Depression is Real…

I just found out the singer, Chester Bennington, from the group Linkin Park committed suicide. If you are not familiar with the group this may not bother you, but for me this hurts. I discovered Linkin Park in 2000 through my then-boyfriend. He didn’t know it at the time but when he popped Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory CD on, the tracks spoke to me. I was depressed. I was also in denial. I knew something didn’t feel right with me but I kept it to myself because I didn’t want to appear weak or whiny. I pushed on and pushed through and through the music I was able to hide my feelings with a smile.

Earlier this year a good friend of mine, Chris Collins, committed suicide. Right after the New Year started. He spent the last twenty years of his life fighting for equality in the LGTBQ community here in Philadelphia. Fighting for those who felt they had no voice to be heard and yet he felt no one heard his voice. Losing him hurt, especially like that. He was one of the first friends I made in high school as an awkward teenager and his friendship helped me through a lot of dark days over that initial four years. He didn’t realize how much he meant to those around him that he had touched over the years.

See, depression does that. It creeps into your mind and takes root into all of your memories, old and new, and tries to twist them this way and that. Depression loves to feast on the negative memories. Those memories are like protein shakes, making the depression stronger and harder to shake. Constantly whispering how bad you suck at life and reasons why bad things happen in your life. Depression is the voice of evil whether you want to believe in it or not.

But even with all of the infomercials and poster boards describing the symptoms of depression, many people ignore the obvious because once you acknowledge something you become responsible for how you react to it. Imagine if everyone actually paid attention to how their loved ones were feeling. The slightest deviation from their normal behavior would be an initial clue that something isn’t right. As a friend or loved one it only makes sense to inquire if everything is okay. Because I know what depression feels like and I had to wrestle with that beast head on to reclaim myself, I can spot subtle changes in those around me (even my co-workers). So naturally, I’ll ask if everything is alright. I let the individual know that if they need anything to let me know and then I quietly observe them without being obvious.

Why do I do this? Because I do for others what I wish had been done for me. I have survived the darkest part of my depression, I haven’t completely conquered it but I have learned how to manage it so I understand wholly what it feels like. Some people will twist their faces and proclaim that you’ll be institutionalized if depression or the hint of it is mentioned, but that is due to misinformation and fear. Once we stop reacting on the basis of fear and find out the facts, then we as a collective can help prevent someone we know from succumbing to their depression.

Black Without Apology

Too many times I have encountered individuals who behave as though only they have a right to exist on this planet. As big as this rock is… really? I can’t say I’m surprised with 45 fueling the flames. But I was inspired by the words I’ve been reading on here tonight. I wrote this poem, Black Without Apology, as an in your face call out to those who are closed-minded about anyone who is different:

Does my skin offend you?

Has my DNA mocked you?

Has my resilience taunted your very existence, pushing you to hate me?

Does my intelligence frighten

the very idea of your

subsistence on the degradation of my genetic make-up?

I guess nightmares and dreamscapes of terror

encourage you to intake artificial courage

to defile the image of my being

solely because you can’t bear

your child-mind of feeling inferior,

that gestating seed of uncertainty

that gnaws at your immorality

while you justify your (lack of) humanity

to your brotherhood of nonsensical brethren…

But I digress…

Your inability to come to terms with your ideas of the world

belong to YOU.

I am my melanated self because I am

and always will be

Black without apology.

– Why Yet 4/3/17

It’s National Poetry Month 2017!

Poetry month has returned again. I always find myself enthralled reading other’s words and feeling surprise at someone being enthralled by my own.

Don’t misunderstand me. I LOVE my works. My poetry is my therapy – therefore it is very personal and raw for me. Which makes me shy and proud to share it.

The first poem I remember having to memorize was Langston Hughes’ A Dream Deferred. I didn’t understand that poem at the age of ten but it stirred something in me. That quiet stirring continued until I read Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman

Maya Angelou’s passion ignited the stirring in me and I began to slowly release my words onto paper. Not ever did I think, “I’m going to publish these poems and sell books.” But here I am, poetry collection published, writing more for another collection and pondering what to do next.

But every April for thirty solid days I am reminded, by myself and other poetry friends acquired over the years, that all poetry has beauty in it and speaks to someone somewhere.

Poetry is appreciation of life in the raw. Simple. Elegant. Rough. Raw. Love. Hurt. Deppressed. Happy. Excited. Sad. Mournful. Erotic. You get where I’m going with this.

