I’m not even gunna bullshit y’all. I’ve been dealing with depression for the past two months and I’ve recently been coming out of it.
I had an epiphany this past week during my visit back home to New York. I always knew that although I’m eloquent and can hold interesting conversations, I can’t seem to express my emotions. Especially not in my time of need or darkest hour. Instead I just disappear. I put on a face, I post funny shit online and that’s that. Everything is fine.
But I’ve had to face a series of uncomfortable truths about myself in these past weeks. I had to battle the pressure of my need to be perfect. Like it’s literally the definition of my name. Natsai means “towards perfection” I shit you not.
As a writer I have this urge to produce my best work FIRST not really respecting the creative process. It’s all about rewriting and failing over and over again. And although that’s something I technically knew, there’s still a dread I experience at the notion of creating something, presenting it to people, and having it be rejected. Instead of facing that risk, it’s easier to get distracted by the obstacles of life. So I put my ideas on pause and my goals on hold.
But if you keep your dreams on hold long enough it begins to feel like a bottle of soda just shaking shaking shaking inside of you until it finally bursts! This plus wanting to create but not having the focus & drive too is the worst part of this ordeal and I didn’t know how to express that. I didn’t want too because people normally write this off as laziness.
I have this thing of not wanting to bother people too, because they really can’t be there for me 24/7. And if I’m feeling lost it’s a difficult hole to pull myself out of. If I can’t do it then how can they? They would have to empathize, but I didn’t want someone I care about to possibly become sad because they’re unable to help me and now feel guilty/concerned. So now I gotta be depressed and have to feel your helpless pity. Jesus be a spaceship.
I went home to take care of my mother and took her to her doctor’s appointment. Out of curiosity I wanted to see how much weight I lost since leaving home. I get on the scale and it reads that I am currently one hundred and two pounds. I have not been 102 pounds since early high school okay?
When I moved to Los Angeles eight months ago I was in my late 130’s. I’ve lost nearly forty pounds and I want half that back fam. I didn’t eat all them fourth meal chicken tenders and fries back in college only to turn around and not have an ass worth twerkin wit. Miss me with this bullshit.
I was covering up the fact that I’ve been faint and having dizzy spells for some time but I just attributed it to stress. I didn’t know it was because of the significant weight loss. So we ran a blood test and discovered that I was also dangerously anemic to top it all off.
I was so stagnant all week up until that appointment. I did the same ole thing – my mom and sister wanting to hang out with me but I just wanted to sleep in my room all day. Plus I had a writing assignment due but I had no clue on how to start it. The guilt of procrastinating consumed me.
After the appointment my mother forced me on a backyard stroll where she genuinely expressed that I couldn’t keep living in my head. I had to let somebody in. I had to talk to someone even if it wasn’t her, and she was right. I felt an epiphany. I really only like to come back to people when I’m back in a good mood. But sometimes by that point people, projects and opportunities move on.
I’m naturally uncomfortable with expressing my moods, but I have to trust that if I make the effort people may be able to help. I’m surrounded by a community of not just loved ones but some really great writers. That’s what dawned on me.
I was stumped on how to initiate this concept and isolated myself in this state of irrational confusion. I procrastinated and as time moved on the dread built up until the assignment’s deadline passed. Instead of reaching out to my teacher in time, I dug myself into a deeper hole. Now this weight of guilt pushed me further into my depressive episode. When I’m trying to write on my own I can’t help but think…
“This is the worst fucking thing I’ve ever created in my life.”
“Why did I ever think that I could be a writer? The fuck was I thinking?”
“Why did I come out here? Why did I uproot my life to chase this dream?”
“Why am I living like a broke bitch? I was very comfortable at home. I had a front, back AND side yard.”
But then I get an email from one of my classmates who read my developing concept and he gave me the boost of encouragement that I so desperately needed. He didn’t just say that he loved my idea – he told me why he loved it and why it was needed and asked questions wanting to know more about the story world.
