What A Difference A Year Makes: On Battling And Beating Depression » VSB

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What A Difference A Year Makes: On Battling And Beating Depression

Alex Hardy

 

If I had moved to New York last fall as intended, you would be surely be referring to me in the past tense today.

I wasn’t ready, mentally, financially or emotionally to give up my chill yet scatterbrained and spiraling life in Panama to write and powerwalk for a living in the City That Never Covers Its Mouth When It Sneezes. But that didn’t stop me from telling myself, my family, and the world that they should deck the halls and bring forth their finest celebratory hams and splurge on the jackiest of pepper jacks for thy macaroni and cheeses and prepare to chicken like they’ve never chickened before when I touched down later that year, which was the best possible move to make and was certainly for sure going to happen. Absolutely. Of course.

1

Nonstop mental shitshow be damned.

Last spring, when I realized that life in Panama wasn’t quite working for me the second time around, getting to New York to “reeeally get my writing career going” became my North Star of sorts as things went to shit and the self care avoidance got out of hand.

And so it was decided:

I shall relocate to New York in September.

Why September? It felt far enough away for me to possibly maybe perhaps scrape it the fuck together enough to transition back stateside semi-gracefully, without having to swan dive into a snake-filled pit of anxiety and worry and attacks of the panic variety in the process. In New York, I could do more than write for the Internet from afar. I could have guacamole and Zimas with the people who edit and read and fund my work. I could teach and be stimulated, eat delicious french fries with homies old and new, and be on hand for random chicken-based outings. Living abroad, I missed 30th and 40th birthday bonanzas, broom jumpings, the births of many tiny humans and countless live ass parties. I looked on Facebook one day, and somehow, my nieces were women. When the fuck did that happen?

What was my first step in the homegoing process, you ask? Naturally, I swan-dove face first into that pit of snakes and worry and attacks of the panic variety, having duct-taped all of my writerly hopes and dreams to this arbitrarily set autumnal goal.

And I commenced beating myself down for not being able to remain above water long enough to make any progress – mentally, financially, emotionally or otherwise – towards that goal.

It was the best of times.

In 2013, when I moved back to Panama, my mother’s homeland, after five months in New Orleans, things never really came together, professionally or financially, as they had the first time around. Within days of my initial arrival back in 2011, I had a handful of clients for my private business English classes, thanks to some ads in La Prensa, aggressively distributed flyers and a robust word-of-mouth campaign. And that was when I wasn’t teaching my poppin’-ass hippity-hop/salsa/dancehall/aerobic cardiodance situation to groups of classy and exuberant-at-seven-in-the-morning ladies in a handful of gyms and studios around Panama City.

After a while, I hired a handful of American and Canadian teachers and formed Panamerican Languages, specializing in helping Spanish-speaking professionals feel comfortable living, working, and conducting business in English. Ya tú sabes. My squad and I taught Copa Airlines pilots, Spanish architects at Acciona, Chilean engineers working on the Panama Canal expansion, Citibank and Scotiabank and HSBC executives, bored housewives and even the CEO of one of Panama’s biggest phone companies. I choreographed, performed and taught workshops with a dance company and learning to instruct and direct in Spanish. I occasionally doubted my abilities throughout my Panamanian life of firsts, but since nearly dying from lupus a decade ago, I vowed to never let my fear trump my curiosity. Amid all the trial and error, I made some lifelong friends and helped a few dozen people on their journey to English fluency. And the food. Shit was lovely.

2

The second time around, nothing really stuck. My clientele didn’t blossom like before. I showed up to oft-regretted early-morning classes late, exhausted, or unsober. I struggled to balance freelance writing and dazzling verbally for a living with being a dynamic, planning, focused teacher. I stopped dancing. Teaching became a chore and a source of misery. I had lots of wonderful meals and sex, though. I gained weight. I just couldn’t make the magic happen again. After working way too hard and paying bills, I felt like I was starting from zero each month. The joy was missing the second time around. The passion had fizzled.

Thankfully, I picked up the phone one humid Panamanian July morning when shit got really real and confessed through sobs to my parents, after assuring them daily for months that I was cool: “I’m not OK. I need to leave Panama.” I left two weeks later.

The last year and change has been a fight to rekindle the fire and regain the fearlessness that propelled me to leave VCU at 17 to dance, choreograph and compete and win awards with the dance company I had created or to New York to dance at 21 or to Los Angeles at 25 or Panama at 27. I was in bad shape when I arrived in Virginia from Panama in August 2014. Last November, I couldn’t see past the end of the week.

Thanksgiving was the bottom. What should have been my time to shine, calorically, was my most emotionally ashy, the height of sleeping-is-easier-than-doingness.

When my Black ass family gathers to eat on holidays, birthdays and other Blackpeoplegatherings, a few things are guaranteed:

One: When we assembles for collective grubbing, we leave no cackles uncackled, catching up and fellowshipping through collective overindulgence. We mount up like a hungry ass AfroPanamanian Voltron and ceremoniously attack my grandmother’s legendary food: arroz con pollo, ribs, fresh bread, stew chicken, empanadas (that nice, gold-teeth-wearing Panamanian ladies regularly drive to Hampton from Maryland to acquire by the metric fucktonne), and whatever else she lays out. Sure, eating is a priority, but so, too, is the noise. So much joyful noise. And so much rice. My sister, aunt and cousin form their Loud Black Woman Trifecta and engage in an unspoken battle to out-loud and out-cackle one another. It’s magical.

 Two: I am the family glutton. Whereas most of us eat to live, I live to eat and officially have more pictures of past nacho conquests and chicken victories than of dicks and Janet Jackson in my phone. Finally. Thirty years in, and everyone now grasps that “Are you hungry, Alex?” is a stupid question. When I’m coming to visit, my mother has been known to make “some extra mac and cheese” in anticipation of my arrival. I’m the guy who’ll smash three plates of everything-and-then-some, plus some pie, then clean the kitchen and pass out, Itis-stricken and stupefied, only to awake an hour later, hungry and ready to do it all again. It’s not a game.