Should you be a poet or know poets, show them some love this month. Read, share and/or review some of their work. Let them know their words mean something to you. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing and expressing my emotional transitions for all who choose to enjoy them!

Self-Discovery… Again

I have been away for a little bit… (okay maybe a lot) but I’ve missed you all. I was being crushed by the daily grind of my nine-to-five. Argh! Inspiration has been non-existent for me this last year as the realities of raising small children has tried to smother the creativity out of me. But you guys held firm and I thank you!

By you guys, I mean all of you creative, crafty, unorthodox-thinking, out-of-the-box thinking free spirits. You show up exactly when you’re needed the most, be it on social media or in the super market.

I’ve come out of hibernation and began turning my thoughts back to the creative things because of you guys. Writers, photographers, comedians, actors, strangers, friends, co-workers… all of you have aligned together to drag me out of this dark slump of… reality. I was beginning to believe that putting in ten-twenty years at my current gig would be the greatest thing I could do to ensure my children could grow up without needing anything.

WRONG!

I like my job, it’s a steady paycheck that keeps the lights on and food in our stomachs but you guys have reminded me that there is so much more out here in the land of make-believe and “fake news”. Yeah – I was dying to use that line, hahaha. No, but really.

Now, more than ever, creatives are NEEDED and seeing this need has made me re-think how I want my children to grow up… as creatives. I’ve learned over these last few weeks that I miss going to open mic nights, I miss laughing for no reason, making funny faces…

I want to face my fears and challenge myself and experience that thrill of fear and accomplishment. Just in the last thirty days I have been reacquainted with that thrill. I’ve had to drive a SMART car on I-95, Kelly Drive aka Martin Luther King Jr Drive, and the PA Turnpike for my nine-to-five. Prior to this gig I had not EVER driven on any of these roads in Philadelphia. My co-worker got me on two of them in the same day! And in a SMART car no less! Talk about being scared out of my mind! But that familiar rush of fear mixed with adrenaline kicked in because there was no turning back (I was in the company car) and once I parked back at the job I felt so accomplished. I loved it and had forgotten how good it felt to CONQUER fear.

In your self discovery, what fear(s) have you conquered recently? Answer in the comments.

brownlipstickpoppin

October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Many times when October rolls around many people are thinking about Columbus Day, Halloween, domesticviolenceawarenessThanksgiving and Christmas plans. Many times the quiet woman nursing bruises is overlooked. The timid woman in the office is ignored. The mother who averts her gaze when picking her child up from school is mistaken for being stuck up. Many times this is not the case. Many times she is trying her hardest to avoid abuse at home should she not return fast enough, should she be caught or suspected to interact with others. Our job as a community is to learn what the warning signs of domestic violence looks like. Our job is to speak up and speak out to end the cycle of domestic violence in our communities.

The media always portrays domestic violence as always being physical violence, like when Rhianna’s image flew across the internet after Chris Brown abused her. Yes, that is domestic violence but that is not the only form it comes in. Because society believes that is the only face of domestic violence many women stay silent for fear of being ridiculed and judged for not resembling Rhianna. In all cases of domestic violence the dvam imagebeginning stages include emotional and psychological manipulation. Loving words and gestures while slowly, methodically, and quietly separating the prey from any and all forms of outside support, i.e. friends, family, loved ones. Once the separation is complete then the loving words turn into judgments, put-downs, insults, ridicule and cruelty. The longer this stage is allowed to continue unchecked and unchallenged the more dangerous the situation becomes. In the most dangerous cases sexual and physical abuse begins.

Recognize the mental and psychological abuse: “You’re fat. Nobody’s gonna want your fat ass!”; “You didn’t have anything when I met you!”; “Everything you have is because of me!”; “I saw you looking at that person, so I know you slept with them!”; “You ain’t shit! Everything you think is an idea that came from me!”; “If you try to leave me I will call the police and have you arrested!”; “But baby I said those things because I love you. I NEED you! I can’t be without you!”¬†Other forms of domestic violence include financial abuse, and sexual abuse. Being in a relationship does not entitle anyone to sex. NO means NO! Another misconception is that only women get abused. It is rare but men can also be victims of domestic violence too. Recognize the signs, ask careful questions, lend a listening ear and offer genuine help. Especially when children are involved. Children learn what they live. If you or someone you care about is in an abusive situation call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (from a secure phone line) for help: 1-800-799-7233

Domestic Violence Awareness
Domestic Violence Awareness