Depression is the permeation of nothingness. It’s the acceptance of futility. It’s feeling helpless and needing help. It’s wanting to talk to someone but not being able to find anyone who speaks your language. It’s needing rest but not knowing how to stop. It’s being alive but feeling dead inside. It’s cutting everyone off then getting upset because no one ever calls you anymore. It’s not knowing how to find happiness. It’s not knowing how to sustain happiness. It’s not knowing what happiness is. It’s envying everyone else because they look so happy. It’s being uncomfortable with being comfortable. It’s failing so much that you fail to try. It’s feeling done with this whole thing. It’s inescapable grief. It’s the certainty of uncertainty. It’s grappling with the reality that you will never be able to make him proud. It’s always wanting to go back and do things better. It’s feeling out of touch with everything but pain. It’s losing sight of an escape. It’s having your whole body glued to the floor and being afraid to scream for help because you know that if they hear you then they will kill you. Depression is about knowing that you fucked up and that you will continue to fuck up because you are indeed a fuck up. It’s about feeling as though your inadequacies are contagious so you quarantine yourself in hopes that the “fuck up virus” will kill only you. It’s about believing that the world can’t get better until you are no longer a part of it. It’s about going from keeping everything to yourself to telling all of the wrong people. It’s about not always wanting to be so weird but not being able to help it. It’s about the disconnect between you and everyone you love. It’s about not knowing how to make anything work. It’s about searching for peace in vain. It’s about succumbing to anguish. It’s feeling too tired to fight back. It’s about having a strong idea of what normal is while knowing that it’s something that you could never be. Depression is how you feel at the exact moment when you realize that the good part is never going to happen. You didn’t miss it and there is no need to wait on it. Everything is a lie.
I think about her more now that she’s dead than I did when she was alive. I think about the disoriented look on her son’s face as he walked in and out of her funeral service. I think about how goofy she was a teenager. How annoying her laugh was, how pretty her face was…I think about the word was. How hurtful the past tense is when referring to young people that you love.
I did not think about her when she was alive. I had not seen her in at least 15 years. In fact even when we attended Junior High School together we were never super close but I never thought that death would reach her before her 35th year. I never thought that I would have to use the word was when referring to her. And now I kind of want to see her. I want to tell her not to trip, that things will be ok, that she is loved. And then I’m torn because I feel really fake. If she were alive and I happened to see her I would never think to share anything beyond the exchange of basic pleasantries. I probably would have no idea that she was contemplating suicide but then again, I would never ask.
It’s shameful what death reduces us to. It’s shameful how a person has to die in order to be heard sometimes. Often times when a young man is murdered and waiting to be pronounced dead his cell phone is jumping. Everyone is calling, texting, and sending dozens of messages that all seem to say, “are you ok?” But he isn’t ok. He will never be ok again. Then they DM him and send him friend requests and favorite his tweets and finally they make a memorial on a street corner and everyone has a party in his memory—but he is dead. I could never understand why we disregard the living only to celebrate the dead. Yet here I am. Mourning the tragic death of a woman who I wasn’t even close enough to know was suffering.
I am somewhat obsessed with her now that she will be forever in the past tense.
I find myself becoming less approachable, less tolerable of other people. The memories that I have of her are ever present and I can’t stop thinking about what her future may have been. I post about her. I cherish memories of her that I didn’t even know I had when she was alive. Like that time in the 8th grade when she was my girlfriend for two days and we broke up because I had hard rumors about her “going with” another boy (which were later revealed to be untrue). Little silly things come into my head that make me acknowledge once again to myself that she is dead. Her body has been reunited with the earth. And then I slowly attempt to rise out of bed, though I never seem to get enough sleep.
If a man has the constant feeling that everyone in the world is trying to kill him then he is probably a paranoid schizophrenic, however, if that man is black then he is merely a realist. A few months ago a childhood friend of mine was shot and killed at 5:00am at a traffic light. He just finished working a double shift at his job and was headed home and someone killed him. As far as facts are concerned that’s the end of the story. People on the streets say there was some kind of verbal altercation or that somehow jealousy was involved but it doesn’t matter. None of the gossip concerns me, what keeps me up at night is that Ronnie Kidd is dead.
“The Kidd” “Kidder” the dude who cried every week when we were playing Peewee Football because the coaches wouldn’t let him play defense is gone. The guy with the jokes, the style, and the always-positive outlook on life was killed over something that no man should ever die over. He had a wife, three boys, and friends everywhere. He wasn’t a dope-boy or a thug of any of any kind but yet and still he was gunned down as if his life meant nothing. And of the person who did it; one can assume that he went on about his business. He ate a good breakfast and kissed his woman on the lips. But a fact even more troubling is that we can definitely assume that his killer was another black man.
I rarely sleep well. I see memories of Ronnie Kidd, I recount deep conversations with Kevin Reese, and I recall cheering for Damion Bouchellion as a JV football player while he led our varsity squad to an undefeated season. I hear Sean Scott’s voice so clearly some nights that I forget that he’s dead. Perhaps I have mental illness or perhaps I have finally become aware that it is perfectly normal for a 30-year-old black man from East Oakland to be far better acquainted with the dead than with the living. I’m not a ghost whisperer and I don’t claim to have super natural abilities but I do talk to spirits. Sometimes they talk back to me and sometimes they don’t. I see them in visions. Sometimes I see them in the form of mischievous boys, sometimes I see them as responsible men, and sometimes I see them lying in pools of blood on the concrete.
I don’t want to be killed. On average I’m sure I think about death a lot more than most educated men. Sometimes it’s hard to leave the bed and sometimes it’s hard to come home. I know that if I were to accrue the resources necessary to lay on a psychiatrists couch then I would be diagnosed with a lot of afflictions and given a lot of pills but no western medicine or drugs can cure me of my mental blackness. Black men are the most hated species on Earth. Hated so much in fact that we actually hate one another to death.
Over the years I’ve learned that crazy is a relative term and although race is only a social construct it’s confinement is very real. Even if I escaped today my soul would still be in the trap. I miss my friend’s so much but it’s rare that I drink enough to cry about it.
Last night I was helping my daughter with her homework. It was a writing assignment in which she had to describe the appearance of her room. After reviewing the rough draft I told her to tell her reader where exactly the things in her room are located instead of just saying they are in her room. For example; Instead of saying you have a map of the world in your room say that you have a map of the world hanging on the wall above your bed. She took my advice and wrote what I thought to be a stellar piece. That was yesterday, today I had to give her back.
Specificity is the focus on small things, the ability to pay attention to details that the average person may not notice in order to positively affect the story at large. I only have about two days a week to spend with my child and I spend a significant portion of that time at work. I know that I am positively affecting her life. I know that I am going against the odds as a black man who chooses to handle responsibility and be a father. Yeah I know all of that stuff. I hear it all the time and that’s great. But it’s hard to feel like a father when the court gives you no more that 48 hours to be a parent. It’s hard to adjust to not having any real say in her life outside of what I say in those two days when I’m with her. It’s hard to not feel depressed every week when I kiss her goodbye and she goes to her real home.
Some men can’t deal with the trauma of having their parenting rights dictated to them and honestly I can’t blame them. I can’t say I never thought about checking out of the situation. It’s strange because everyone wants to judge absentee fathers but no one really wants to understand them. I mean how cruel does a system have to be in order to make a man want to leave his children? How is it that fatherhood has become so dispensable in the court of law? I don’t know. I try not to think about it. All I try to do is make my two days count.