Mental Health Day?

It’s crazy, I came into work yesterday morning and was informed by one of my coworkers that they were having the funeral for one of my other coworker’s father today. Y’all get all that?

She also let me know that our team was going to the funeral to support him and send condolences. Um, ok, it looks like all of us are going. Soooo, just like that, I’m going to a funeral.

This didn’t really bother me to be honest. Mainly because I have a simple view on death, it’s inevitable. My only issue was that I wasn’t dressed appropriately for a funeral. Little did I know that they do things a little differently up here in regards to dressing at funerals apparently.

So as I got to the church, I went up to my coworker, dapped him up, patted him on his back and told him that I was sorry for his loss. I then got the funeral program and read about his father and looked at the pictures. One of my other coworkers asked me if I wanted to view the body but I declined. I didn’t know his father and I was just there to support.

As I stood outside of the church I began to reflect a little bit. It was somewhat ironic because my coworker was burying his father, just as I had to do 15 years ago. From what I gathered he seemed to be handling it as well as you could. He wasn’t outwardly emotional and he seemed to be in good spirits. He even said a few words which was something that I couldn’t do at my father’s funeral. Hell, all I did was just sit there zoned out and blank the entire time.

I imagine the differences were that my coworker was more mature. I mean, I had just turned 21 and my coworker was in his late 40’s. There was also the fact that my father died suddenly in a car accident and my coworker’s father had been sick. As I continued to sit there and reflect I thought about the other ways that I dealt with or handled my father’s death. I suppose I should give something of a backstory.

I act, look and sound like my father. He was strict as hell, always had some annoying ass lesson or message to share and made me go everywhere with him. He was a flawed but good man and to be honest I didn’t really like him as a person until I became a teenager and he lightened up a little. He was the person I always confided in and in his waning years he used to confide in me. It wasn’t like the normal, “hey I’m going through x,y,z what do you think or let’s discuss” conversation. Instead, we would just call each other occasionally or talk on my ride home from college about sports or random stuff that had nothing to do with our actual issues. I could be struggling in school with assignments and I would call my Dad and he would ask if I’m ok. I would say yes, then talk about how I hooped in the gym playing pick up ball. Then he would say whatever he had to say, tell me to take it easy, we would hang up and I would feel better lol. Same shit with him. If he and my Mom were beefin he would call me sometimes just to talk about some random stuff, usually his sorry Minnesota Vikings or the NBA and we would chat and I would tell him to take it easy and that was that. It doesn’t make sense looking at it in hindsight but it worked for us.

I guess I should also explain how he died. Long story short, my father volunteered to cover someones shift last minute (pop was a workaholic) and while driving back had an accident with an 18 wheeler running over his car, that led to him dying a few days later. I’m not sure who was exactly at fault, maybe my Dad fell asleep or maybe it was the truck driver but the end result was my father dying at 48.

So as continued sitting there reflecting I thought about how I handled my father’s death. My first obstacle was the guilt. I always felt guilty because my father wanted to have a 21st birthday dinner with me just a few days before his accident and I declined because I knew I was coming home that weekend from summer school and the other reason was that I was finally getting “some” consistently and I wanted to spend my evening and night drinking and fornicating, two things I couldn’t do if my parents were in town smh lol. So basically I turned down my last chance spending time with my father for some pussy. Hell, I still regret that to this day. The person that I am now, however, would have handled that differently. I would have just taken that lesson and applied it to my everyday life. Sadly, the 21-year-old me decided to handle it differently by drinking, partying, binge eating and being reckless.

Having “fun” and being drunk numbed the pain. It numbed it so much that I would forget. I mean, when you black out or you are passed out drunk you can’t think about your father being dead or think about how you were selfish and chose lust over family.

Did you know that 10/10 was like World Mental Health Day? Hell, me either but as I look back at that time of my life I was really struggling mentally. It’s funny because looking back at it I thought that I was just sad and grieving but when you look up and 2 years later you quit school, you been drunk every week for basically 18 months and you are living recklessly you realize it may be deeper than being sad, your ass is depressed, severely.

Now it just wasn’t my father’s passing I dealt with, I lost two younger cousins to gun violence in that period of time along with other’s passing and I just couldn’t seem to cope. Now eventually I snapped out of it. Thanks to my sister who probably nagged me into being and doing better, I guess my Momma praying, (that’s what she tells me anyway lol) some near-death moments, my upbringing, writing and friends helping me realize that I was doing too much.

I was one of the lucky ones. I imagine that if I would have just sought professional help that could have worked too and possibly quicker. Lol and that’s the thing, we all know the stigma in some of our communities or circles that come with mental health or better yet seeking professional help. Which is funny because if you are sick you go to the doctor. Same applies if you are emotionally or mentally sick, there are doctor’s for that as well. Go to them, get help.

I mentioned my mother saying her prayer helped and yes prayer helps for the religious folks but I imagine the person you pray to also created these doctors who can help diagnose and treat what is wrong with you also. There is also a passage in the Bible, James 2:14-26, that we hear from time to time that basically means, “faith without works is dead”. So yes, pray, ask that things get better but also do your part and go get professional help. Yes, you can do both.

So because of the way my ego is set up I feel like I am strong mentally. I do occasionally have bouts of depression but I feel like writing, working out, meditation, maybe talking to my sister or friends or sleeping always help it. FYI, sleep never helps. The other things I mentioned earlier tend to help get me back on track but I often wonder if I am just being too prideful or naive. I imagine that will be the next step in the progression of me as a man. Maybe one day building the courage to actually use this insurance that I pay for monthly to get therapy one day… sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, I want to just take a second to say that I admire every person who is able to admit that they need help and actually seek it. It’s amazing how courageous you are. Like to be able to break down and say “I need help” and actually go out and get it? Amazing. I just hope that more of us, myself included will continue to follow your lead.

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