I’ve been having an obsession of reading memoirs of black women. First it was “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay, then “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” by Issa Rae, and now I am currently reading “You Can’t Touch My Hair” by Phoebe Robinson of “2 Dope Queens.” I feel like I’ve been seeking out these stories because I want to write a memoir. Also, they’re all just really awesome, creative and #lifegoals.
The idea of writing memoir first came my mind when I was still at San Jose City College. I was taking a creative writing class and mentioned to my professor that I was interested in writing personal nonfiction. It ended up that she was teaching a memoir writing class the next semester and I took it. Of course, the subject of why so many young people were in the class was brought up. “You’re barely 20, what do you have to write about?”
What did I have to write about? Why would I want to bring up repressed, sad memories of my childhood that could send me into a spiral of depression? Because I needed to deal with some shit, okay? I think in the 25 years I have been alive, I have been through enough stuff to write a whole book about.
The main issue that I’ve had is the lack of motivation. As a kid, I would be able to write the longest, worst crap my mind could come with, generally involving Harry Potter or whatever else I was obsessed with. The last few years, my inspiration to write creatively has faltered. And I realize it’s because of my depression.
I’ve been dealing with depression for years and up until recently, I had been dealing with it alone. Not entirely alone because I saw a counselor when I was at SJSU and she was the first person to tell me to consider alternative methods of help. Over the past few weeks, I made a decision to seek out that method: antidepressant. I don’t generally like to put my business out there, but I feel like this subject is important.
One of my favorite artists, Kid Cudi, recently told his fanbase that he was seeking help for his depression and anxiety by checking himself into rehab. On Facebook, he wrote how difficult it was to share the news with everyone and that he felt like he had been living a lie. “I simple am a damaged human swimming in a pool of emotions everyday of my life. Theres a ragin violent storm inside my heart at all times. Idk what peace feels like. Idk how to relax.” It was also simply put, so poetic, but absolutely broke my heart because I knew exactly how that felt.
It’s not as if Kid Cudi opened my mind to my problem, it’s something that I’ve been struggling with for a long time. I think I might have been depressed since my mom died when I was five years old. I didn’t talk about her death for years after. I felt sad about it, but I also felt a weird sense of shame. As if having a dead mother was something to be embarrassed about. I didn’t like to be different and I didn’t like and still don’t like the look of pity on people’s face when I tell them about my mom. The first time I realized I was “depressed” when I was fifteen, I just didn’t know the word for the feeling. I had began to have suicidal thoughts and it scared me.
At the time, I had been living in a situation that was not only emotionally draining, but dysfunctional and abusive. My academic performance suffered, though not enough for me to be failing. I started my phase of “just getting by.” I was use to getting As and Bs, but suddenly Cs and Ds weren’t that big of a deal. School had once been a place I went to escape, but I felt like an outsider amongst my peers. I walked class to class with this empty feeling inside of me. I didn’t want to live anymore.
I remember one day, as I lay in bed, thinking about the all the crap in my life, a thought occurred to me. When was the last time I looked in the mirror? Like, looked in the mirror at myself, not through myself. I remember getting up and walking to the bathroom, staring at myself in the mirror and instantly begin bawling my eyes out (silently, as I learned to over the years). I started crying because I saw myself for the first time in a long time. There I was, fifteen years old, looking at the six-year-old girl I had been, crying for her dead mother at the bottom of the staircase. I saw the seven year old’s face when she was called a nigger for the first time and the 8 year old being told she was too big to be in gymnastics. I saw the awkwardly nerdy 11 year old being called a “Harry Potter freak.” I saw the fifteen year old crying my ass off because I wanted to die.
After that point, I tried to be happier. I eventually saw a counselor, who was the first person to use the “depression” word to describe me. Since then, it’s been an uphill battle. But, I managed to work, have somewhat of a social life, graduate with a degree, and try my best to live.
My depression has held me back from a lot of things. It’s cause my self esteem to drop, which in turn has made me afraid to do a lot of things. I didn’t join the basketball team in high school because I didn’t think I was good enough. I held off on dating because I didn’t think I was worthy of love. I still don’t sometimes.
I decided to write this to bring awareness to the issue of depression. According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance website, “Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in a given year.” The website also states, “As many as one in 33 children and one in eight adolescents have clinical depression.”
Over the years, I have written some personal things. I do it because I want people to know that they’re not the only ones out there suffering. If you’re reading this and you’re feeling down about anything, reach out to someone. If there’s no one you can talk to, call a hotline or honestly, send me a message. No one should have to feel a lone in a world made up of 7 billion people.