I think it's important to look back on your life, to see where you came from and how you ended up where you ended up. Maybe it'll give closure or maybe it'll just be a stepping stone to move past the past. Or maybe it'll do nothing at all.
I was born on a small island; a land with a buttery sun, golden sand and mighty sea. My parents married young and were probably too young to be having children, but there they were with three kids in a house with no lights and no running water and very little food. They did what they could, I'm sure they did, and from the stories I heard as a kid, they were happily married. I try to remember those times, the times when they were happy, but there's nothing there. All those memories are dust just like their marriage. I can remember little things. I remember playing with my brothers, carefree and full of impossible dreams. We use to be the best of friends and I guess all siblings start out that way, but it isn't necessarily how it ends...in the end. I also remember that one time my dad took me fishing. He made a homemade fishing rod out of a can and on that trip I accidentally dropped it into the sea. He never took me again. I remember the walks with my parents. The trips to the beach. It was good for a time even though our living conditions were not but good things never lasted, at least not for most people cursed into a life of misfortune. My entire childhood was one of silence and isolation. Besides my brothers, I never had any friends. I spent all of my Primary school days not speaking. All day, everyday, I never spoke a word. Looking back now, that should have been the first sign but no one noticed or maybe back then they weren't equipped too. They thought I was just shy, but I think I was just scared, and I don't know why. I was anxious, always looking over my shoulder for some unseen evil. I'm still the same to this day. I mean, I talk a lot more but I'm always checking for the unseen. Always worried. Forever alone.
I think my parents divorced when I was 3 or 4 years old. They don't even remember or maybe they don't care too. Their stories about why they split up differs, and I guess there are truths somewhere in both. What I got from all the stories is this: my father had an affair that ended with a child. After the divorce my mom stuck around for a while, but she didn't see a future on our happy little island. She wanted more. Mom wanted better. I guess that was the reason she chose to leave us behind and start a new life overseas. Time was different as a child, but I felt like years before she finally brought us with her. Still, all I cared about was that she left us behind. But she left us in good hands, so I guess I should be grateful, right?
My gran gran cared for us until I was 12 years old. It was a rocky start. A lot of back and fourth bickering between her and my dad, but those moments with her were some of the best times in my life. She never smiled, but she was strong and protective and fierce and funny when she let her guard down. If anyone tried to hurt us in anyway gran gran was murderous. I remember being bullied once in primary school, but it was a fleeting moment. Gran stomped that out with her size 11 foot when she found out. I remember her giant hands around the collar of the kids shirt as she brought her face to his. She said, "I want you to see her but don't see her from now on." Those were her exact words. No one bullied me again. They were all scared of gran gran. I couldn't blame them either. In a country with mostly Afro-Caribbean people, a six feet tall white lady must have been frightening. When she died I think all of me died with her. There is rot around my heart. Her absence hit me so hard in the gut that I fell and never got up. Right up till the end she use to call me every Sunday with the rest of her kids. I never missed a Sunday call...until it was her last. It still haunts me to this day. I remember her number flashing on my screen and then swiping the call away. I told myself I would call her later or text her when I got home but I never got the chance. That was my last chance. She was gone. No more Sunday phone calls and stories about her time as a child. No more staying up past midnight watching Everybody Loves Raymond on her yearly visits. No more advice on life, or wise words of wisdom. It's been almost 4 years since she died but I still remember her laugh. I remember her voice. I remember her face. I remember her. I will always remember her.
Losing a loved one in death is such a painful experience. Maybe that is why I am still here even though everyday I feel hollow. When I look in the mirror there is nothing behind my eyes. I try and I try and I try to hang on even though my fingers are slipping and the blood from my fingernails is running down my arm and the weight on my shoulders is a planet. I keep going to work even though I lose my soul everyday. Even though at the end of every shift I am emotionally broken. People are always saying to quit and find a new job but it's hard to do that when your skin isn't the "right" colour. That's what they tell you, isn't it? They say it so much until it sticks and it's all you believe. They say if you don't look a certain way you don't matter, so you take whatever you can get just to survive, just to put food on the table and a roof over your head. My job is another planet on my shoulder. It is a cold place with no heart and no soul. Everyday I anxiously have to make quota and after 4 years of this rate madness my everyday life feels like I also have to make quota. I shower too fast, shovel food in my mouth until I am choking. My thoughts run a thousand miles an hour. Everything in my life is now about making rate. I don't know how to slow down, not just in my day to day actions but also in my mind. Even as I type this my fingers are flying over the keyboard. I cannot slow down. I will never know peace again. I hope my gran gran found peace. I hope I find it someday too.
Family is suppose to mean power and love. When the world is against you, your family is suppose to stand right beside you. They're suppose to strap on their armour and join you at the front line, ready to battle, ready to lead each other to victory. But my family is not like that and I suspect most aren't. We failed gran gran and now we continue to fail each other. Recently my family and I were homeless, hopping around from motel to motel, living out of our cars while our other family members were nice and warm in their houses and apartments. We were never offered a floor to sleep on, no emotional support or a phone call just to see how we were doing. We got nothing. I thought blood is suppose to be thicker than water. But that's a lie. A myth. When they needed us we were always there, but when it was our turn everyone just ghosted. I suppose that was my fault. I should have asked, but not everyone can, can they? Not everyone has the strength to crawl to safety, or to reach out for the life boat when they are drowning. My head is barely above water. Deep-sea creatures are snapping at me feet. I keep looking for someone to save me but it is just a damn waste of time. I know that gran gran was looking for someone to save her. No one did. I know she suffered with anxiety and depression her whole life, and in the end I know that's what killed her. It could have been prevented. It should have. The signs were there. Everyone thinks that once you have a family of your own, you can just turn your back on the ones that gave you life or grew up with you or shared your trials and your suffering, but that's not true, it's just not. Starting a family just means you can add on to the one you already have. You're adding to that power, to that army, to that love.
Anxiety or depression is not a choice. It is not a switch someone can turn on and off at will. It is a curse. A plague. A festering sore. People who suffer with it scream in silence. They pray for help or medicine to cure. Most of the time nothing works. Nothing helps. Other times it feels okay for a while. It feels like maybe you can breathe again, but it is just hanging out below the surface, waiting for the slightest nudge to drag you under again. It is like gangrene. It spreads and spreads, rotting you from the inside out.
I guess what I'm saying is, you can help. Stop telling people they will get over it if they try because they do try, every damn day. Stop treating them like they are weak because how can they be weak when they are carrying planets? They fight to survive everyday and they are winning. The stigma surrounding mental issues is the reason people do not get help. Just because you don't understand something doesn't give you the right to make people feel like they are looking for attention, or overreacting or crazy. The problem is that no one cares. That's what needs to change. That's what needs to get better...or no one ever will.