Here's a story all about how my life got crazy, turned upside down. If you'd take a couple seconds, just sit right there, I'll tell you all about how I realized I was depressed and pulled myself back up for air.
Back in September 2016, I started a new job in my neighborhood in Queens; I made the decision to work in Queens because my father was diagnosed with stage-4 cancer the year before, his condition was not very good, and I did not like being far from him in case of emergency. Working four blocks from my parent's home meant I could come home for lunch and chat with them, check on my dad's nurse, and be accessible in whatever way they needed me.
Within the first two weeks of my new job my 6- foot father collapsed, with only my 5-foot mother to be there for him. Luckily, my sister and I were able to get home within 5 minutes of mom's frantic phone call. Upon arriving to the hospital, the emergency room neglected to treat my father in time causing his hemoglobin levels to drop into a critical state, as six arteries in his stomach had ruptured.
It took 24 hours before we could acquire this information. I was my father's health care proxy, it was not that that they wouldn't give me the information, but it took them 12 hours before they even began examining him in the emergency room.
While they examined him, at 3 a.m. the doctors sent my family home and said they would call if anything develops, but in the meantime we should rest.
I was getting dressed for work, I receive a call from the doctor informing me that it is imperative that I get to the hospital as quickly and safely as possible. My father's stomach was internally gushing blood, they have no idea how long he has. We had enough emergencies for me to recognize that doctors don't usually speak like this unless it is serious.
I got to the hospital and see the strongest man I know looking like skin and bones. He was cold, the width of his shoulders and the size of his hands and feet were the only indicators of what a large man he once was.
When I'd left him at 3 a.m. he was able to look at me and tell me not to worry, that he will be just fine. Just a couple hours later and he could barely even summon the strength to open his eyes and mouth. While my family lent their support to him, I spoke to the doctors about the procedure they are going to try in which they singe the arteries that have ruptured, to cause scar tissue to form inhibiting the flow of the blood...from what I understood.
I asked, "Statistically speaking, what's the chances he'll survive?"
She responded, "Realistically, he may not survive the procedure, 99 percent of people don't, and it would be a miracle."
I went to my dad, I told him, "One step at a time. One punch at a time. One round at a time."
This was our thing, Rocky was our movie.
We reminded him to stay positive, that mindset can beat the odds, and to remember that he can get through anything if he believes that he can, and so he did.
His surgeon was amazed, and would always remind him that he was his miracle patient.
I, however, lost myself.
I knew what I needed to do, who I needed to be, and how I needed to be to keep everything copacetic.
I kept pushing, I didn't take a break to internalize and process what was really happening, I was so focused on his long term survival, I aligned myself with the goal, and mentally sat there.
I only channeled my thoughts and energy to him, no matter what I was doing, and I became a whole different person. I couldn't focus on work, dance, or enjoying life.
It is like I placed myself on a railroad track towards overall success, positive mindset, keep working, keep dancing, keep smiling.
But I didn't find joy in anything I was doing. I tried watching my favorite shows, I tried listening to my favorite songs, eating healthy, cutting out alcohol, spending time with people.
I began to isolate myself and not communicate.
My partner at the time noticed I was changing and provided all the support he knew how to, but honestly it was not enough. I told him that I thought I was depressed, that I couldn't process things, my brain was not functioning the way it usually does, I was not alert, I couldn't remember things. I expressed that things that usually make me happy didn't feel like they mattered, and that I didn't even want to get out of bed anymore. He told me to keep being my usual self and I'll get through it. So I did, but I did not feel like myself.
We broke up a couple months later, and then dad died shortly after.
I could not understand.
I did my best to be perfect at everything, to do all the things the way I am supposed to, to ensure the longevity of both of these relationships, and I failed.
After dad's funeral, my ex showed up to my home, he asked me how I was doing.
I responded, "Nothing makes sense, I told you how I felt before, can you imagine how I feel now? I feel like I died too, and I can't be resuscitated."
He said, "You know what you need to do, you'll come back to life, you can't ever not be you."
At this point, I'd been depressed for over a year, so these words were incomprehensible.
My depression was so deep, I couldn't recognize things like physical pain and hunger.
On the outside I seemed like I had it all together. Perfect body, perfect hair, perfect eyeliner, PERFECT!
