All is High

“After the Storm: There is Hope”

Advertisements

Author’s Sidenote: ANY CONSTRUCTIVE feedback ANY OF YOU can offer me would be wonderful. This is the beginning of a novel I’d like to write and I am interested to hear what you all think. The “mystery” of Julian is meant to be revealed later in the text.

 

She waited by the receptionist’s desk for almost three hours now. Hildy felt the sweat on her forehead begin to accumulate like soldiers ready to go to war; however, the only war that she was focused on was the battle of her thoughts in her head. What’s going to happen now? Why did this have to happen to our family? Is he going to be okay? Will he be able to build a future for himself? She rubbed her finger tips together in a circle motion, feeling them get more moist with every movement the second hand made on the clock. Her right leg began to fidget, ready to create a hole in the ground.

 

She wasn’t alone in this ordeal – her husband Santiago, or Santy, had helped Hildy keep it together but Santy had absolutely no patience whatsoever and waiting was not an option for him. Wanting to avoid having even more to worry about, Hildy looked at Santy and said, “It doesn’t look like he is coming out anytime soon.” She felt the roots of her golden brown hair begin to curl with every sweat drop that formed with every anxious thought. Santy got frustrated, tightening his eye lids over his large eyes, “This is an injustice…having to wait so damn long.”

 
Hildy shook her head. She was not in the mood to deal with his lack of patience, “Santy – go home. When I hear something, I’ll call you and have you come back.” While Santy wanted to be by his wife, he also knew that his patience was incredibly limited. He nodded his head and kissed her on her forehead lightly, “The minute you get word of anything, call me. I’ll be waiting.” He smiled in a way that made Hildy feel safe.

 
At about ten thirty that night, a tall man came from behind the glass door. It was hard to see his face, but his complexion matched Hildy’s lighter skin when it typically matched Santy’s darker shade. He was looking down the entire time, wearing a navy blue Hawaiian print t-shirt and black shorts. The young man’s attire did not match his mood whatsoever – he looked broken. As he was walking head down, he looked as though he were muttering something to himself. As he got closer to Hildy, she heard him whisper, “In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.” It took everything in Hildy’s power to not cry; it wasn’t the time for that. It was a time for her to be happy that her son came out.

 
Julian saw his mother and embraced her tighter than he ever had. I’m so stupid. Why did I make her suffer? What am I going to do now? His arms went around her shoulders and they walked to together in unison, “Nene, I am so happy to see you,” Hildy declared, her green eyes glistening with tears being held back by her lower eye lid. Julian gave a light smile, “Ma, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Because the day had been difficult for Julian, it was very difficult for him to show more excitement to his mother. He wasn’t sure she understood that.

 
They began to walk towards the front doors that would lead them outside, and to his father who was waiting in a 2005 White Dodge Durango – the car that had belonged to his older brother, Josue. Julian and Santy did not necessarily have the best relationship; it always bothered Hildy. Hildy claimed that they had always acted more like strangers than father and son – however, she was excited to see Julian lunge towards his father to hug him and give him a kiss. “Bendicion,” said Julian, a phrase that displayed reverence and one that Santy made sure his son said to all of his family members. Santy didn’t smile too much, but was clearly happy to see his son, “Que Dios te Bendiga.” May God Bless You.

 
Julian had let go of his father so that he could open the door to sit in the back seat. He wanted both of his parents to sit up front because Julian knew that he was bound to be emotional at some point. And Julian was right – as the car began to drive back to his parent’s house, he was staring at his reflection through the door window, watching the rain distort the image he had of himself. Each time his image became more destroyed, the harder he would cry in the backseat. Julian was trying his best to be quiet, but it became such a loud and ugly cry. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” is all that could come out of Julian’s mouth. Hildy looked forward to avoid looking at her son and replied, “This will all pass with time. I am just happy that I am able to see you.”

 
Hildy’s phone blipped as they turned a corner to get onto the freeway, “It’s your Titi Sonny. She’s been worried about you,” she explained. Julian thought about his Titi Sonny being worried and became preoccupied himself – Titi, or Aunty, Sonny suffered from anxiety and depression. All he could think about was Titi Sonny throwing herself across the floor and being so worried about Julian’s condition. Hildy gave Julian her phone, “Call her. Let her know you’re okay; it will be a lot better coming from you than from me,” she inferred.

 
Julian unlocked his mom’s phone with the password she used for everything, which was her birth year. He opened up the address book on the device and searched for Sonny’s name. When his eyes found the target, his right thumb pressed on her name and he lifted up the phone to the right side of his face as he awaited his aunt to pick up the phone.
It rang about three times before she answered, “Buji!” which was the nickname everyone called Hildy in her family, “Julian? How is he? Is he okay?” Julian smiled – it was comforting to know that family cared about his well-being, “Titi, Bendicion.” Sonny was never good at hiding her emotions and this time was no exception. Sonny was crying very loudly on the other hand, “Julian! Que Dios te Bendiga! I was so worried about you. I am so happy to hear you voice,” her speech was interrupted by tiny gasps and loud cries, “Everyone was worried, pero, I am glad to hear you’re okay.”

