What if?

I always wonder, “What if?” What if I was born without a mental illness? What would my life be like? What would I be doing? What if I never tried committing suicide? When my depression and anxiety get overwhelming, it’s easy for me to fall into the trap of comparing my life to other people’s lives. I know Instagram is all a show and not everything is how it seems on the outside. But that doesn’t make it any easier for me when I let myself slip back into the darkness. Although I’m okay with being single because it allows me to focus all my time and energy towards my writing and raising awareness for mental health, sometimes I feel like I will die alone. Sometimes I feel like I will never have what my brother and sister have. A beautiful boy and girl and marriage. Although I am grateful for my life, I can’t help but think about my kids when I see what I’ve had to deal and live with. Being around my nieces and nephews is an incredible and indescribable feeling. It’s a preview of what being a father will be like. But if there’s a chance my mental illness will be passed down to my future kids, forget it. I’ll adopt kids. I wouldn’t wish a mental illness upon my worst enemy. It’s bad enough this world is a living hell, depression is like Satan constantly stabbing you with a blazing hot pitchfork.

One thing I know for sure is that everything I went through due to depression, anxiety, and my borderline personality disorder served a purpose. When I get an e-mail from a woman living in London telling me that she can’t open up to anyone but me, it’s the greatest thing in the world. Reading her e-mail and having her tell me that she feels “relieved and happy” when talking to me brings joy to my heart. I am grateful for having a mental illness because it doesn’t define who I am as a person. I am not ashamed of my mental illness and I share my story to raise awareness for mental illness and to break down the stigma attached to mental health.

Sometimes I don’t want to be a part of this world. Sometimes I don’t want to carry the responsibility of helping others by sharing my story. Sometimes I want to disappear forever like the character in the movie Watchmen who says, “Please kill me. I don’t want to be a part of this world anymore.” That’s how I feel. Lately, I’ve been a bit hesitant to share my story because I don’t want to be judged. I’ve been letting fear get the best of me and I’ve been running away from my purpose. I’ve never been one to give in to fear but I have the past few weeks. I was excited it was Mental Health Awareness month but I wasn’t doing anything to share my story. I know I can’t let my anxiety get the best of me and I have to continue being open about my struggles and triumphs with mental illness.

I went to the dentist a month ago and on the application they ask if you have depression, anxiety, and another mental illness I can’t remember. My initial reaction was to ignore the question and not put down that I suffer from anxiety and depression. For a brief moment I felt ashamed and embarrassed. It was the first time that ever happened to me. I hated that feeling. After a couple of minutes, I told myself, “No. You break down the stigma attached to mental health. You have nothing to be ashamed of. So what if you have depression and anxiety. Screw what anybody else thinks.” I then checked off the boxes labeled depression and anxiety.

When I was in Hollywood at a medical center to get tested the nurse noticed the tattoo on my left wrist. It’s a tattoo of a slit wrist. I have it on my left wrist and right wrist. She saw it and said, “Oh my God, what happened?” She laughed and said, “Just kidding.” I didn’t want to get into the story of why I got the tattoo because I was tired. I just wanted to get tested and go home. But almost immediately I realized it was a great opportunity to raise awareness for mental health. I proceeded to tell her how I used to struggle with depression. I told her how I used to cut myself and how Kid Cudi (my favorite artist ever) has the same tattoo on his left wrist and how he was the inspiration for me getting the tattoo. She was listening to every word. She replied, “I’ve been there, done that.” I told her it’s a reminder that I beat depression and not the other way around. Her reply was, “Amen to that.” I was happy. I told her, “My tattoo helps me start conversation and raise awareness for mental health.”

I was happy I shared my story because she related to me. She told me she used to cut herself too. Moments like that let me know that being open always lead to moments of human connection. At the end of the day, that’s what life is all about. Connecting with one another. Labels shouldn’t matter. The only label that matters is we are all human. We are all the same.

 

selfieRichard is 29 years old and living his dream in Los Angeles, CA. His firm belief in Christ and his faith has helped him in his struggles with mental illness. He is a writer and is working to publish his autobiography, Out of the Darkness, later this year. He loves music, movies and reading in his spare time. He works tirelessly to break down the stigma surrounding mental illnesses and disorders by sharing his story. He hopes to help empower the mental health community.

 

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