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HisVoice: Surviving with depression



*Photo by Carla Zuill

Bermuda, an island that is considered by most a paradise, a place like no other. The people and architecture are the epitome of beautiful. As you walk the streets you see smiles of people from various races and backgrounds.
When you glance at the surface everything, seems so picture perfect.

But do not be fooled because behind many of those smiling faces there are ticking time bombs ready to explode. There is a dark cloud lingering over many Bermudians’ heads that most don’t want to acknowledge—mental illness—an issue that gets brushed aside and not being truly looked at as a major epidemic effecting this 21 square mile island.

The number of people walking around this island with mental health issues is staggering and most people numb their pain with alcohol, marijuana and more often than not, both. Remember that saying, “Bermudians Like to Drink”?

I bet almost half of those Bermudians are drinking to release the pain they are dealing with. How many times you hear our people talking about they are getting a ‘liquid lunch’ or drinks after work because of stress.

You will more than likely hear that between three and five times per week. I will be the first person to say I was a big culprit of this. I would go to bars and have cold beers in the fridge for when I got home. There were even times I went to work with a good ole screw driver (vodka and orange). Vodka was the alcohol of choice at work because it was odourless.
The mask we show to the world is as clear as day. But since many of us wear these masks so often, we just pretend that they don’t exist.

Openly talking about mental health in our homes and close-knit communities is almost unheard of. If you’re a male like myself, you don’t dare tell anyone you are depressed. You are considered less than or weak by everyone around you. So, like many others I just put on that brave face and smile and laugh through my pain. But the hole you dig for yourself gets deeper and deeper.
I remember expressing once I was feeling depressed and a close friend of mines told me don’t ever post that on social media again because people will judge me. So, at one point I started pretending that everything was okay.

Bottling up these emotions could be hard for a person to deal with. Speaking from experience, the pressure of doing this becomes unbearable and you inevitably explode, which leads to you to hurting yourself and others around you. If we look at how many of our Black brothers and sisters are self-harming and causing harm to others, there is a high chance they are dealing with some sort of trauma that has led to mental health issues.

In my short 30 plus-years on this world I have attempted suicide 11 times. After around the seventh time I received professional help.

From that point I accepted that I suffered from Bipolar Depression and this stemmed from multiple traumas I endured growing up on this island.

Trauma ranging from neglect, abandonment, physical abuse and even sexual abuse at the hands of an older cousin at the tender age of five. I had to work through these issues and from there I gathered the strength to try and do better for myself. It wasn’t an easy road and I slipped and fell many times. But I knew I had someone who was a professional to help me get back up on my feet. I started to become more spiritual and grew closer to God in my journey because I knew I wasn’t going to be a complete package if I didn’t work on my spiritual side.

Since finally accepting my illness I started to work and grow to become a better person for myself first and foremost. I am working on no longer putting other people’s needs before mines. I am glad to give advice and talk to people I am closest with, who are struggling with their own issues. The key advice I give them is seek help from a professional because unlike your friends, they will give you tools to equip yourself for the world. Your growth can only begin when you finally accept you need to change for the better.

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