One Black Man’s Story
WRITER MYCHAL DENZEL SMITH IS ONE OF THOUSANDS OF BROTHERS TO EXPERIENCE THE PAIN OF DEPRESSION…AND ONE OF THE ONES BRAVE ENOUGH TO SHARE HIS STORY
It’s hard to answer the question “what’s wrong” when nothings right.
But staring in the mirror, wondering how much blood there would be if I bashed my head against it, wasn’t normal. Sitting at the dinner table thinking about taking the knife I’m using to cut my steak to slit my wrists, wasn’t normal. Something was missing.
I had thought about suicide before, but never in any real way. It was always a “what if?” Now, it had become a “maybe I should…” I learned firsthand what the true meaning of the word “depression” was.
Something was missing, but I had no idea what.
I “got over” it though. I moved past it. I never spoke a word of it to anyone. I was “better.”
Two years later, I wasn’t just “better”, I thought I was completely “cured.” I spent the summer in Atlanta working a well-paying internship, going to concerts every week, meeting some of my heroes, just enjoying life.
Then I bought the Gnarls Barkley album, St. Elsewhere. I was taken aback. I realized I wasn’t too far removed from the space Cee-Lo was singing from. The isolation, the helplessness, the feeling of being trapped inside your own mind and it being locked from the outside and there is no one around to pick the key up from under the welcome mat to let you out…these feelings were all too familiar. I never spoke a word of it to anyone. No matter. Cee-Lo was doing that for me.
There’s a song toward the middle of the album called “Just a Thought” that is a hauntingly accurate description of what goes through a person’s mind while suffering from severe depression. Each verse ends with the phrase “…and I tried, everything but suicide, but it crossed my mind.” I could only nod silently in agreement as he belted out the most secret of my thoughts for the whole world to hear.
- high school
- bassey ikpi
- gnarls barkley
- being alone
- suicide thoughts
- st elsewhere
- severe panic attacks
- gil scott-heron
- john coltrane