But this past Thanksgiving, surrounded my beautiful, loud, Blackety Black ass familia and more food than I could ever want or need, I was eating alone.

I barely finished one unimpressively piled plate and nibbled silently. I drove home immediately after eating – uninterested in Grandma’s pie for the first and last time in my life – as my family stayed behind, grubbing like a motherfucker, cackling Blackfully.

This was the fun part of adjusting to antidepressants that feels like log rolling through the mud. Nothing mattered. This time last year, leading up to Thanksgiving, I spent most of my days under the covers, powering through The Wire, mumbling through interactions with my family, masturbating and aggressively napping. The first few weeks of my courtship with Zoloft was made up of vicious jaw clenching, fidgeting and king-sized anxiety. Being tightly wound wasn’t new. It’s nearly impossible for me to relax, but during that first month, my anxiety hit puberty and spiked at the faintest whiff of impending strife or frustration. Occasionally, while driving, I’d have to pull off the road and just breathe. I spent weeks wrapped up in trying to determine how much of the fuckedupness and zombiehood was drug-related and how much was due to my personal wretchitude.

It fucking sucked. Not doing became easier.

And who’s going to hold the bed in place and wish spontaneous combustion upon Wee-Bey’s wife if not me?

A few weeks before Thanksgiving, my Nice White Lady and I came up with daily checklist of Daily Must Dos that I carved into a notecard placed conspicuously so I couldn’t ever forget to brush my teeth, wash my face, shower, leave the house during the daytime and speak to someone, anyone.

Some days, I didn’t make it through the list. Shit happens.

I had been warned of a period of intense suckiness while adjusting to Zoloft. But motherfuck, the flatness and the emotional ashiness and the apathy are soul crushing for a writer who loves to talk about feelings and needs to be able to write colorfully for a living. It was hell to write anything that I didn’t hate, scraping the bottom of my creative barrel, Madonnafully. But that didn’t stop me from chugging and struggling through a string of TV recaps and such for Gawker’s Morning After blog.

A friend told me months later that I appeared “kind of robotic and definitely not really there” when we hung out during the fall. All I wanted was to feel “normal,” and not as if I was standing at the center of a 462-car pileup, engulfed in flames, hungry, as the sound of an Ashanti a capella concert blares forever and ever from all 462 cars. The horror. When I got wrapped up in a wonderful Somebody, just like with my family, I found myself faking emotional connections, prethinking and reconsidering my words and forced smiles in the absence of a regular fucking range of human emotions. Movies that would normally have me laughing maniacally now fell flat. Sure, the lows mellowed out, but now there weren’t highs either, Ciaracareeringly.

The clouds began to recede before Christmas when I karate chopped my antidepressant dosage in half and could finally get up from the mud. Hello there, Creativity. Shit, Nigga, I forgot what you felt like. Welcome back, fool.

I’ve been stirring this question around in the crockpot for a while: How do I know if I’m still depressed? And how do I gauge where I am on the Fuckedupness Scale? How does normal look and feel? Is there a test? How much progress have I made towards Better Personhood?

One clear sign that I’m doing much better is that I’m functioning more. I still have shitty days. But I am leaving the house and blasting Janet in my headphones pumping down the sidewalk, Doing, as opposed to letting the day’s shittiness strap me to the couch with nachos and sweet tea.

3

Some days, it’s still hard to see the good in any of what I’m doing, but I am super damn glad to be here, alive and free to eat like hell and take risks and learn and leap and fuck up and flourish. This time last year. I. Was. At. The. Motherfucking. Bottom and I struggled each damn day to feel. Something. Anything. I wanted more than anything to feel like myself and not like a worthless shitbag, the Homeboys In Outer Space of humans.

As much as I bash lame ass Hampton and its passé easytogetrappedness, it was the best place in the world for me to be. Had I continued barreling through the fuckshit in Panama as if everything were lovely, I would have surely come home in a casket. Going back to Hampton, where I normally begin itching after the seventh day home, to sit the fuck down? Best decision ever. Being still and getting my mind right surrounded by family and Chick-Fil-A chicken biscuits was the best possible move. And I got to watch my nieces be goofy teenagers before they venture out into the world (and college).

That – putting Alex first – is what saved me. After spending the winter and spring extracting myself from the mud, getting my mind right in therapy and embracing all signs of emotional life, I needed más. From a journal entry dated May 12, days before my Colored Boy and Friends event:

I am dwindling here. Spending time with [Mister] has helped pull me up out of the mud, but aside from him, I have no stimulation here. Most of my friends are elsewhere. The ones here have busy lives of their own. Therapy is the highlight of my week. I have probably done about forty minutes of nonsexual exercise this year. Writing is draining. These days, it’s me and my computer in Panera, scraping words together, battling distraction and sweet tea, attempting to figure and freelance my way out of the Fuckedupness. And then me and the computer at library in the horrible chairs. Then, me and my computer at home, feet from my family, doing the same. Sprinting in circles. And my family’s cool, but they don’t challenge or excite me. Not that they have to entertain me, but I feel myself getting comfortable in Hampton’s familiar quicksand. My spirit is ashy and I feel unimpressive and dry here.

One day, during an exceptionally fruitful journaling moment in July, it hit me, like Madonna to The Gong of Irrelevance: Mi cyant take it no more. I have to get the fuck out of 1998.

And so, hours after my final therapy appointment, I leapt for my life and landed in New York this summer. This time: less planning, more uncertainties, more urgency. And more anxiety. My prior moves to New York, Los Angeles and Panama each followed about six months of strategizing and vivid dreaming. This time? I didn’t know what the fuck I was going to do, but New York struggle tops Virginia misery any day.

I officially touched down at the end of July with a few suitcases, a duffle bag, and a bookbag full of dreams, ready for whatever the city had in store. I go back and forth about the wisdom of the decision, but I axed my two antidepressants a few days after arriving. Initially, during a dearth of self care brought on by a small emotional valley, my daily dosages started slipping.

Soon, I stopped bothering altogether.

