Updated: Sep 20, 2020
I am finally home.
I tried to resist the urge. I was too worried about Mummy and Monica. I said to myself if I have to go a year or more without seeing them, fine - I could do it. They are both in high-risk categories, and I was not willing to take the risk even if they were.
And I think if I was still working and not dealing with my shoulder injury I could have done it.
Though maybe not.
When you are sitting at home and alone with your thoughts, it can be a very lonely place for a person to be. I am an extrovert, but an extrovert who derives his energy from deep human connection.
For those who do not need this sort of connection, it is easy to criticize others when they see people socializing, even if done in a relatively responsible manner.
I suffered through a great deal of depression from the end of high school through medical school. The first time I saw a therapist was in undergrad, but every time I spoke to her and felt I was making progress, it was
She then directed me to a psychiatrist who seemed vastly more interested in prescribing me Paxil for my depression than listening to anything I had to say.
For someone who felt lost, unheard, unseen, to have professionals who seemed to view me more as a nuisance than someone in dire need of their guidance, it was a slap in my face.
And a needle in my heart.
I took those meds for 2 weeks, and then stopped. I felt who I was inside was slowly being taken away from me. My emotions, sad as they were, were still MY emotions. I had to find another way to battle my depression but on my OWN terms.
All through those years, I struggled off and on. I had many moments where I was destructive, and far fewer moments that were constructive. I lost some friends, but some friends became family. And of course, my family's love and support never wavered.
As the infamous Ron Burgundy once said:
"I'M IN A GLASS CAGE OF EMOTION!!!!"
Because I was. Or at least it seemed that way to me.
But through the years, my friends, my real friends, and my family kept putting cracks in that glass. While I was struggling and looking for ways to crawl out of the depths of my sadness, how to break through that cage, my loved ones, unbeknownst to me, kept creating more cracks until parts of the cage finally began to shatter.
And eventually, I was free.
It was then I realized how important connecting with others, in whatever capacity it may be, was essential to my health and well-being.
And though the smiles on my face and the glow in my eyes and the deep belly laughs are all genuine, there is a long history of pain and struggle behind each which I had to overcome.
And at times this year, the pain and struggle have partly resurfaced.
I miss being physically whole. I miss having a consistent feeling of purpose. Writing is an incredible outlet for me, but it does not replace those day-to-day interactions that individually may not have been significant, but where their summation was so much greater than the whole.
And as such, not being able to connect, in addition to being injured, has taken an incredible toll on me mentally.
And Arash, and others, once again bore witness to my tears.
All of this has culminated in my choice to see my family. I feel so much peace being home with my mom and sister, mask on, because they are two people who have shattered more than their fair share of glass in my life. And I feel more whole, more connected, than I have in months.
This is about so much more than just missing hugs.
My own personal "rut" (as I like to put it) is something I share with close friends and family, and not something I tend to share with the world on a regular basis. The reason being I am typically very strong mentally.
But even the strongest can wane. And I am not afraid to open up when I feel the need.
And even if I did not, I know those closest to me are able to look into my eyes and access the depths of this beautiful soul, both in times of joy and in times of despair.
I will continue to be both an advocate for others health, physical AND mental, while still being an advocate for my own health, physical AND mental.
And I do not seek anyone's approval to do so.
I acknowledge I previously downplayed the importance of human connection, and the emotional toll the lack of it imparts, because I always had a steady stream of it in the past, even during the height of the COVID crisis. But just as it is easy to downplay systemic racism when it does not directly impact you, it does not mean it does not exist.
I am truly sorry.
However, this does not mean I am advocating others stop being socially responsible. Social distancing measures and wearing masks and avoiding mass gatherings are still essential. Lives are still at stake.
But I take to heart the words the late Justice Antonin Scalia shared about his close friend, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, his ideological opposite. He had bought her two dozen roses to give to her for her birthday, but when challenged what good would that do given she had never provided a 5-4 vote on his side of any significance, he said:
"Some things are more important than votes."
And connecting with my family and close friends are more important than some individuals "votes" regarding my choices.
Before anyone asks, I am TOTALLY fine! I super-duper promise. And I am because I listen to what my heart needs, even when my brain wants to overrule it, or when people, unaware of my struggles, think they know all.
When they actually know shit.
I know I am lucky; I am fortunate to have an extremely strong and tight-knit support group. And I am secure in my masculinity to let out a good, cathartic cry when needed.
But if you do not care to pay attention, many of the people who you believe have bright smiles, glowing eyes, and deep laughs may instead be on the verge of deep frowns, heavy tears, and wails so deep they could chill your soul.
People who are not okay. Who feel they have no support. Who feel they have nowhere to turn.
So I truly hope people consider the following:
Seek to understand, not to judge.
Lead with kindness, not cruelty.
Your eyes CAN deceive you.
The needs of another may be different than your needs, but no less important.
A person's beliefs or actions or choices do not make the woman or the man.
The heart does.
The two late justices may have been at odds when it came to the laws of the land and their impact on our nation as a whole.
But most importantly, they recognized
The laws of humanity reign most important of all.
*Shared in support of National Suicide Prevention Month*
*Seek help if needed. Your family and friends love you and need you and are here to support you even if you believe otherwise. There are MANY great therapists and psychiatrists out there. Please do not hesitate to call the number below, or to reach out if you need support. I am here for you ❤️.*
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255) https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org