 

As Julian was talking to Sonny, the phone dinged: it was text message from his Titi Mery asking Hildy how Julian was. Julian tuned the cries from his Titi Sonny out as he responded to his Titi Mery: Hi Titi, this is Julian. I am okay. Thank you for being there for my mom and helping out.

 
After about six minutes, Julian realized that he was at home, “Titi, we just got home, so I’m going to go ahead and let you go. I love you so much and thank you again. Bendicion.” Bendicion typically marked the beginning and end of a conversation in a Puerto Rican family. “Que Dios te Bendiga. Tell my sister I love her.”

 
As soon as she said sister, Julian thought about his own siblings. Because Josue, his oldest brother, was in prison, he knew that his father probably didn’t tell Josue what had happened to avoid him being worried. Santito, who was his youngest older brother, lived in Puerto Rico with their oldest sister, Minerva, probably had no idea either because his father did not want to worry them. He didn’t even think about Jasmine, who was Julian’s older sister by a year and a half – Santy was too proud to allow other family members to worry about anything he could handle on his own. The sibling that probably had any idea what was going on with him was Tino, his brother from his mom’s first marriage. Tino was younger than Josue by a few years, but older than Santito.

 
He used his mother’s phone to call Tino. When Tino answered, he immediately said, “Bendicion.” Julian began to talk to his brother with tears gushing from his eyes, “Tino, it’s me, Julian. I am so sorry that you were worried and are going through all of this. I am so sorry.” Tino’s voice got very serious – this was the perfect opportunity for him to lecture Julian, but instead he said, “I’m glad to hear your voice. I’ll be up to see you all in a few weeks – we’ll talk then.” Julian agreed and hung up the phone.

 
After he had finished his phone calls, he entered his parent’s house. He stared at it; there was so much history in this house and here, he added yet another chapter. Julian walked into the kitchen and Santy looked at his son, “Are you hungry?” Julian shook his head and looked at his mom, who was smiling at him. “I am just so happy to see you,” she announced. Julian gave another light smile but you can tell that he was exhausted. Hildy noticed his demeanor and led him to the room behind the kitchen, “We put all your stuff in here, so if you want to sleep on your bed, I hope you won’t mind this room for now.” Julian nodded his head and spoke in a groggy tone, “Yeah. That’s fine.” Hildy moved from the sink and led Julian to the back room.

 
Julian had made eye contact with his bed and immediately jumped back into it. He looked across the room and noticed his sectional was in the room, as well as his dresser – all of these items organized in a very neat manner. Julian chuckled, being the first time tonight he had done anything that displayed happiness, “Ma, you always have a way of making the impossible possible.” The room was tiny, but all of the furniture fit comfortably with ample walking space. Hildy really had a knack for making impossible things happen, including saving Julian from his current situation.

 
Hildy smiled, “Well, you know me.” She laughed lightly and sat down on the edge of his bed, laying her right hand on top of his legs. “Listen, I know that things are hard right now, and they will be for a while, but I need you to promise me that you’re going to be strong throughout all of this,” she requested. Julian sighed, “That’s a difficult promise to make.”

 
Nene, If I can get through difficult times, so can you,” she explained. Julian had heard about his mother’s past a few times but did not really know why it was so difficult. Hildy was a very reserved individual – she wasn’t one to dwell in the past or think about how other people have wronged her, making her the paragon of forgiveness. Hildy felt different that night: her son was home and her heart was as open as it could be. Due to her newfound mood, she sat down and began to look around. She had noticed that Julian had a dry erase board with a cork board and the only thing attached to that board was a picture of Julian’s aunt and Hildy’s oldest sister, Franny.

 
Yo pase por mucho, Nene. I’ve gone through a lot in my time.” Before Julian got an opportunity to ask how, Hildy allowed her son to see into her past through her anecdotes.

The “Taboo” in Communities of Color

“You’re a man, not a punk. You handle your shit on your own.”

Yes – this is the first posting and, yes – I am about to get real deep on y’all. Hold on to your favorite wigs, clutch those shiny pearls, and place your best tea cup on top of your most sturdy tea saucer because the cup is about to spilleth. Get ready, get ready…

Let’s talk about mental health, particularly revolving around communities of color. As a man of color, there are a plethora of issues as to why it is so taboo to claim being “depressed” or “possibly having ADD,” but there seems to be one overbearing factor that seems to echo, at least in my mind, over and over again: “You’re a man, not a punk. You handle your shit on your own – others don’t need to get involved in your shit and see your weakness.” And this message, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason why men of color can sometimes be seen as irrational or seemingly “crazy.” Let me go ahead and establish this credibility “right quick.”