By then, I felt much better all around. Teleporting out of 1998 did wonders for moonwalking out of that valley. I was no longer log rolling through the mud, though I often battled to decipher how much of this progress, like last fall’s abject fuckedupness, was because of my own doing and daring and how much was drug-related. Wellbutrin had yet to make a difference, so the change was less impactful. After 10 months together, Zoloft, aided by my intensifying efforts at Living and my rediscovered ability to Do, served it’s purpose. Thankfully, I went into this chemical romance knowing that it would be a short-term one.

Ultimately, I wanted to try New York on my own, without that chemical aid. I felt strong enough to take off the life jacket. And, well, I haven’t back flipped into an oncoming D train, so I’d say I’m doing mighty motherfucking fantastic.

Shout-out to living and what-not.

4

Another way I know I’m doing much better is my increasingly positive look. Occasionally, I still feel like I’m walking around on fire, in search of momentary relief from the burn, but I have gotten better about not letting those moments of hysteria derail my days. I’m better at fighting off attacks of the panic variety. Even when shit sucks, I know that things will be okay. And I’m finally having more good days than bad ones. Fortunately, this horrific in-between phase I’m in (also known as “The Accounts Payable Waltz”) coincides with a convergence of goodness.

This summer, I taught a personal essay and memoir writing workshop at the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Educational and Memorial Center in Harlem. I hosted three literary showcases and no longer hate all of my creative output. Since landing in New York this summer, I’ve written a trio of pieces for Courvoisier.com and just completed my first print assignment for EBONY, which was on my writerly bucket list. I curated and hosted both the Summer Edition of Colored Boy and Friends at the Bondfire Radio Audio Festival and, as part of Hispanic Heritage Month, an event at the Schomburg Center for Research In Black Culture called Resisting Limitations: AfroLatin@s and Radical Identities. I just got back from Chicago, where I taught a workshop called “Literary Therapy: Writing (For) Your Life” to grad students and admins in Adler University’s clinical mental health graduate program. The next day, I taught a creative writing workshop for some awesome girls at South Shore High School as part of Polished Pebbles’ afterschool program. I ate as if my life depended on it and I got to dance and sing for my life in the front row at the Saint Damita Jo Show.

5

It feels good to feel again.

It feels wonderful to have stimulation again, to be challenged and inspired to act, and to be overwhelmed with options.

On this journey towards better personhood, I have learned that getting well-intentioned friends and loved ones to really understand what you’re going through can be draining. Unfurling and articulating every nuance of your journey for people who’ll tell you to put some Jesus on it or just “get over it” can be a magnificent waste of energy. Rather than fighting for everyone to get you, your precious energy is much better spent with those who simply support you. I’d prefer that my people loved on me how I need them to and ate with me and gave me a shoulder or a tight hug or some space than to have them be acquainted with every nook and cranny of my woes.

Go-go-gadget: Self-preservation.

The journey to now, despite the question marks and anxiety, has been muy gratifying and powerfully transformative. I’m so grateful for the lessons, even the hard-earned ones.

Most of my interactions in New York have been fruitful, affirming, calming, inspiring and right on time. I have cackled and eaten and reminisced and danced and eaten and rapped and plotted greatness and eaten with so many awesome folks who lifted my spirit, filled my belly, made me laugh until it hurt or hugged me when I needed it, even when they didn’t know I needed such uplifting.

Shit ain’t all sunshine, sweet tea and cheese grits, but I’m grateful to be alive for the adventure. It feels dope as fuck to feel worthy and capable of the beautiful shit that’s happening in my life right now.

What a difference a year makes.

Alex Hardy

Alexander Hardy is the dance captain for Saint Damita Jo Jackson's Royal Army. He is a writer who escaped Hampton, Virginia and is now based in Panama City, Panama. There, he runs The Colored Boy, and consumes copious amounts of chicken. He has written for EBONY.com, CNN, Gawker, and Huffington Post among other outlets. Alexander can likely be found daydreaming about his next meal or Blacking It Up on someone's dance floor. He also doesn't believe in snow or Delaware. Read more from Alex at www.thecoloredboy.com

  • Hang in there, Alex!

  • Pinks

    Kudos to you for continuing to believe in yourself enough to give it one more try. I’ve never experienced clinical depression, but I do know that what I felt wasn’t reflective of the me I’ve always known.

    One of the hardest things is keeping up appearances when you’ve made a big leap, especially being someone who’s used to succeeding at stuff, because even worse than the prospect of being looked at as a failure by those around you is feeling like a failure inside. And then, sometimes, you realize that you’re stronger for just having gotten to the other side, battered and bruised as you may be. It takes so much to be able to say “You know what? I’m not OK. And it’s not OK that I’m not OK.” – so many of us would be in better places if we let ourselves be gentle with ourselves..and I’m about to go on for far too long and get deeper into these feelings, so eff it.

    Eat some chiggen and be merry, nucca. You deserve it.

    • sank ya! Oh, there is MUCH chicken and merriment happening. That post-leap hysteria is so damn real. Whew.

    • mahoganylawlady

      Man that second paragraph was so me this time last year. This time last year I was stressed out and depressed over a failing dream. I wanted to fight to keep it going mostly out of pride even though its failing was causing all sorts of ruckus in my life. I felt like such a failure because it was something others praised and it took me a long time to actually tell most people. However now that I have been able to put it to rest I am well on the way to restoring what that struggle took and more.

      Keep pressing forward even if you don’t always know where the road will lead you. Everyday you wake up is another day to move forward.

      • Pinks

        Since having children, I’ve had to get over my own insecurities about not living up to my potential and blaming it on them. However, people have given me so much support and encouragement on other fronts that it’s made me feel like I need to suck it up and be grateful for what goes right instead of sad about what goes wrong. Daily struggle!

