I am Marcus E.B. DuKing X and I suffer from depression.
I was officially diagnosed with recurrent depression in 2007. Recurrent depression is unique in the sense that a person can go weeks, months, even years without having an “episode,” but can instantly slip into depression with almost no warning.
Last year, August of 2013, I found myself in a world wind of deep-seeded depression. I could not for the life of me figure out why I had been placed here, what my purpose was, or if in fact, if I even had a right to live. I’ve struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts since about the age of 12. I can remember coming home as an awkward pre-teen, and locking myself in my room for hours. I didn’t have many friends and dreaded school because of constant humiliation I faced for so many things I could not control. I grew up feeling like I had no worth; feeling like my mere existence was a drag on my family. I hated myself; the way I looked, my skin color, my hair. I hated my mannerisms. I hated my voice. I hated the way I walked. I hated the fact that I wore glasses. I hated my body. I hated me.
My depression had gotten so bad as a teenager that I remember planning my suicide. I came home one day and for some reason or another, I was more depressed that day than usual. I took out a pen and paper and sketched out the details of how I’d end my life. I would do it by hanging – right there in my room. In the sketch, I drew my lifeless body hanging from a rope I’d make out of my bed sheets. I was so convinced that I was such an unwanted disappointment to all of those around me, that in my sketch I actually drew my parents walking in on my body hanging with a caption over my father’s head that read, “About damn time!” and another caption over my mother’s head that read, “Money, money, money, money!” (In reference to the insurance money that I had convinced myself my parents were more concerned about than me – an assertion that brings tears my eyes when I think about it to this day).
The self-hate I internalized as a child permeated throughout my teen and adult years. I hated every single inch of what made me who I was. And while I had battled depression for the better part of my life, I had never felt a dread loom the way it did just one year ago. And as I lay paralyzed on my couch in the living for four days, seeped in darkness, I was moved on the fourth day to get up and do.
And so I took a shower, I got dressed, and I drove myself down to the campus of FAMU where I ran into a ferry Godmother by name of Denise. I should note, that Denise is a registered life coach. But, before this particular day, we had only met once prior, in passing. I came into her office that day and, after exchanging pleasantries, she instantly zeroed in on the looming sadness that gripped me. At that moment, she wasn’t a life coach. In those moments, Denise was a listening ear. I told her about my struggles. My battle with depression. The thoughts of ending it all because, I saw no value in myself or what it was I could do or be. In a matter of minutes, this Ferry Godmother made me feel like my troubles were nothing more than a rainy day, clouds passing by and making room for the sun at the same time.
After that encounter with Denise, the Ferry Godmother, I began to ask myself, why do I hate me so much? What had I done to me that caused me so much hurt? Why did I feel like I did not have a right to live? At this time, I begin to journal and write for leisure again. The Ferry Godmother introduced me to meditation and I began attending a meditation class regularly. My anxiety (a disorder/condition that often follows depression) went away almost overnight. I can speak with authority when I say that I have not had a single anxiety attack in well over a year.
Among the many lessons I have learned from own mental health is this: depression is temporary, sadness is the illusion of hopelessness, and self-loathing is nothing more than a self-inflicted wound that can only be healed by self-love. And so at that moment, i begin to heal myself. I begin to heal. Heal. I begin to tell myself I was worth every breath God allowed me to take. I had every right to be here and I was loved by many.
Does it become a bit much sometimes? Indeed. Am I immune from days of unprovoked sadness? Hardly. Am I challenged daily with maintaining positivity around me? More than any other time than you can imagine. In fact, it was a depressive state that drove me to write this. I had been retired to my sleeping quarters for most of the day, unable to bring myself to be productive. What I’ve learned on this journey as a Pharoah-In-Training (PIT) is that being royal is not a matter of taste, or material wealth or gain, but rather, it is an understanding that when things happen to you, your response – rather than your reaction – is what makes you, you. The greatest gift given to me in my darkest hour was the light of meditation and calming my mind to talk to the God within. I have gained the understanding that I am connected to a Love so great, that even the thought of ending my life just did not make sense. Though we smile, you should know that Kings cry, too.
When we meet again, I must tell you the story of my first encounter with AmeriKKKa’s Worst Nightmare….
Until then, Be Royal in all that you do.
(More information on recurrent major depression can be found here. )