I have depression. I know I have depression – I don’t need a counselor to tell me that (however, I do need a counselor to talk to and work through some issues). What you’ll see, most of the time, is that depression can be passed down. You know how your daddy is telling you to “man up?” I bet you that, behind closed doors, daddy goes through depression, too. I KNOW that is the case with my father, but he refuses to acknowledge his mental state – he’ll mask it as “concerns” and not attribute it to his mental health. My mother, on the other hand, takes ownership of her depression and anxiety problems. As a matter of fact, within the past two days, I have helped my mother abate panic attacks that just came randomly (which happens, y’all – these things can be inexplicable). I am positive that I obtained these qualities from them and I recognize that I need help. That’s the big thing here: SEEK OUT HELP.

So, what does my depression look like?  It includes:
– Not having the energy to do anything. I will legitimately lay down and not do anything for a long period of time.
– Feelings of hopelessness.
– Feeling that I am alone, and while I have a great support system, feeling like no one truly understands what I’m going through.
– Anxiety will flare up from time to time (very rare).
– Mind is constantly racing, unable to focus on a single task.
– Dependency on indulges (e.g: food, sex, alcohol, drugs, etc.) to feel better about yourself. My indulgence was sexual interaction – I needed it to make me feel better about myself.

Notice that I didn’t mention suicide. Depression and suicide are not always interrelated – people commit suicide because they are depressed, but do not have to feel suicidal to be depressed. I love life and I love aspects of being alive, but life gets TOUGH. Shit gets REAL. Don’t allow others in your community to obtain the power of telling you that your problem isn’t worth it. Here are things that I have done to make myself better – these may work for you and these may not. These solutions are not blanket solutions and you should be seeking out professional help.

FIRST THING: SEEK OUT PROFESSIONAL HELP
This is a tough thing to do, especially if you are struggling with money. Me, I don’t have insurance, so it’s difficult for me to find mental help without having to fork over money. There are solutions to this though:  This link will take you to a website that allows you to search for health centers that can do income based treatments. Next, if you are feeling absolutely awful and just need someone to talk to, suicidal or not, called the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

NEXT THING: WATCH A FUNNY SHOW
This might sound really stupid, but watch a funny show. Make sure that it is a show that does not require you to think too much and make you feel any other emotion but happy. I love Golden Girls and it makes me laugh, but some of the drama in it makes me sad – that’s not what we want. If you like animated stuff, shows like Bob’s Burgers and Family Guy are good, mindless humor (I’d argue that these shows are incredibly satirical in nature, but don’t allow your mind to go that far – enjoy the surface humor). Also, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is another good show to watch. In the first season, there was a scene that had me CRYIIIIIIN. Allow yourself some happy tears. As I provided you with a preview of this hilarious moment, I started crying laughing again.

AND THEEEEEEN: Find Things YOU LOVE
If you’ve never seen Dude, Where’s My Car?, then you probably don’t get the “AND THEEEEEN” allusion – do us all a favor and go watch that. But seriously, go find things you love that don’t require you to leave the house. For example, I really like video games and when I was heavily focused on my career, I never had time for it. There was a period of time where I just played video games for two weeks straight and I was as happy as a clam. Also, I find solace in writing (hm…I get to educate the masses and use this as a form a therapy, WINNING). Allow yourself to indulge in these things without judgment. I know that if you are living with parents, they might find these activities to be “lazy” or “unmotivated.” Personally, you know your life better than they do. If these activities keep you mentally grounded, that’s dope.

WHAT NEXT: Break Unhealthy Indulgences
Try to do your best to get away from bad habits. If you eat too much junk food, find healthy food that gives you just as much enjoyment. If you drink too much when you’re depressed, find a drink that you really enjoy and limit it to once or twice a week and ONLY when you’ve done some great things (condition yourself to think of alcohol as a reward and not as a depression assuaging substance). If you have sex too much, cut yourself off from sex and stick to a healthy masturbation schedule. Weening away from these things will force you to find better ways to make yourself happy. If you are religious, try to learn more about the roots of your particular system of belief – it will definitely make you firm in what you believe in.

LASTLY: Get OUT!
Nah – I don’t mean escape interracial dating, although, in Pocahontas, we were warned that these white men are dangerous. What I mean is, get out of your normal environment from time to time. Link up with one or two people who you are close to. Go out for a drive with the windows down and the music blasting. Even if it is just running an errand or two, get out of that room and try to force yourself to do something. Chances are you’ll feel better just getting out of the house and putting yourself in a different mindset. Exercising is said to make you feel better (exercising is the devil, which is probably why I am still depressed. LAWL!!!).

Moral of the Story: There are plenty of things YOU can do to overcome your depression, but the number one thing on that list is to GET HELP. Shit – you don’t have to let your people know, just DO IT. Be discrete, if you have to. Don’t let money be an excuse, there are people there willing to help people who don’t have money or don’t have insurance.

You got this. Don’t let members of your community hold you back – you will come out better in the end.