  • cancergirl08

    This is beautiful. Wishing you all the love, laughter, peace and food your body and soul can stand :)

  • RewindingtonMaximus

    *daps*

    Depression easily murders any good notion your life can provide. We always find a way to talk our way out of being happy in that moment because the depression makes you feel at all times that it is ok to be miserable. That there is something wrong with being happy. I have not gone to my therapist in a month. At times I am ok. Other times I am falling apart. Changing my entire life by ending a relationship probably has more impact on me than I’m allowing myself to feel. I say I know who I am, but that’s probably the worst lie I can tell.

    Thank you Alex. I feel like I can connect with you on a personal level. It’s clearly not easy to just tell the entire world your business and how easily vulnerable this makes you feel. But you’ve done it with grace and I sincerely respect that.

    As a life time New Yorker, I’d like to ask you a question. How do you do what you do? I’ve been here most of my life and I still have no idea how to take advantage of this city, let alone my own abilities. If nothing else, you’ve got a comrade in arms when it comes to beating the breaks off this sassy-a$$ depression…dunno who this b i t c h thinks she is but she aint winning.

    • Lea Thrace

      “Depression easily murders any good notion your life can provide. We always find a way to talk our way out of being happy in that moment because the depression makes you feel at all times that it is ok to be miserable. That there is something wrong with being happy.”

      I know exactly what you mean by this. And I hate that I know it.

      I want to participate in a hug sandwich with you and Alex.

      • PhlyyPhree

        “Depression easily murders any good notion your life can provide. We always find a way to talk our way out of being happy in that moment because the depression makes you feel at all times that it is ok to be miserable. That there is something wrong with being happy.”

        For the longest, I didn’t realize that I was doing this. It took A LOT of therapy and pointed intervention from my friends. I still do it, but now I recognize what I’m doing and TRY to stop it.

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          And you will, as long as you remain active. Look how honest you are with a bunch of internet strangers. Surely you’re doing right by yourself.

          • PhlyyPhree

            Nah. Wish I could say I was, but I’m not and I know I’m not. I’m trying and that’s about all I’ve got.

            I’m honest here a) because only TWO of you know me in real life thus far and b) its easier to be honest with ANYONE else, internet or real life, than it is to be honest with myself.

            • RewindingtonMaximus

              Well

              1) I’m #3. So quit playing with my life and e-mail me at some point, defineintellect@gmail.com
              2) I’m agreeing with you. It is very hard for me to be honest with my loved ones, but with VSB, I just spew off verbal diarrhea like its nobody’s business about MY BUSINESS.

              You’re trying but you’re a lot more cooler just because of that. I just want you to focus on that part if nothing else.

            • Lola

              that hits the mark like a muhfugga.
              i hate that i can understand exactly what you mean, and hate that you’re dealing with it on your end.

        • Lea Thrace

          I know Im doing it. But only after the fact. After my joy has been stolen. Despite my successes in life, I am unable to have joy. Because I find away to remove my effort from the success/joy. I attribute it to everything under the sun except for me. I realized a few months ago that I ve been doing it since I was a kid. But its so far gone I dont know how to stop it. And it’s killing me. So slowly.

          • miss t-lee

            Doing that since you were a kid?
            Mayne, listen..

          • PhlyyPhree

            I wish I could tell you how to stop. I don’t.
            I feel like we have similarities (I’ve been doing this since childhood also) which is good and bad.
            So ya know, I’m here for you if you need me.

          • cakes_and_pies

            Sounds like impostor syndrome. I’ve been doing it my whole life too. It’s hard. You have that glimpse of joy, but then that cloud of doubt looms right behind it.

            • Echo

              I started writing a paragraph on how my depression makes me feel like I could make everyone else’s life better just by ending it all now. I have had the most tumultuous year than I ever expected. Then I read this and other comments and it makes me know that I am not alone. I know that I have people who feel what I feel it isn’t unusual. I’m not crazy and there is hope.

              • cakes_and_pies

                {{{hugs}}} I have been there a few times. Whenever a celebrity commits suicide, sometimes all I can think of is “They did it so they’re no longer a burden and they’re at peace now.”
                Digging yourself out the mental hole when the dirt is coming in faster than you can dig out is hard. But, like you said, you’re certainly not alone.

          • whew. this is me.

            • Echo

              Thank you for writing this. For a long time I thought something was wrong with me because of how I feel most of the time. I think I will go seek professional help now. You sir are a gift.

          • MALynn

            Yup! And minimizing your wins, because you think they happened by pure dumb a$$ luck and not because you worked for it and deserved it. Never acknowledging the good stuff because it might mean that it’ll go away once you accord any importance to it…listen…

            • RewindingtonMaximus

              Because the good is temporary. As soon as it comes, you know it will go away way quicker than it too for it to happen.

            • Echo

              “Never acknowledging the good stuff because it might mean that it’ll go away once you accord any importance to it”— This is my life. This. Is. My. Whole. Entire. Life.

          • LMNOP

            People who are prone to depression are more likely to attribute the good things that happen in their lives to external forces and the bad things to their own personal failings, there is a psychological term for it, but I don’t remember what it is.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            That’s where I am. I can’t enjoy my success because I instantly trip over it waiting for something bad to happen.

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        I’m super down with that sandwich.

        There are days I wake up, knowing how far I’ve come in life, what I have survived, knowing what stories I have to share…and I still feel insignificant, worthless, pointless, and dismissed. I’m sure one day I will come to terms with these feelings but just knowing when I do have a good moment, how quick I am to ruin it if I’m not careful…that’s what kills me.

        • I’m always down with sammiches.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            She done forgot we some eating food a$$ n i g g a s

        • Guest

          You gotta just toughin up sometimes, it’s just life, we all have ups and downs. Just be strong and focus on being the best you, you can be.

          • QuirlyGirly

            This is not the answer for people who have depression. You may not have meant it in such a flippant way but the point is, some people just can’t toughin up. They may need a therapist or meds or whatever.

            • PhlyyPhree

              Thank you for replying before I could because you answered from a place I couldn’t.

              • QuirlyGirly

                My sister has manic depression. She lived with me for a year and it was difficult. She couldn’t just tough it out or toughin up. She didn’t want to be that way but she couldn’t help it.