But, inside I was in crumbles, and I did not know how to put the pieces back together because I felt nothing.
Up to the one year anniversary of dad's passing I continued to pretend that I was just fine and that everything was perfect, hoping that if I be, I'll become.
Truth is, I never acknowledged the pain I'd been feeling this entire time.
There was pain there waiting for me to say, "Hey you, let's talk about it."
Pain must be treated like a child. When it shows up, you should greet it and let the pain know that while you appreciate its existence, but it does not have the privilege to color all over the walls.
When you ignore pain, it will continue to grow, and it will scream for attention. You can distract yourself, but the pain will just scream louder, throw itself on the floor and flail its limbs in the air never even considering that maybe it should stop for air. It just keeps growing, and when you think you've done all you can to evade it, it will sneak up on you and drop kick you to your knees, leaving you like WTF yo?!
I was drop kicked to my knees on the first of January 2019 when I recognized a betrayal and began to accept that my best friend of 15 years will no longer be apart of my life.
Losing my best friend and why we parted ways threw me for a loop because I had no clue it was coming, and I couldn't prep myself to handle it, I couldn't rationalize any bit of it.
I had no distractions, and surprisingly everything was going well. I had no reason to not be happy, but still was not feeling a damn thing, I was just riding the waves. I was not connecting to anything or anyone.
I could not commit to anything, frankly I couldn't find anything in my soul to give me drive. I was completely empty. The lack of commitment and communication was pain showing everyone that it had taken over. And you know something, I still would not acknowledge it.
I dove into a new level of meditation around this time, and my dreams became vivid and intense. One night, I dreamt that I was wearing a white dress, floating in an icy body of water, face down. I felt myself limp, heavy, and completely frozen. That's when I recognized that I have to wake up and get passionate about something, I needed a fire to fuel the resuscitation.
When trauma has enveloped your being it is difficult for you to discern what part of you is really you or is the scars doing the talking and walking.
I couldn't bear holding it in anymore and the moment I said out loud, "I need help, I am depressed", was the moment everything changed. I put my ego aside and allowed myself to be vulnerable to my friends and family, and allowed them to help me see something new because my old habits were not working.
I asked some friends to send me a list of affirmations I could use to remind myself of how I am important to them.
I communicated daily with friends who facilitate loving words and kindness. I let them know exactly how I felt, and they would always remind me that everything is ok even if I don't feel ok.
I took all the advice from everyone to get out, try new things, see new things; since I felt empty I should go fill up my cup! And the wonderful thing is I have already experienced empty and loss of identity so if I didn't like whatever was in my cup, I can throw it out and start again. I was so lucky to be in the state that I was. That mindset gave me liberty to live.
While exploring and communicating, I spoke to my pain. I journaled my experience and it took consistency to see results.
I asked where it hurt the most, why does it hurt, what does it need to feel better. The answers took time to come, and I sat, impatiently at times, but most importantly I was acknowledging that it hurts.
I call this process purging, its messy, ugly, and scary. The key to getting through it is patience. I reminded myself that I am my own best friend and if I can't be loving and kind to me, I'm not going to get better.
It pleases me to say that I never felt more grounded, I've never felt stronger.
There were days I felt the emptiness, and I reminded myself that empty is good, because I can always get a refill.
I am grateful to have had the experience I did, to love, to let go, to learn, to be vulnerable, and to be loved. I look forward to my future every moment, and the endless possibilities available if I open my mind to it.
I am grateful for the new level of respect I have for myself, because I can recognize my capabilities. I know what I have been through, how it hurt, and where I want to be because I found peace within myself.
I share my story with you because if there's a part of you hurting, be kind to yourself, begin with facing the pain, and forgiving yourself. Be honest with people around you, and most importantly YOURSELF, about how you feel. Ask for patience and compassion while you figure it out.
None of this is easy, but you must pull yourself up for air, don't allow the emptiness to consume you. The process will challenge your ego, will test your patience, will require isolation, but the amazing feeling of just breathing and living in the moment is worth it. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT INVESTMENT YOU CAN MAKE.
Life is meant for living and you won't live up to your full potential if you bury yourself in the pain. You will have to unlearn things and face yourself with all the uncertainty in your heart, but you're never alone.
You can come back from anything at anytime.