Friday, November 5, 2010

Protect Your (Mental) Neck

We exercise, we wear our seatbelts, we don't stick metal objects into electrical outlets. We take all kinds of cautions and precautions for our safety. However, there is one aspect of our well-being that we (read: minorities/women) often neglect. That aspect is our mental health.

I think I've mentioned it before, but I was right beside my mother when she died. I watched her take her last breath. I stayed there with her. She died and felt like my soul died along with her. That night I remember just being in a haze. My body was up and moving but I have no clue of where my mind was. I felt empty and disoriented. I managed to get through the funeral and back to Houston.

I figured I'd just throw myself into work. I landed a new gig and I thought that would keep me occupied. I couldn't focus, I was crying in the restroom almost every chance I got. I would catch myself completely zoned out. I would come home and just lay in the bed. I was so tired but I eventually stopped sleeping because of the nightmares. Every time I closed my eyes, the replay of my mom's death would start. I didn't get to lush status, but I found myself looking for answers at the bottom of a bottle.

No one could fully help me. If I had a nickel for every time I heard "she's in a better place" or "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord" or "time heals all wounds" or "just pray about it", I'd be sitting on a beach in Martinique right now. Even though C had dumped me around that time, I will say that she was very understanding and somewhat helpful during that time. But for the most part, I was a zombie.

After C moved in, the zombieness was replaced by sheer and utter anger. I stayed mad. Looking back, I feel sorry for C because I put her through pure hell. I could tell she didn't want to leave me like that but she didn't want to be around me when I was like that. I'd kirk out on her for no apparent reason. I was straight up lunchin' on any and everybody. I just didn't give any kind of damn. I recall one day I was driving and C was in the car. I remember just picking up speed and darting in and out of traffic. I'm sure I was doing at least 90.....I just didn't care. If I died, I died. If my mother isn't here, why should I be? I have since apologized for endangering D's life. I would never have been able to forgive myself if I had hurt her.

All that shiz ended up with me leaving that new gig. The last thing I needed was to be alone with my thoughts. By that time, C was dating someone else. That's all I needed to top off an already awful time in my life. One night, I completely jumped the shark with her. Honestly, I have no idea what started it but it ended with C telling me that she was afraid of me and that I should go get help. #GTFOHWTB I was thinking to myself but looking at her face I could tell she was scared of me. The next day I called the therapist.

The first thing they tell you in therapy is that if you won't be honest, it's not gonna work. It wasn't hard to open to the shrink. She made me feel safe and that my secrets wouldn't go further than ears. After a few sessions, she told me that I was diagnosed with depression and variant of post traumatic stress disorder. Oh great was my first thought because I was certain that she was gonna put me on the "happy pills". Not at all. She told me that she believes that all my "issues" were acute in nature. She could give me happy pills but I wasn't at that stage in the game where I needed them.

I stayed in therapy for around 2 years. I got a chance to talk about all kinds of things that were in my mind. Really helped me piece things together in my life. If you feel like you need to talk to someone, do so. If don't think you can afford it, there are a lot of therapists who work on sliding scales. There are also various counseling centers that are low to no cost. Also, if you're into religion, a lot of clergy offer counseling as well. Don't be so quick to chalk it up to a bad day. Peace.


K. said...

I wholeheartedly concur, bruh. People can get so caught up in trying to be strong that they confuse it with being unbreakable. Sometimes you're just not fine. Learning how to engage and release one's emotions in a healthy way is essential to keeping a firm grip on sanity.

AquariusSoul said...

I've been in the same spot many time. From the age of 15 till about 23, someone close to me passed away seemed like every 5 years. Mama died, daddy died, granny died, aunt who raised my brother and I...yeah she died to. Seemed like death was on every corner waiting to snatch someone from me. I was messed up for a long time. I got to the point where I knew that if I didn't do something about my mental state, I would be in a bad place with little hope for return. Therapy was the best thing I coulda ever done for myself. I am far from the person I was when I was 23, but at any given moment life can clip me at the knees and when it does, protecting my mental state is priority #1. Great Post!