My Mental Health is Not a Trending Topic

August 2nd, 2018 I was diagnosed with bipolar 2, non-maniac. I felt a sense of relief yet still… weary. I’ve had plenty of side effects to medicine surrounding my HIV status and before the doctor reached bipolar 2, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. This year alone has been one of the hardest in my life. Not hard because of outside forces, but hard dealing with me. I remember my sister told me one time that she and my mother don’t speak to me as often as they should because I am hard to deal with… I guess she was right.

I say that to say, I never knew how serious mental health was. I never knew the depth of what self-awareness meant or how important it was. I never knew what my triggers were because I didn’t pay attention to exactly what caused them. For so long I swore I “knew who i was” yet slowly but surely I was looking at a stranger staring back at me every time I looked into a mirror. I had no desire to know this person. I don’t do well with strangers, even if we look identical.

I knew something was wrong with me when it was hard for me to write. I would be sitting at my desk with my pen and notebook, struggling to put my thoughts on a page. The voices were distracting me. Every which way they could, they pulled me away from my purpose. I was being told, “you working this hard for what” “If you haven’t made it yet, you never will”. After hearing that I would get so frustrated and push everything off my desk, scream, then log onto social media as I basque in my depression looking at how other people were living their best lives. I was so jealous, angry, bitter, and confused. I allowed myself to pack up all that baggage and find me a place to live on Victimhood Lane. “Why me?” “Why am I going through this?” “How was I so poppin a few year ago but now I’m here?” were questions I would ask myself and the voices responded.

As many times I’ve laid on my back, gotten on all fours and put a arch in my back, or put myself in the position to pray but instead performed my greatly reviewed fellatio; I never felt this low in my life. Literally. Not even on January 30th, 2016 when Patrick and I broke up. Not even on March 6th, 2016 when my grandpa died. Not even on December 27th, 2016 when Chance died. Not even on July 31st, 2017 when Tyler died. I have fallen countless times and got right back the fuck up. This time was different. This time I fell and got comfortable, I didn’t want to rise. Even typing this right now, it’s hard. I am constantly fighting to stay focused. But let me tell you something, I AM FINALLY PUTTING UP A FIGHT! I can only do my best, which hasn’t been done in a long time. Though all of this is brand new to me, my friends, coworkers, and family; I can see the glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.

I’ve also gotten back into the habit of praying. I don’t know who does or doesn’t believe in a higher faith but I am speaking from my experience. I am not religious, I am spiritual. I believe I am connected to the higher being because I was created in the image of that, something greater than this physical body you see here on earth. My soul in using this body to help the people and when my work is done, I will leave this realm and return to where I was created. It had been awhile before I started praying on the regular. I had built up so much resentment towards God. I felt left behind as all of my friends were flourishing. When in all reality, I turned my back on God, who was all to familiar with my backside (no funny shit we’re talking about God here people). Blasphemous statements came from my mouth like classic diss tracks. “Why I gotta talk to God when I’m doing this on my own?” It’s funny, now, that I thought I had to carry my burdens. My burdens were too heavy for my own damn good. God reminded me my burdens were not to be carried. Hell, even Erykah Badu told me to pack light. Yea, no. I didn’t get the memo sis!

It seemed like no matter the location I would pull up in a U-Haul with all my demons, regrets, burdens, and broken promises. Whether work, a show, a hookup, or a kiki with my girls I felt heavy. I felt like I was being weighed down. It was even getting harder for me to breathe. I am so happy to FINALLY realize ain’t nothing wrong with asking for help. It ain’t nothing wrong to ask for resources. But before you ask, you must first admit, “I am not doing good. I know something is wrong with me but I just don’t know what it is. I need help”.

I understand first hand why folks don’t ask for help as well as why mental health has such stigma around it, WE DON’T TALK ABOUT IT! As said before, the depiction of mental health in the world is fucked up. Period. I ain’t look like them so I ain’t think I was “crazy”. The gag is, it’s your mother, father, sister, uncle, cousin, doctor, lawyer, judge, preacher, boyfriend, girlfriend, mailman that are going through some sort of mental health struggle on different levels. It’s more common than not but what is most common, is the lack of awareness, empathy, and action for mental health to be discussed at the dinner table.

Before I could even ask for help Valerie Wojo & Debbie Sergi-Laws, my coworkers, sat me down, locked the office door, and asked, “What’s wrong? We’re concerned.” They laid out every single red flag they noticed that was out of my character. From my job performance to my appearance down to the way I barely smiled, everything was noticeable while I thought I was doing a good job hiding behind a mask. They saw right through that. Kinda like how everybody saw through my “in the closet days”, even though my closet door was a screen door. In all seriousness, they helped me save my own life.

All the power to save yourself is already within you, you’ve just got to dig deep to find it. You have to know when you need saving. In most cases, you won’t know because you’re pride will let you know that everything is fine, you don’t need any help, and you’ve got this. Again, it’s okay to ask for help. Don’t keep putting it off til one day you crash. Before getting the help I needed, I was nasty towards my friends. They knew something was wrong but to save themselves from being drained, they let me know they loved me but they couldn’t do anything for me BUT love me.

I am happy to be here. Thank you for reading. Feel free to unpack with me. Feel free to share resources or support. Feel free, period.

Michael Lamb