                So while, I get that we all have periods of time were we may have the blues. Depression is not just the blues.

                No lie I almost dusting off a former friend who said something similar about my sister. Depression is tough and I here to support anyone who is going through that.

                • PhlyyPhree

                  I have a friend who committed suicide and one of the underlying issues is that she couldn’t handle her depression and she tried. We watched her struggle for YEARS and try everything from dance and creative therapy, to traditional therapy to medication and it hurt. She tried so very hard to just toughen up and be better and….she just couldnt.

                  • “Just get over it” is one of the most dangerous things you can say to a person dealing with mental illness. They’re “resolution” may not look the way you intended.

                  • RewindingtonMaximus

                    I always think about why that gun didn’t go off on the day I tried to end myself. Clip was full, nothing jammed in the chamber…and yet here I am, 17 years later. Still not sure why some days. That’s why I hate when people say suicide is for cowards.

                    Can’t tell me how my pain is supposed to make me feel.

                    • Kim

                      Glad your still here, keep fighting.

                    • RewindingtonMaximus

                      Appreciate it love.

                    • PhlyyPhree

                      So glad it didn’t. We don’t know the reason, but there is a reason you’re still here.

                      I’m going to email you soon too.

                    • RewindingtonMaximus

                      Thanks love.

                    • Pinks

                      Divine providence, yo.

              • RewindingtonMaximus

                There’s no reason to see the Guest’s point as negative. It’s just vanilla advice, the same kind of s h i t everyone says. It still is helpful, just not what I need.

                • PhlyyPhree

                  I just don’t like Guest.
                  It may have been a sincere piece of advice, but we disagree on EVUHRYTHING. I feel like that person is intentionally antagonistic about every opinion anyone has, on any topic. My sensitivity to the topic wouldn’t allow me to be objective about that comment. Tis all

                  • RewindingtonMaximus

                    I get it love, I get it.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            Appreciate it. I just keep the facts in mind, as best I can, that’s what keeps me going.

          • Asiyah

            I’m sure you came from a good place but we are extremely resilient and tough because we are still here to face our depression. So the issue isn’t that we’re not tough enough.

    • Wild Cougar

      Don’t let her win. She tryna take you out cuz you’re important.

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        Thank you love. That is a nice way to look at it, never thought of it in that fashion.

        • Wild Cougar

          Demons don’t attack people who aren’t destined to improve the world and rack up wins for the good side. Depression is a demon talking in your ear. They don’t bother with unimportant people cuz they will stop themselves from being any use to anyone without any outside help

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            I’m printing your quote and putting it on my desk. I need a daily reminder of this.

            For real WC, thank you. I needed to see it explained like this.

            • Wild Cougar

              You’re welcome sweetness. Real talk. For real, for real. I believe in demons, I’ve laid eyes on them. They got big ones the size of whole towns and little one the size of mice. Its the medium sized ones assigned to depress people and keep them from doing good stuff. I had a few in my house that stayed over from the old lady who used to live there. They think it’s their place, but it ain’t. Know what chased them off and won’t let them come back in? I got those Bible Experience CDs, you know the ones that they read like a play with Black voices. I play those on my computer non stop with the volume low. I swear on my Granny’s grave, depression disappeared while those things are playing. No lie. You don’t even have to believe in the bible. I don’t go to church and haven’t cracked a bible in ages. Play the bible low volume non-stop, see what happens.

              • PhlyyPhree

                This does not sound crazy to me. I was telling my friend the other day that I survived a vampire before. The soul sucking and life draining and the severe selfishness and lack of regard for ANYONE other than himself….Vamp. My friend laughed at me when I made that statement initially, but after she thought about it, she agreed.
                I believe in demons and things that can’t be seen because We can’t possibly know or put a name to EVERYTHING that exists. I think that the words change because of language and regional variations, but to some extent we are all fighting against similar things.

                • RewindingtonMaximus

                  Ooooooooh social vampires are THE WORST…sucking your whole existence away. Everything they say, everything they do…has to be soooo depressing, so negative.

              • RewindingtonMaximus

                I’ll give it a shot. I know my apartment is haunted. I’ve been attacked by something in my apartment already so its not beyond me to come to terms with the fact that I need to do something other than get the place blessed (already did, whatever it was went away for a while but came back). I’ll give the audio Bible a shot since I’m always having something playing in the background.

                Thank you love, you really did make my day today.

          • This is too real.

          • Asiyah

            The whispers of Shaytan are real.

    • miss t-lee

      Don’t let that wanch win sh*t, mayne. Gotta speed bump that wh*re with your car, back up and hit it again.

    • Pinks

      The way to take advantage of NY is to keep an open mind and a somewhat open wallet. There’s a lot of free ish to do, but you have to travel to some obscure corners to find it lol

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        Yea I’m realizing that. Since I’m on my own now, I think I’m taking the liberty to just try s h i t way more seriously.I just never know where to start half the time.

        • Pinks

          It can get overwhelming, especially considering a lot of low-key turnup events happen during the work week when old people like myself have no intention of doing anything but sitting on the couch playing with our genitals.

          Do you like open mics? I find those are usually chill places without too much ra ra going on. Hubby and I just went to one a couple of weeks ago that was pretty entertaining.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            Never been to one, but I’m always down to try.

            You’re right, it is just overwhelming with the options. Its like Netflix, all those damn movies and you spend 30 minutes just trying to find something you like.

            • Pinks

              And then you give up and go play with yourself. Or maybe that’s just me.

              TimeOutNy.com and idontdoclubs.com both have options for stuff to do, and the latter site is more catered toward the young black professional.

              Is it creepy to suggest folks schedule a NYC meetup at some point? Who else is in the concrete jungle and isn’t a serial killer?

              • I’m way down for a meeting of awesome negrofolk to perhaps indulge in chicken and dranks.

                • QuirlyGirly

                  Man!! you better stop it. I am always down for chicken pieces and dranks.

                • Pinks

                  Chicken and dranks is what Jesus really wanted to feed that crowd that day instead of the fishes and loaves.

