I thought long and hard on what to "address" this month. Many things crossed my mind as noteworthy & ideal discussion topics, but the last thing I really wanted to talk about is what I've decided (albeit reluctantly) to "chew on" this month. Depression is something I thought I was familiar with already, but as evidenced by a host of things I've been faced with as of late, there is still more I've yet to uncover. It's been said that you can only teach that which you need to learn. Following that logic, I guess the head space I find myself in lately makes perfect sense. Different people deal with pain in different ways. My way is to face it head on... & what I'm realizing now is that for the majority of my life I've also worn it like a badge of honor. For me, it can be very seductive. I find that there is value, and excitement in allowing myself to feel the depths of whatever I'm going through...whether it's positive, negative, or somewhere in between. One thing I am not able or willing to do is "phone it in".
Having been in therapy for 4 years or so, it's been established that I have in the past, and am now experiencing what is called "situational depression". A diagnosis of situational depression, or adjustment disorder with depressed mood, is made when symptoms of depression occur within three months of a stress-causing event, are more severe than expected, or interfere with normal functioning.
(see When Life Gets You Down: Coping With Situational Depression)
Most times I'm able to keep it together. To hear others tell it, I'm "strong", "courageous", "bold", and "fearless" beyond measure. While those things are oftentimes true about me, there are also many times when I'm a step away from the edge of absolute despair. A sensitive, emotional, passionate, artistically inclined, Scorpio who happens to be predisposed to darkness --- that about sums me up. Most times I'm able to delve into that realm, and come out of it with a deeper, more profound understanding of it all. But throw in a host of unresolved issues from childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood & that's where I usually tend to live and dwell in my head. Add to that the everyday challenges associated with being a black gay man who is taking care of bills & responsibilities, and adamantly working to build, grow, and run an arts organization/company, & you've got my life.
As I wrote in great detail last month about "overcoming adversity", and as I'm often reminded through my spiritual practice(s), I am always at a choice. Thankfully, my quest for spiritual enlightenment which began shortly after leaving home for college in 1993 has equipped me with a wealth of information, tools, knowledge, insight, and skills that have all collectively been my saving grace. I know what to do. I pray, I meditate, I write, I let my passions and talents as an artist guide me along the way. I laugh, I cry, I eat, & I workout. I listen to music, and read. Still there are times when all of that just doesn't feel like enough to "shake the blues". This is the "not so comfortable" reality of the situation. There are times when I know that what I'm feeling will pass & I'm well equipped to "weather the storm". Then there are instances during which the sum of all the sadness I've felt in my life tends to weigh me down and I don't feel like "fighting the good fight" anymore. It's frightening, especially considering all of the beauty, light, love, joy, and peace that I've experienced in the past six years ---particularly through my work with BSC. That's how and why it all began...because I was determined not to let HIV, my sexuality or anything else define or defeat me.
There is a lot that I'm not ready to make "public" or speak on regarding my personal life, all of which I'm trying my hardest to make sense of right now. As I grow, so do the circumstances and all of what is at stake. I try desperately to remember that fact & to keep it all in perspective. Sometimes I'm successful, and other times... I'm not.
My bottom line is this: I choose to live. How I choose to live, ultimately is up to me. I continue to see a therapist. I've been seeking help in the form of reaching out to friends, family, and loved ones. I utilize all things artistic to inspire me and to create work(s) that (hopefully) help & inspire others. I have a daily ritual of prayer & meditation which keeps me in spiritual, mental, and emotional alignment. I'm learning/remembering how to maintain. As I face what I'm experiencing head on, I'm doing the absolute best I can. It's my hope that anyone experiencing something even remotely similar will choose to seek help and reach out, somehow. As I have to keep reminding myself - you can't always do it alone...
Until the next time, be blessed, be encouraged....BE BRAVE