My Journey with Mental Health


I started to show signs after my beloved grandmother Dorothea Derrickson passed away two days before my 11th birthday. It was a shock to wake up to my aunt comforting my mom and hear my aunt tell me the news. I had no idea what that meant. Because I was young and didn't comprehend it. My mom sat us down and explained what it meant and that she was in heaven with God. My mom did a good job explaining it to me, seeing how she had just lost her mom. From there, I started school, and I was teased and bullied. All because I was cheering for the teachers at a student vs. teachers basketball game. I had a rock thrown at my head; I was called faggot, gaywad, homo, and was asked if I really was a girl. Plus, I had stopped playing sports since I had moved to New Jersey. Because everyone, even the kids were very competitive, and it turned me off on sports. I was not too fond of gym class with a passion, plus I wasn't comfortable getting changed in front of people. I didn't want them to have yet another thing for them to pick on me for. All they have to do is see the color of my underwear, my belly rolls, and whatever. They take it and run with it. I hated it. Teachers told me to speak to them, but I didn't know how to vocalize. I was broken by these strangers judging me and not knowing me. I was the new kid in school whose grandmom just died and is being bullied for being different. I was being called gay by classmates. I had no idea what gay meant. In elementary school, I had crushes on girls. I was just confused about what they were talking about. As I moved from elementary school to middle school, that was the game-changer.

On my first day of middle school, 7th grade and I had a locker, class schedule and moved from one class to the next. I walked to the back of the building where the cafeteria was. This guy, who was a junior in high school, was walking in front of me. He looked back at me, and that was the end of it. I fell in love with him, and He had the health class across from my computer class. Whenever I went to the printer, he was there he would look at me. I would turn fifty shades of red. I wasn't what was going on; he would look at me, and boom, I blush. He would giggle and smile. He wasn't the only one I had a crush on. There were a couple of guys... a shocker; they all were straight. I started to realize that I wasn't straight. One day in middle school, with my lunch bag dangling off my wrist, I said to my friends at the time. "Guys, I think I am gay." They looked at each other and said in unison. "Well fucking duh!" Like I had finally realized something they had known. Everyone knew it; even my straight guy friends knew it didn't bother them at all. I was still Brian, nothing different. Well, they knew I wasn't checking them out. My eyes were on my crushes. Now my 8th-grade year, the gay gods must have tried to test me because my locker was right next to the boy's locker room. Except when the door opened, it blocked my view. But it was okay because I still had a view. Plus, my crushes would hang around near my locker, which to me was heaven, hot, young men. I would look at them and pretend I wasn't and gather my things needed and go to my next class. I was still dealing with the bullying but not as much. It was mostly from stupid lower classmen who were going nowhere in life. I didn't realize that in my silence, things were mounting and building up. It was setting the stage for some crazy things. When I was nearing the end of high school. I had no idea what to do. Should I go to school? Or work? All I knew the military was out. My two older brothers had enlisted, and it was at the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. My mom agreed with me; they have my older siblings they don't need. Also, the military had this policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which was the gay ban in the military. Everyone in my family was pressuring me; you got to do this, you got to do that; it is what family events became in my eyes. Bash Brian. For a time, I stopped attending family events. Because I was fed up with it, and I was just messed up.

It was in middle school I found something that brought me more joy than I ever thought. It was writing. It started when I had formed or made multiple attempts to form a music group with my friends. But failed at it, which was okay because I started to write. And the things I wrote in the beginning were just crap. But you have to start somewhere. I wrote poetry, which was just one stanza. I grew into a whole page now; my poetry spans multiple pages. But I never once thought I was good; I just loved writing. Imagine in College Prep English I; one of our first assignments was a writing assignment. I wrote a story, and we presented them in class. I shocked everyone with a great story. I was encouraged to keep writing because I was good at it. Then the first day of CP English II, I had the same teacher for in-class support. I was a special education student being mainstreamed. She told my English teacher at the time, "Brian is a great writer; you should read some of his stuff." I had the same two English teachers; one was my creative writing teacher. They both encouraged me to keep writing; after I graduated, I kept on writing. Without knowing it at the time, it was my saving grace. Because I didn't realize how dark into a depressive hole I was in. But I couldn't find a job regardless of what I did. Yet hearing the bashing Brian, you aren't trying hard enough; you aren't this or that. At some point, I landed a job, and that became the distraction. In fact, it was the start of my relationship with avoidance, even to this day at 36 years old, almost 37. I tend to avoid my thoughts and things because I forget to face things. I get distracted by life just like everyone. I am working on breaking up with avoidance. Because it has allowed me to pile things up and forget them and, in a way, became my defense mechanism. Honestly, I don't need it.

I realized I was Bipolar depressed and would have full-blown anxiety that made me have a freak-out. But I never had medical insurance to go to the doctors to get diagnosed. Please don't ever think you can't get help. You can get over your pride and the stigma and ask for help. I was also coming into my spiritual gifts. Which twisted everything in crazy, now people will think I'm crazy talking and seeing dead people, which is why I didn't go to a doctor. I was afraid they would say I should be committed and locked away. That was the last thing I needed in my life. I suffered many years and over two decades with bipolar depression and anxiety. Years later, I found out that depression is genetic, which made sense to me seeing how some of my family are depressed. My grandmom had suffered from depression and, at the end of her life, sign a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), which I had to come to peace with. But when I got medical insurance, I started to see a neurologist. I told her and talked about it; even when I applied for disability, they had me meet with a psychologist. I have proof of my diagnosis. My neurologist put me on meds that are to help with other medical issues. I'm on an antidepressant and anti-anxiety meds for other issues. It has helped me in both cases. Sometimes the meds make me feel numb emotionally, but I still take time to process my emotions and what is going on. I am learning to be a detached observer when seeing what happened in the past and how it's connected to my now. Taking time to journal every day and writing out how I feel my triggers and dreams. My love for writing has been a strong one. Even with my spiritual healing work, it has been the key for me to channel and actually see the puzzle pieces. Even now, with insurance, it's hard finding a doctor or even with the apps. It's costly out of pocket. But I do have a strong support system. I am lucky, and others aren't as lucky. But I hope my story encourages you to get help. Get over your pride, ask for help. It's not just your life you are saving; it's your loved ones. You may not see it or feel it, but you are loved and enough.

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