                  • QuirlyGirly

                    LOL! Girl you are too much

              • QuirlyGirly

                Thanks for the suggestions. I was looking for somethings to do around NYC.

              • PhlyyPhree

                “Who else is in the concrete jungle and isn’t a serial killer”
                LMAoooooooo

                You know they’re ALL serial killers right?
                j/k

                Although you’ll all be meeting in a group so as long as you make sure no one needs to “help you home”, you should be good, no?

                • Pinks

                  Yo, NYC has sooooooooo many scary people. I can’t walk down a street in Manhattan without either clutching my pearls or lmao’ing. I’ll be good because I’m a thug and a paranoid one at that so I’m always “prepared”.

                  • RewindingtonMaximus

                    That’s why NYers are priceless. We have an adept sense of schizophrenia that can only be matched by war veterans.

              • RewindingtonMaximus

                I’ve been the resident VSB member that has set up meet-ups for the past 3 years, but people done faded away or got busy. So I’m always up for another shot whenever people are ready.

                Funny thing, the wife would always bring TImeOUt magazines home, and I’ve used idontdoclubs before. I need be more adept to just going out instead of over thinking. We can find something for December and have a meet up then.

                Also, the pervert in me REALLY wanted to make a joke about that first line, but I’m finna play nice.

                • Pinks

                  December sounds great – and the first line is a joke in itself lol

                  I can take what’s dished. I think.

                  • RewindingtonMaximus

                    Nah you can handle it, although I’ve been playing softball all this time.

                    December it is!

                    • Pinks

                      Glad you recognize the thug emanating from my skin.

                      Lemme see what we can cook up.

                    • RewindingtonMaximus

                      Buahaha aight P, I’ma let your inner thug live.

                • Cleojonz

                  Yay I’m so coming down if you do one! Don’t make it the weekend of the 12th or I can’t go.

                  • RewindingtonMaximus

                    Awesome. I’ll try to pick a date that can work for everyone hopefully

                • You know if I’m ever back up in NYC (now that it’s not so so so so far away from me), you will see my mug. :)

              • I’d bus in for this.

                • RewindingtonMaximus

                  You better. For Bonchon.

                  • You said yourself Philly Bonchon is better tho… Oh, everyone should just come here? Is that what I’m hearing??

                    “Yes! We love Philly!” – enthusiastic VSB members

                    Excellent.

                    • RewindingtonMaximus

                      Why do I even like you the way I like you?

                      http://stream1.gifsoup.com/view7/20140220/4984163/eye-roll-o.gif

                    • lol Wasn’t me. The streets have spoken!

                    • RewindingtonMaximus

                      lmao you dead wrong

                    • PhlyyPhree

                      You know if you’re going to bus in for Bon Chon, the BEST one is in Maryland…jusssttt saying

                    • Pinks

                      I lived in North Philly for 4 years and HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATED IT. Now when I go back I’m so nostalgic and feeling fuzzy inside it isn’t even funny.

                    • I’m the same way. I moved 10 minutes away from North Philly and it’s like I changed time zones. But when I go back, I get a teeny bit nostalgic for some things.

                    • Pinks

                      I do wish I would’ve explored the city more while I was there, but I had no car and that dang two-train system was annoying as heck to someone used to the NYC subway system. Maybe at some point later in life I’ll give Philly another try.

                    • You should always give Philly a chance. I’m here. I’m fun. We’re the city that loves you back… or something similar.

                    • Pinks

                      Philthadelphia will always have a place in my heart. I was back for Made in America and my alma mater playing Penn State in September. I like knowing I have a place to visit whenever I need to escape NYC.

                  • Pinks

                    IS Bonchon the Korean fried chicken place? I ate there when pregnant and threw up my whole life.

                    • RewindingtonMaximus

                      It is. Sawyer took to me the one in Philly. It was great.

                      But clearly we can’t take you there. I’m not letting you get PTSD off fried chicken.

                    • Pinks

                      I think it was just too much grease for my little guy at the time, but I remember it being the bomb as we were eating it.

                      Philly has some dope eateries like Banana Leaf downtown, a Malaysian spot. Whooooooo my tastebuds dancing thinking about it.

                    • RewindingtonMaximus

                      Let Sawyer be your guide. She’s quite handy.

                • Pinks

                  I’m going to see if I can get my life right and possibly put something together.

            • Nappy Mind

              I sometimes can’t decide and wind up not watching anything.

        • LMNOP

          I don’t live in NY, but one year I made a New Years resolution to have more fun, and it helped me get out and try more things.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            At the mercy of my paycheck, I’m just gonna throw myself out there and see what happens. Hopefully someday you will be out here for that though

        • Asiyah

          on your own? what happened? I hope you’re ok, J xoxo

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            Long story but me and the misses have parted ways for now.

            • Asiyah

              I’m sorry to hear that, J.

              • RewindingtonMaximus

                It’s ok. I was turning into the kind of man I never wanted to be, and as many problems as we have, I’ll never do that to her. She deserves far better than that.

            • Val

              Oh, Rewind, I’m so sorry to hear that.

              *eHUG*

              • RewindingtonMaximus

                Thanks Val. Appreciate it.

            • Pinks

              Aww pooka I missed that.

              *gives weird e-church hug with arched back and angled head*

              • PhlyyPhree

                This is serious….but that e-church hug….BWAHAHAHA

                • Pinks

                  you know that hug when you trying to get out of service as soon as possible without old lady perfume rubbing off on you

              • RewindingtonMaximus

                lmao you gonna hurt yourself with all that contorting.

                • Pinks

                  Maaaaaan the body contortions I used to have to do when leaving church with my godfather back in the day! Like whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy do all these old fuzzy faced women want to rub their whiskers on my cheeks? And then want to give you them bum a s s nasty a s s stale strawberry candies from the bottom of their purse like some kind of reward. Don’t nobody want them shizz, Ms. Eloise!!!!!

                  • Lea Thrace

                    Hey now. Hey NOW!

