DEPRESSION: Real Men DO Cry

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I couldn’t live the rest of my life in pain and sadness. I reached over to the nightstand and put every pill I saw into the glass of 7-Up. The clear liquid had turned a murky blue from the coating on the Lorcet pain pills. I tried not to think about my family. Committing suicide would be considered a selfish act on my part, but they weren’t walking in my shoes.

Jay was already waiting for me. I should have been with him anyway. The tears were flowing so hard I could barely see the contents in the glass. I picked it up and swirled the glass around then set it down. All I needed now was the straw.

The television was the only source of light. I glanced down and spotted a single straw on the carpet. It was a huge degree of difficulty, but I could reach it. I kicked my left leg out of the bed and onto the floor. A spasm shot through my whole right side. The pain was so excruciating that I had to clench something with my left hand. I tried for the pillow, but lost my balance and knocked everything off the nightstand, including my farewell cocktail.

“Baby, baby, are you alright?”

Seconds later Debbie stood at the door, taking in the whole scene. “What are you trying to do? Why didn’t you call me?”

Evidently God had other plans for my life.

(Excerpt from G Man: The Education of a Criminal by Gregory Marshall)

The death of Robin Williams has forced the whole world to take a closer look at depression. I’ve battled with depression since childhood. I didn’t know they had a name for it back then or what the symptoms were. I just dealt with it the best way I knew how. It’s hard to pinpoint what caused it or when it all started. Maybe it was the moment I realized that my father could care less if I was alive or dead. Maybe it was the moment I realized that I’d have to become a man child and fend for myself and my siblings at such an early age. Or maybe it was the moment I was arrested for my very first armed robbery at 17 and charged as an adult. I’ll never forget my very first day locked in that 12 x 8 foot cell. I cried uncontrollably most of the night. That was the first time in my life that I contemplated suicide.

I somehow found a way to get past that thought and deal with my reality. But that was just the beginning of my very turbulent life. I perfected the art of hiding my depression. I wore a mask that only came off when I was alone. That’s when I felt free to let the tears flow. I cried a lot after that for many years. I’ll never forget how I cried the day I was charged with the death penalty. I was 23 years old. My thoughts were imprisoned in my young and very complex mind. The nightmares always kept me from sleeping. The criminal justice system was about to legally kill me. My cell was my coffin. My spirit was nonexistent. I was the walking dead.

Fast forward to 1996. I’ve just been shot 5 times. I’ve been forced to watch my best friend die right next to me. I’ve already died 3 times on the operating table. My right side is paralyzed. Now I cry openly in front of everyone. I feel like my life is worthless. I’m mad at God for sparing my life. I’d rather be in hell. About 3 months after the shooting I summoned up enough courage to take my own life. I failed at that but it was never far from my mind everyday after that. Years later I found a way to cope with my reality. I started writing about it. God sent me through the darkest valley and then blessed me with this gift.

Fast forward to today. So now I’m a writer. I have a literary agent, editors, a personal manager and a publishing deal with Brown Girls Publishing. I just signed a contract for a potential movie deal. I’m currently writing my second book. It’s better than my first one. I should be happy, right? Well, sometimes you can have everything and still have nothing. Depression is something that I still deal with every single day of my life. I’ve come to realize that we live in a very dark time. Death and despair is everywhere you look. No matter what you do the people closest to you will put you down to validate themselves. We live in a dog eat dog society.

Yes, I still cry. Sometimes a certain song will do it. Or maybe a sermon from my Pastor. Or maybe a flashback from the shooting. Rubbing my fingers across my bullet wounds always brings the flood to my eyes. But I know my life was spared for a reason and my pain and suffering is not in vain. I’m still here so that you may read these very words I’m typing with this one finger. I know that I’m not the only one dealing with depression. Hopefully Robin Williams’ death will shed some much needed light on this illness. I wish I could continue writing more on this but I can’t see the keyboard clearly because of my tears.

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