I wanted to start this off with a couple of caveats. First I am having a rough physical time lately, but today I am going to talk about my mental health.
Mental health is different for each individual person. For me it was exasperated by my health problems in 2004. But I have had mental health problems for most of my life. I guess I was better at “coping” or as I say “hiding” it.
I am writing this not for pity at all. I am writing this to show you what can happen at any moment.
It is not uncommon for people who deal with mental health to have moments, days or even experience an extended period of tough times mentally. It is something I know and deal with constantly. If I am not dealing with it I am dealing with knowing that at any moment my anxiety and depression will hit me out of nowhere.
Today is one of those days. “Out of nowhere”, that is a weird concept. At one moment I can be happy and at another moment be crying. I do take medication but even with that things happen and my mood changes. You see one of the hardest parts about dealing with depression and anxiety is that you can try all you want to control them but in all honesty you can’t. I can only speak for myself but when I get this way I don’t have to have a trigger or a bad thing happen.
Let me just say I know I haven’t been out in the public saying what I have been doing lately. There is a reason about that. I have been doing things for different communities, but decided that I needed to go back to my basics. I am doing things that will help not only the Sarcoidosis community, rare disease community or the mental health community as well. I haven’t been so public because I want to do things not for the popularity but for the better of these communities. I feel I may have lost that aspect a bit. I went back to doing it for these communities and not feeling I needed to tell anyone what I am doing. The way I look at it is the actions and the reactions and results will speak for themselves. I don’t need to promote myself. I feel I lost that a bit. I personally know what I do is for the right reasons, but I felt I needed to put it out there to let others know. Now I am at a point of my life and my advocating life, that I am doing what I do for people who will see and find out what I have done in their time. I am not criticizing anyone on how and what they do for the communities they help. We all have our own ways to do things. I felt I was losing me. I feel like I am here for a reason. I have been defying health logic, both physically and mentally. I do believe there is a reason I didn’t pass on when so many, including me, thought I would. I remember one of the last conversations I had with one of my best friends, Rodney. He was in Intensive care and he called me and we were discussing life in general. He told me ” You are still here for a reason. You are here to finish your journey. You are not done.”
To this day I try to keep that in my head. I try to make sure I tell all of my story when I can. Everyone of us has a unique story. I always want to tell everything even if it is tough to discuss because I want people to know I may look on the outside as I am so strong, but I am human and I have good and bad days, I have days I am fighting with myself(I don’t say I am weak but I have moments of weaknesses).
Now back to today. Here I am in bed just “out of nowhere” I start crying. Why? I don’t know! What brought it on? I don’t know! I am here second guessing everything. I am second guessing my life, my death, have I truly helped people, and worse of all why am I still doing what I do both in advocating and in life. I feel like I disappoint people, I feel like I am disappointing myself as well. No specific reason just because. These days happen. Sometimes more often than not lately.
So I start thinking about my life. I have made many mistakes. I hope I am learning and helping others. Not to make up for my mistakes, but because I actually love helping people. Even though I know I love what I do, I still question if I am making a difference (once again not looking for pity). It is just part of my mental health fight. It is a daily struggle that I may never win. But I don’t feel like I lost either. I am still here.
I could of committed suicide in 2015. As most of you know I did set it up for it to happen. I was ready, so I thought. But I am still here for a reason, one I am still trying to figure out.
I was watching something today that made me think. It was a speech that Terry Crews said on AGT. “All it takes is one person to believe, for them to reach their dreams.”
I have been so lucky to have so many great people in my life. I truly believe without them I probably wouldn’t be here. As a child it was my Mom, my brothers and sister and my extended family to get me through my health fight of childhood leukemia. In my teen years it was my coaches Mr. Schneider and Mr. Burkley, who never gave up on me when I wanted to give up on myself. When I got misdiagnosed in 2004 with cancer, it was my daughter Savannah. When I got diagnosed with Sarcoidosis and fought through 8 surgeries in 4 years it is my wife, my daughters (Savannah and Isabella), and my new family of Sarcoidosis Warriors. First person I met online was Andrea Timmons, she talked me down so many times both online and on the phone even though she was suffering herself daily. Then it is people like Chasta, Trina, Cheryl, Cathleen, Kerry, Kelli Beyer, Duffy and so many more. MaryAnn and Rhonda from Bernie Mac have been an inspiration to me.
But there was and always will be two people in my life Rodney Reese and Paul Dickerson. We were and always will be “The Three Amigos.” Both Paul and Rodney have passed but they are always in my heart and always helping me still. They taught me what Brotherly love is. I still think about our calls and how we would end our calls with ” I LOVE YOU BROTHER!” I will always love you brothers!
I wrote this today because I want you all to know that it is okay not to be okay. Accept it, deal with it, make yourself okay with it. It doesn’t make you weak to accept it. It makes you strong. Also it is okay to ask for help! What makes you strong is self care both physically and mentally.
I am writing this to let you know YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!
I am here and I am at times not strong. I am strong to know this!