                    I LIVE for those strawberry candies. LIVE I say. Those things are awesome!

                    • Pinks

                      NOAP. They are the devil’s vittles and I won’t be swayed.

                  • RewindingtonMaximus

                    lmao you didn’t like them dirty bottom of the purse candies? All those hugs gave your back skills, that’s why your husband is proud of you!

                    • Pinks

                      I’d rather have cocklint in my mouth than them nasty things.

                    • RewindingtonMaximus

                      ahaahahaha you’ve been sullied by strawberry candy

                    • Pinks

                      i’mma use that

    • No matter how alone it makes you feel you aren’t dude.

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        I keep trying to remember that. I just have this real big issue of not wanting to bother people with my problems even though I’m always available for anyone with their own.

        • I’ve been there.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            I’ll get it together soon. I have more reason to now than ever.

        • MALynn

          I feel like this is all of us black folks no? Like we pride ourselves on our altruism and by the fact that we dont need no one because we are not weak-a$$ b!tches.

          • Bingo. Yeah, that hyper-resiliency has worked out really awesomely for Us.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            Is that what it is? Blackness to me always seemed to be about squading up and fighting in numbers. I really don’t know many people who play the lone wolf the way I do, and that’s what always used to irk me growing up. That everyone else was in a group but I was always on the outside.

            • MALynn

              Squading up to fight communal causes that benefit others and the whole…while keeping “our bizness” private. We are known for this mess.

              • RewindingtonMaximus

                Ok I can take that explaination. I dunno. I’ve been fighting my battles solo for so long that I can’t even think of it in any other manner. But clearly today is proving we’ve all been doing the same thing.

        • mahoganylawlady

          I have that same sense and I am here to tell you finding one or two people you can tell your issues to is so freeing. You gain a different perspective and you feel safe enough to work though the issues. These people may or may not be your closest friends but the relationships are extremely important.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            It is a work in progress for me. I really don’t know how to deal with my trust issues. They really are ingrained in me. I don’t have a problem talking about my problems to people, I just don’t trust what they have to say in return, mostly because they give vanilla advice and I clearly need something more potent.

            • mahoganylawlady

              Not everyone in your life will be equipped to listen or help you deal. Sometimes the best thing they can do is point you to a professional. Someone who will listen without any background knowledge. The issue is trusting that you are worth fighting for so don’t be offended if that is the ultimate word. We will fight for everyone and everything but ourselves sometimes.

              • RewindingtonMaximus

                That is a better out look. I’ll keep in mind. Its a daily struggle but i just need to keep these kind of thoughts in mind.

            • LMNOP

              I have the same thing where I don’t really trust anyone, and it bothers me, but also trusting people can put you in a really vulnerable situation and it seems normal to want to protect yourself.

              • RewindingtonMaximus

                I’m aware enough to know repeating the same actions and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. I just don’t know how to be anymore vulnerable than I already am. That’s why I think I am so I indifferent to people.

                Just feels easier to trust people only to a certain point, because you know they will disappoint you regardless

        • MsSula

          I have a friend that I love but I am unfortunately getting distant from… She can be so concerned about not bothering others with her problems, that it is often miscontrued as a lack of trust… Which it is in some ways. It’s because we don’t trust our friends, family, people to care as deeply about our stuff that we withhold the information under the guise of “not bothering”. To foster real human relationships, trust is a non negotiable, so is the willingness to open up. And there are few things more healing than real human bonds and friendships.

          Give it a try.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            I’m going to try. You’re right. I really don’t trust people. I have a hard time connecting on that level. It’s easier for me to be the strong responsible one, and I guess I don’t know how to break away from that process.

            • Asiyah

              Same.

          • Val

            “And there are few things more healing than real human bonds and friendships.”

            I just wanted to repeat that, because truth.

          • LMNOP

            Wow, this is exactly how I am, but I never even really realized it until right now.

          • Guest

            For some – myself included – the risk of a close friend or loved one saying that in fact you are too needy, and your problems are too much or too burdensome is so unbearably painful…it doesn’t feel worth the testing the waters or taking that leap of faith. Cause while being self reliant isn’t really working out…it’s stable and predictable. But other people are unpredictable and the blow of someone telling me “i’m too much” would be Devastating… Week!

            • MsSula

              I can definitely understand that… but I am usually a proponent of “Try it out” for size and see if it improves your life.

          • JanuaryBabe

            Amen!!!! I have a “friend” that withholds information or pretend she doesn’t now….instead of just telling the truth! For example, she had aggressive breast cancer and we talked about it in detail and after the surgery I asked her if they remove her breast and she said she did not know…..an hour later I am at her house….she has had a DOUBLE MASECTOMY! I just can’t!

        • Charles Johnson

          THIS… you just encapsulated the story of my life

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            Wow so this is more common placed than I thought. Glad to get another for the team.

        • RagesAgainstMachines

          I am this.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            Score. This group is getting bigger.

      • Asiyah

        I feel alone all the time. I know that’s not the case but that’s how I always feel.

    • Asiyah

      “How do you do what you do? I’ve been here most of my life and I still
      have no idea how to take advantage of this city, let alone my own
      abilities.”

      Same here. I’ve been wanting to move for 9 years now, even if it’s just a temporary move, because I don’t know how to make my abilities work for me here. Something always holds me back (mostly a family situation or money).

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        Bruh…my money can’t get me away from my family fast enough.

      • Val

        I totally get what you’re saying becasue I feel the same way. But, be vary careful not to blame a lot of things on geography. Like they say, wherever you go there you are. I learned that one the hard way and ended-up in a city that I hate. Sigh. You have to work on healing yourself, then anywhere you are becomes full of opportunities and promise.

        • Asiyah

          Definitely! I feel leaving NYC for a bit would be a good thing but I don’t think that’s going to be THE solution to my problems. It’ll just be a nice change!

          • Pinks

            This city will chew you up and spit you out. A change of location wont’ be everything, but it will be something. Good luck to-ya!