I really do have access to amazing writers and creators. There are people who do reach out desiring to offer aid and are genuinely interested in my stories and overall potential. If I’m struggling I need to ask for help! (I know you’re thinking “Duh, bitch!” but let me cook. For a depressed brain this shit is groundbreaking. When all you know is darkness although you heard the sun was fun, you’re still frightened by that initial blinding light.) I need to stop trying to be so independent because at the end of the day we don’t do any of this shit by ourselves do we? We don’t live this life by ourselves.
The week that Kate Spade and my beloved Anthony Bourdain took their lives, it shook me.
I couldn’t help but think my God. You can reach the pinnacle of success – you can be a rich white man with the ability to create edible masterpieces, travel to the ends of the earth and back, be adored & respected by your peers, have millions of fans around the world, find love, start a family, change lives – and still want to kill yourself.
One of my biggest fears is achieving all that I’ve ever wanted but still have to live with this demon on my back. The one thing that keeps me going with this thing called life is the fact that I just want to be happy by making others happy. I want to exorcise said demon via my art. I just want my stories to come to life in a real way. But what if creating is not enough?
Maybe I have to work on trusting the people in my personal and professional life with my concerns. I keep wondering if Anthony ever felt like he could trust his people or was he also afraid of disappointing/concerning them? Could this have been avoided if he knew how to verbalize his feelings with a trusted loved one?
So much of my depression stems from my lack of focus, my insecurity, & my fear of asking for help and coming off as needy or annoying. I don’t want people to believe that I’m this pathetic person who can’t do for herself. But that’s essentially the burden I carry: the belief that I am a pathetic person without the ability to take care of myself and be productive.
After absorbing what Mommy said to me in the backyard I became thankful to have somebody who would just see that something is wrong and take action – relentlessly. She’d ask what was wrong mad times. Took me to a doctor. Figured it out.
I think that’s really the main factor to combating depression. So many folks with depression don’t have a responsive support system. Sure they have people who care about them, but they may not have the ability to understand or appropriately handle it. Even though I come from a good home and upbringing with family & friends who love me, I’ve still attempted suicide. I’ve just been lucky enough to be completely inept at knowing the actual side effects of certain medications.
I wanted to die so I could escape the pain and the helplessness of not knowing who I am, what my purpose was, or why I was misunderstood by essentially everybody I knew (although they loved me – they didn’t “get” me). I couldn’t understand why God would doom me to be constantly haunted by these grandiose visions of worlds and characters but would give me absolutely no work ethic to see them actualized. This guy…
I feel like a starting place to decoding the enigma of depression is to primarily take better care of my body. I now understand how the body, mind, and spirit are intrinsic to each other. I can’t neglect my body yet expect internal harmony and a sound mind. What I do and don’t consume matters bruh. Holy shit does it matter.
And yes, this does also apply to my love life. That shit is in shambles and although I am lit for the most part, I can hold myself accountable for my impulsive decisions. This includes who I choose to become close friends with.
Since being in L.A., I also experienced how far a truly vindictive person will go in an to attempt to destroy me. My mother’s warned me about people like that my whole life through her own experiences, but I always thought why would anybody fuck with me? I’m not the bell of the ball. Nigga I’m broke. But it happened. So I let all of these circumstances get the best of me and I just tapped out for a minute there.
I need to just look at what I have for a damn second.
I have to look to my family, my friends and my community so I can have the strength to rise to the occasion. I don’t want to die – I want to live. I don’t want to feel sluggish or be unproductive. I don’t like to feel tired or lost. I am a home body but that doesn’t mean that I like to be trapped in my room for weeks either.
I’ve been talking so much these past few years, paying dues & recently making the required sacrifices but now I’m really fired up. I want to see it done. I want that final draft son. On the table. I want movers and shakers to read my work and make it happen. I am finally ready to get this work done and I’m in a space where it can actually cook! I want to watch my television shows and films. I proclaim this in the name of Beyoncé.
I give thanks to this writing class, to the writers I’ve met, to the mentoring of Lena Waithe, and to my family – my mom and sister especially. It’s not even me holding myself up it’s them. I’m just gunna accept that I cannot do this alone and I won’t.
I will feel better. I will be better. I will ask for more help. I will push. I will always be closing. I will accomplish what I came out here to do. I will not die from this shit.
I’m just so ready to go apeshit.