Hey dummy. You can’t keep trying to run away from me like that. I’m always gonna be with you. No matter what. She doesn’t love you. They don’t love you. Shit. You don’t love you. You’re nothing. You’re worse than nothing. You’re my bitch.
“Hey, easy. She does love me… and so do other people… I’m just tired—and sad. And I am not your bitch.”
Yeah? Why are you here again? Sad. Miserable. Lonely—with people, lonely alone. Take a drink. Go ahead. Take twenty—no a hundred. You’ll feel better.
“No. I can’t. Shut the hell up. Why are you so pissed off, anyway?”
Haha. I’m not telling you. It’s none of your damn business.
“I’m calling the wife… or a friend if she doesn’t pick up. I don’t need this right now, dude.”
* * *
That’s my depression talking. Needling me. Cajoling me. Laughing at me. Constantly telling me my life isn’t worth living. I’ve been living with this character, depression, my entire life; though we only met formally six years ago after I turned twenty-seven. His name is DeWayne. He can be cool sometimes but other times he can be an arrogant d-bag. And all this extra negativity coming from him? As of the past six months or so, it’s kinda my fault. I haven’t been taking him on regular walks and I sure as hell haven’t been taking him to the gym like I should. We do like the same music, but lately I haven’t been listening to the kind he likes. And he’s mad that I haven’t been feeding him healthy food either. Right now, I’m holding a bottle of vodka in one hand and a glass of ice in the other but I haven’t poured it yet. Sometimes I get lazy and I try to use vodka to shut DeWayne up—but recently, it’s just made him louder and angrier.
* * *
Just pour the damn drink and be done with it already. When you drink, all your problems go away.
“And they come right back in the morning—we’ve been through this a million times.”
Yeah, papi—but this time it’ll be different. I promise. See? Good boy. Pour it. Put it to your lips. Good boy…”
“No,” I say, slamming my drink on the kitchen counter and then pouring it down the drain. “I won’t this time. I’m going outside for a smoke.”
That’s my boy. A cigarette. Finally, something we both can enjoy.
* * *
DeWayne is right. We both find temporary pleasure in a cigarette—especially since lately I haven’t been taking care of him, or myself. I inhale the first drag of tar, nicotine, and pure momentary bliss. DeWayne is loving life right now, too. But my lungs and heart, however, are both incredibly pissed at me and have been threatening to go on strike if I don’t quit smoking for good. Unlike DeWayne, both my lungs and heart have asked that their names be withheld from this story for privacy purposes.
* * *
Why are we back inside? I’m already bored. I can just keep making fun of you… or, oh I know, you can hit yourself. Remember when you used to do that?
“I haven’t done that since I was thirteen. It’s not going to help get us what we want—what we need.”
* * *
It’s tough to admit this, but from ages six to thirteen DeWayne used to tell me it was okay to slap myself in the head repeatedly when things got too intense at home or when I couldn’t solve a homework problem or life problem. When I was in middle school, he had me wrap a belt around my neck after my dad got a little too physical with me. Somehow I figured out how to tell DeWayne that physically hurting myself wasn’t good and I stopped. But lately he’s been tempting me to start up again.
* * *
I see you looking at that bottle of sleeping pills. That would be easy. Just do it like your dad did.
“No man. We’ve been there before and we’re not going back. It’s been six years and it’ll be another six hundred more.”
You are such a drama queen.
* * *
I’m giving you all the bad things about DeWayne but sometimes he’s good to me, too. I’ve had to fight so hard against him my whole life, that he’s helped serve as sort of a rocket booster in the opposite direction of the feeling that I’m worthless. He can be encouraging at times, and he even lets me talk about him in public because he knows he hurts me and feels bad about it from time to time.
* * *
So you’re sad, bee-yotch. So you’re not getting what you want. Why even try?
“You’re not my enemy. You’re my friend. We’ve been through this before and we’ve made it out.”
Alright… what do we do? What did we do last time?
“Well, we’ve got to get back into therapy—maybe you and I do couples therapy, like last time,” I say going down the list of what I call my mental health first aid kit. “Get back into running. Less fried foods. Be vulnerable with the people we love. Manage expectations. And we’ve got to be in constant communication. If you’re not feeling good, I’m not feeling good. You’ve got to speak up sooner and so do I. Deal?”
Fine. But less talk-y and more run-y. Come on. Get your running shoes, Mr. I’m-Gonna-Take-Action. Hurry your ass up.
“Dude. Chill. I’m putting on my running gear as fast as I can. What should we listen to while we’re jogging? Coldplay?”
Dog. You know me too well. Start with “Viva la Vida.” That’s my jam, yo.
“Done. Let’s roll,” I say as we take off into the streets of Southern Los Angeles, the moon and the street lights as our only guide through side alleys, front lawns, and a thick layer of urban smog.
What you just read is my, Josh's, story. You can find more stories like mine in The i’Mpossible Project - Volume 2: Changing Minds Breaking Stigma Achieving the Impossible, now available for pre-order (click here). 50 authors. 50 inspirational stories of managing and overcoming mental health obstacles. I'm so proud of these people I can hardly contain myself!! :)
Read a few sample chapters HERE.
The first 200 people to pre-order will get a “thank you” in the front of the book, a free ebook copy of the book The Gospel According to Josh: A 28-Year Gentile Bar Mitzvah, and a free ebook copy of The i’Mpossible Project - Volume 1: Reengaging With Life, Creating a New You.