    • “Changing my entire life by ending a relationship probably has more impact on me than I’m allowing myself to feel. I say I know who I am, but that’s probably the worst lie I can tell.”

      I. can. soooo. relate to this right here. I hope you don’t beat yourself up for feeling the way you do right now. My ex & I parted ways last year around this time & I felt like I lost my footing in life, I was still tryna act like my normal silly self, but I was not the same- I started gaining weight , I didn’t want to hang out w/ friends, was calling out sick all the time & I started eating pixie stix like it was crack (I know, it’s a weird comfort food but that was my journey lol) – I started seeing a counselor in Jan & have been consistently working through it & I hope I can offer hope in that it does get better- I was working out this morning & I caught myself smiling for no reason & I was like- wow, I really feel happy?? this is crazy!? I never had a break up rock my sense of self like the last one did, but I let go of that relationship & now I’m pursuing my passions & so many beautiful things have come out of me hitting rock bottom- so like I said, I hope I can offer some hope in that it does get better. (Sorry for being long winded! I just felt like sharing)

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        Honestly, thank you for this. I feel like the whole thing is my fault. This is Isa break down of many things over the year, but I feel bad because she needed to believe in our relationship because it was the only thing that worked best in her life. Everything else was always disappointing her. I wanted to see her shine, so much that I sacrificed myself to make her comfortable. But over the last year, I just found myself real angry at her. I was angry because I blamed her for not feeling like myself, for not accepting me as myself in my times of need. I never fought when I should have fought and then years later, all I can do is see red, when all she’s trying to do is give her all to me. That’s why I feel like s h I t.

        So now all I do is work, try to have fun and then spend an enormous amount of time feeling guilty. I’ll try what you’re saying. I’m just not sure where all of this will take me.

        I’m glad you found inspiration through it all. I worry your reaction is the same one she’s having right now

        • I think it’s amazing that you perceived that she was holding on based upon the lack she may’ve been feeling in her own life. I’ve been where she’s been. I know because my ex did so much for me to “see me shine” & support me when I went back to school & he became frustrated when I wasn’t growing at the rate he expected me to. I had to learn that I wasn’t his responsibility. I had to grow into my own as a woman & not rely on him for my success, my failures or even my happiness. I completely understand why you’re feeling resentment (now that I’m on the other side) & you shouldn’t feel guilty for living your life authentically. In my immaturity last year I couldn’t see the wisdom in the different things my ex told me, but now I appreciate him for being authentic–now I see that he really loved me. Maybe if you see what you’re doing as showing real love, (because staying in a relationship with somebody who you resent in order to appease them out of guilt ain’t love) & me trying to hold onto my ex to distract myself from having to get out there & chase my own dreams & grow as a woman<—–that wasn't love either—it was the definition of using somebody & staying in that situation would've made both of us miserable. Your letting go & allowing her to find her own happiness without her using the relationship as a distraction to fill her voids <—-that's showing real love. Please don't feel guilty for that. I hope I understood what you were saying w/ out going too far left & I hope that made some sense. I'm working late tonight & I'm sleepy & kinda rambling lol.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            You’re not rambling my dear. Trust me, this is the kind of stuff I’ve been waiting to see. I’m no walk in the parl, I definitely fucked up on many issues, was emotional cold when when I was fed up, and lacked self esteem. I just naturally thought I was going to live this long. So I gave her everything I had, but watched my own abilities to cope with stress and find happiness slip through my fingers. It kept feeling like her life was never going to let he be great even though I knee she had the tools. I had to help push her for those big leaps, like your ex did, and find got mad when she wasn’t doing her best. It felt like everything was repeating itself….it just couldn’t go any further. She blames herself and do it don’t want that either. I think that’s why it feel so guilty. If it had been real an out it, it would have left a long time ago, not kept my head down and do hoped for the best.

            • I completely understand where you’re coming from & it’s beyond refreshing to hear your perspective on this.

              • RewindingtonMaximus

                Thank you my sweet. You really helped me out on this one. It took some weight off my shoulders to get that perspective. It’s rare people want to be that open about dealing with their mistakes in life like that.

                • I’m sooo happy to hear that me opening up & sharing about my pixie stick addiction was not in vain! lol- No but really, like I told you- I’m always here if you ever need a different perspective on things- I’m good for that :-)

                  • RewindingtonMaximus

                    Trust me love, I do appreciate it. I’ll be murdering your e-mails soon anyway. But real talk, you really helped me out, you have no idea how grateful I am for it.

  • Lola

    ‘I live to eat and officially have more
    pictures of past nacho conquests and chicken victories than of dicks and
    Janet Jackson in my phone.’ this is so wonderfully guffaw worthy and accurate and amazing!!
    i’m loving you for sharing all this, and simultaneously so protective of you sharing yourself so much with folks who won’t care for the preciousness that it is… you’re brave, good sir

  • I’m really happy for you. This showcases the importance of having a support system when combating depression.

  • PhlyyPhree

    I am thankful that you shared your story. It helped me. A lot.
    I am also thankful that you made it out of Panama City on time and alive. I’m glad that you are feeling better and being better and doing better. It’s rough and I’m proud of you.

  • YeaSoh

    Dude this was such an amazing piece!! Thank God your creativity came back to you and you came back to yourself. Sharing experiences like this is just so important. So many of us are dealing with it ourselves or love someone that’s going through a difficult time and we don’t know what to say. I think people they need to hear about someone’s journey out the mud to help them find their own way, you know? So, thank you for this and God bless you, Alex! My heart is with you my AfroLatino Brother!!

  • Your candor is something to behold. I’m glad you’re coming through the ups and downs with healthy doses of optimism and realism.

  • Wild Cougar

    You’re such a beautiful soul. I’m happy you found your way. I identify with your journey. I did a lot of that stuff myself and found things kind of in the same way. I’m also glad you have supportive family. They are out there despite the loud and wrong crowds that like to say Black people don’t support family members struggling with mental illness. We do. We really do.

    • gracias. My family made the difference. We absolutely do support our loved ones with mental health issues. It’s an awful and dangerous generalization.

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