my leave started, I couldn’t get out of bed.
It was an ongoing struggle. Yes, there were some days I felt “ok,” even “genuinely happy” but those things were relative. Lest we forget that smiles and conversation don’t always mean what they represent. In means you’re functioning—if that. Many days I was unmotivated. Many other days, I was just... a shell of myself. "Keeping busy" wasn't the answer. I couldn't focus on anything. Neither was "just be positive." I drank a lot.
In late May, I made the decision to make the move to finally check out Atlanta. I'd been heavily considering it since the New Year and it was something I wanted to do since at least undergrad, but didn’t start to think of it as a reality until around 2014. I was desperate to find something to help boost my mood and thought that a change of scenery would be the key. I lasted 2 weeks in the A before the mounting gloom that was looming daily began to overwhelm me. I packed my shit and came back to New York. The day I got home, I found out that my aunt who helped raise me, and whose 80th birthday surprise party I had just helped plan in April, was on life support. She died two weeks later. I helped plan the funeral.
Interestingly enough during that time of making slide shows, assisting with the schedule of services, deciding on burial plots, etc., my mind was focused enough to keep myself from falling. But as soon as the funeral was over, it was dark again.
One Monday in July, after hours of sleeping and weeping so hard that my eyes were almost swollen shut, I called my therapist and told her that I wasn’t having any good days and that I needed help.
I quit my job.
She got me some help. We discussed what I had been avoiding for some time—clinical depression. Evidently, it’s been going on for a while.
We talked about genetics and predispositions.
We talked about triggers, warning signs and taking breaks when needed.
We talked about things that frankly, I’m not yet ready to share.
We talked about remedies and coping mechanisms including but not limited to, continuing to exercise, meditation, going back to the things that make me feel grounded, exploring certain kinds of medications, and together, we were able to develop a plan that has slowly started to, and hopefully will continue to, help me fight the good fight.
With all that happened last year, I was afraid to plan or get extra hype about this birthday. I just wanted to go with the flow. The only thing I had planned was teaching a Soca Spin class in D.C. on my birthday. (I had to get out of NY—some of my closest friends left and moved, and NYC is a trigger—go figure) I spent the weekend hanging out at some of my favorite places in the District. I had a chill, but fun/relaxing time on that weekend.
But on October 5th?
I cried for the things I didn’t know.
I cried for the hours I stayed in bed.
I cried for the relief that I now feel.
I cried for the Grace that I started not to recognize.
I cried for the Grace that I now feel familiar with.
I cried for all the times I forced myself to keep a smile on my face.
I cried for the harsh self judgement.
I cried for the misunderstanding.
I cried because I know where this came from.
I cried because my friends never left my side.
I cried because healing is not linear.
I cried for the love that I had but couldn’t express.
I cried for the light that almost went out.
I cried for my peace.
I cried because God saw fit to keep me.
The tears were necessary. They’re there to refresh the spirit. To replenish the soul. I don’t want sympathy. It's still all so new and very much a journey, but one that I’m happy to be on, because it means I’m still here.
October 10th was World Mental Health Day.
My hope is, that if you're struggling, you take the time to be better, kinder and gentler to yourself.
My hope is, that if you're struggling, you do whatever productive thing you can/ what you need to, and get some help to find, take back, and keep, your right mind.
One step at a time. One day at a time. I'm right here with you.