Just when I feel like everything in my life is going well and nothing can go wrong, I get a visit from an old “friend” who turns my life upside down. Friend isn’t the right word to describe this illness but considering it’s been a part of my life for the past 12 years, we’ll stick with friend for now. The month of April was full of highs and lows for me. I was published twice in nine days, I celebrated my five-year anniversary of living in Los Angeles, and I celebrated by attending Kobe Bryant’s last game. But through all those milestones and achievements, there was two constants. Loneliness and sadness. I had no one to celebrate with. My friends were too busy, my family lives on the other side of the country, and I’m single. I found out firsthand what successful people mean when they say, “The top is lonely. Success is lonely.”

While I was proud of my accomplishments and achievements, depression took control of my mind and emotions once again. Being alone was the only thing I could think about. I started to dread going to work. I was homesick and getting out of bed was a chore. I relapsed and started to drink (on three separate occasions) and smoke weed (a few times) to cope with my anxiety, stress, and overwhelming feelings of sadness. I didn’t want to fall back on self-destructive habits again but I couldn’t help it. I was drained. I wanted and needed an escape.

I talked to my boss about getting time off. He was surprised. I told him, “I’m drained. I’m depressed and homesick.” He told me he would think about giving me time off. He said, “If something is really going on, I’ll give you the time off but I don’t want this to happen again in three months because then it will be a problem.” I nodded my head. I don’t think he understood the severity of depression. Unfortunately, most people don’t. They think it’s something you can brush off. They think I can just wake up the next day and say, “I’m better now guys. I’m happy!” I wish it were that easy.

I was upset my boss didn’t think depression was something serious but I let it go. I didn’t care. I had no energy to go into the specifics of depression and how it can be draining. Yes, I had three months off when I was unemployed but that free time was a living hell. I fell into a deep depression. I wanted to pack my bags and move back home to Lynn, Massachusetts. I wanted to give up on my dreams. I wanted to be around my family more than ever. My roommate noticed my mood and told me, “Don’t get defeated.”

After being sober for 13 months, I had my first drink the day before Thanksgiving. I spent the next ten days drinking every other day. I didn’t care anymore. After those ten days I was able to regroup and get sober. I had three months sober until about a month ago when I felt overwhelmed by success and everything going on in my life. I know having a drink isn’t the end of the world but I prefer being sober. I like being in control of my life at every moment.

I’ve come to learn that when depression tells you no, you say yes. When depression tells you to give up and quit, you keep fighting. When depression tells you that you aren’t good enough, you give yourself an abundance of self-love. When anxiety has you worrying non-stop, you pause, take a deep breath, and continue. One step at a time.

I don’t know what will happen next but what I do know is that I will not give up. What I do know is that I will continue to fight for my sobriety and happiness. I will be visiting my family for Mother’s Day and I know I will be showered with love and affection. This visit couldn’t come at a better time. I know I have to keep pushing no matter how many times my “friend” decides to pay me a visit. A couple of years ago I told my friend Jabriel depression is something I will probably have to deal with for the rest of my life. He said, “I’m sorry man. That sucks.” I replied, “It’s okay. I’m used to it now. I have ways to deal with it.”

I don’t live with a mental illness. I thrive with a mental illness. A few of my co-workers also live with a mental illness but the way they live their lives is so beautiful! They have such a care-free attitude. I love being around them because they exude positivity and joy. I strive to be like them. It’s easy for people to look at my co-workers and realize they may not have it together mentally. It’s easy for people to look at me (a Dominican/American man) and think I’m “normal.” I want people to see me and understand that mental illness comes in all different nationalities, social status, races, colors, etc. It doesn’t matter how you look. Your favorite musician could suffer from a mental illness. Your banker may suffer from anxiety. The CEO of your company may be dealing with depression.

When I sent my friend Mark the link to my second piece that was published he said, “Yes!!! Way to go! I’m so happy that you’re always doing what you love even when you have so much going on. Keep up the great work and I’m always rooting for you!” He gets it. He truly understands what I go through. I will always do what I want no matter how many times my “friend” tries to control me. I am living my dream and breaking down the stigma attached to mental health. There is always something worth living for. Life is worth living.

3 Comments

Find Our Page On The Mighty