Some people seem to fit perfectly into society. They make success and happiness, the things I long for, seem easy. I understand that it is not as easy as it seems. But, to me, sometimes it feels so unattainable.
I have dealt with depression, to some extent, for a long time, but these last two years, since the beginning of the pandemic, have been much worse.
In the eyes of many people, including the elderly in my family, I am a successful black man for staying in school, graduating, going to college, and all the “don’ts”: not getting caught up in gangs or drugs or anything like that . that. But I don’t feel like a success. Not at all. And when I think of all the people who are worse off than me, the ones who didn’t have the opportunities for my so-called “success,” it makes me even more depressed.
How did this happen?
Like my battery couldn’t hold a charge
I think a lot about how I came to feel this way. I could attribute something to family problems. Especially the pressure of feeling like the last hope of the family, but also of having an autistic brother. Dealing with an autistic sibling can be exhausting, it’s a full time job and feeling like the constant responsibility is even more pressure on my back.
I could tell it was growing up in South Los Angeles and never feeling safe taking a walk to the liquor store. A few years ago, a man was shot dead right in front of our house. That had me paranoid for months. Having to scrub blood stains from the floor is a trauma for you. Still, my environment is not what had me so depressed these last two years.
Adolescent Mental Health Crisis:I’m not counting on my anxiety to go away
When I’m at the bottom of a bout of depression, I feel like I’m sinking. Slowly my mind, my body, my life stops. My room starts to get cluttered, my emails pile up, homework gets undone, I spend all day in bed. I just can’t find a reason, on my own, without someone yelling at me, to do something.
During the first months of the pandemic, I got used to never leaving the house. Now, it has become difficult to break that habit. Socializing with people feels exhausting. It’s like I have a social battery inside me that has no charge.
Graduate on YouTube
During the first few months of the pandemic, I began to realize that things were not going to return to normal as the news or school newsletters promised. The uncertainty left me stranded and my mental health began to suffer.
I managed to finish my classes and get a diploma. The graduation ceremony was on YouTube: short, nervous speeches in front of a camera from my depressed classmates, followed by the vice principal reading everyone’s names. That was sad.
We also had a graduation car parade through the school parking lot. That was fun and I appreciated all the teachers and everyone for showing us love. It cheered us all up for a while. But underneath it all, we feel numb, even pacified. Somehow it made the whole pandemic and its chaos hurt a little more.
I suffer from depression and anxiety. Our mental health is no joke.
Our children’s mental health is suffering. And American schools aren’t ready to help.
I enrolled in a community college and tried to find my motivation. I’m still trying. The hardest part of the transition from high school to college was that there was no transition. None at all. He was logging into class on the same computer in the same house that he had been to in high school remotely. I kept trying to imagine my future in the world, but it was getting harder and harder.
Lately, I’ve been starting to feel like a agoraphobic. Maybe I am one. There are times when I hate being home but can hardly imagine being anywhere else.
I try not to ask for help or complain too much, which may seem hard to believe after reading my long list of complaints. I am actually quite stoic, as most men are or try to be. The men who preceded me in my family fought much harder than I did, but they didn’t complain about it, so why should I?
I had a hard time seeking professional help. Last summer it got so bad I could feel myself slipping away and I signed up for counseling.
I would talk to this therapist and it was a relief to have someone to talk about all of this with, someone who wasn’t going to judge me. I wish I could say I’m fixed and my depression is gone, but I can’t. Maybe I’m getting better and I still don’t know.
I’m afraid of getting stuck
I’m trying to get better at understanding myself and thinking about being the person I want to be instead of the person everyone expects me to be.
What scares me the most is that when the smoke clears and life returns to a semblance of normality, I will find myself trapped in the same life and the same mental patterns anyway. I will have been through all this pain and sorrow and I will have nothing to show for it. But I think I’m strong enough to find a way out of this nightmare.
Since I can remember I have dreamed of the life I would like to have. He’s not here in Los Angeles. It’s not in any city anywhere. I would like to find a place where a person can have 10 or 15 acres and some animals and plant things and have a family and some friends. A simple life. Peace of mind.
I am afraid that life is not really available for someone like me. I’m afraid I’m dreaming of a ridiculous version of the past.
Maybe he’ll figure out something more realistic and how to get there, but in the meantime, he might need a ridiculous dream to keep going. I can’t understand why, but I’m actually optimistic for the new year. These last two years have shown me that depression can take away your time, your energy, your whole life, if you let it.
This round, I’m not going to let him take any more from me. I’m more used to the pressures and pains of this new life of COVID that I’m living, so it’s not as debilitating anymore. Things are getting easier.
It will eventually be perfect, at least I hope so. Discovering it step by step is what makes this part of our lives so memorable, right?
Mekhi Williams is a student at Los Angeles Southwest College in South Los Angeles.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism