TRIGGER WARNING This article or section, or pages it links to, contains information about sexual assault, substance abuse, and self-harm, suicide, which may be triggering to survivors.
June, 6th 2014 the day I lost my best friend Julian Antonio McKinnon. I was in New York at the time and I didn’t know he was gone until a friend messaged me. When I found out how I was devastated. The only memories that I have of Julian are great ones. We were in band together. He was my section leader. We would skip school together. One time we left school during lunch. Julian was a fan of drifting, well he hit the corner to hard and we jumped the curb. We ruined his dad’s car. Julian was a thrill seeker as was I. Our relationship was never dull to say the least. One night we drove through down town and egged people as they were walking in to the bars. We then drove through the car wash backwards to get any egg off of his own car. He came to visit me in New York City, the only friend who did. We spent an entire week together just having fun. We witnessed the ball drop together on New Years. Julian was always happy. He always went above and beyond to make others feel better. He was the best friend you could ask for. He was funny but goofy funny at times. He would make these “Real men of genius” parody videos. You would have never known that there was an internal struggle. Looking back, the signs were there but I didn’t know what they were until I went through my own struggle with depression.
Summer of 2016 is when I went through the most trying time of my life. It began when my appendix ruptured. I was in and out of the hospital for 3 months. I was on 5 antibiotics a day with a PICC line. I was broke, I had just started my business. I came down to Texas to heal and relax a bit before I went back into the dog eat dog, rat race of NYC. While I was down here my relationship of 6 years ended. It was very painful. The low self esteem and self worth that I had suppressed from childhood experiences resurfaced.
I felt my life had no worth and it began to reflect in my actions. I blacked out in Chicago. Security had to escort me to my room. I was coping with drugs and alcohol. I was feeling suicidal. I didn’t want to leave my family and friends with the same feelings of emptiness and unanswered questions.
I reached out to Steve. That was the best decision of my life. Steve happened to be going through the master’s program at Columbia, with the aims of being a clinical therapist. Steve encouraged me to seek professional help. I went to a local clinic and began to seek therapy. It was going well until my childhood friend decided that he also no longer wanted to be a part of my life.
Here I was trying to get a hang of myself and I felt like everyone was getting as far away from me as possible. When dealing with someone who is going through depression and suicidal thoughts, it’s important that you NEVER EVER EVER give up on them. It’s a commitment you must take on full time. I had nobody local to help me but Steve, who was 2,500 miles away. If it wasn’t for Steve’s loyalty I wouldn’t be here. Each time the suicidal thoughts arose, I would call Steve and as always, he encouraged me to go to the hospital. I went to the ER, but they referred me to another facility where I was able to get help.
I was diagnosed as Bipolar II and everything began to make sense, the mania, the depression. The fluctuations in my behavior. In dealing with my diagnosis and losing everyone around that meant something to me. I decided that I would make an effort to become the best version of myself.
This meant dealing, for the first time, with the years of physical and sexual assault that I endured as a child. Learn how to heal properly or the wounds of the past bleed into the present. The pain was raw, but you can’t heal what you don’t reveal. I started working through it and processing the pain. It wasn’t easy. I was still dealing with the emotions by coping with drugs and alcohol, which was only making the situation worse. You see we drink until the pain is over but what’s worse, the pain or the hangover?
Keeping my commitment to myself. I kept fighting and made it a point to heal from this pain. A few months into therapy, after I revealed a lot of my experiences. The man who assaulted me was released from prison. I didn’t know if I could find it in myself to forgive him. I felt that he didn’t deserve to be free. I started having flashbacks of the assault. Again the suicidal thoughts arose. I tried to strangle myself. I tried to take pills. I ended up checking myself into the hospital for depression. Never did I stop going to therapy, letting the pain out was helping significantly. I could see the changes in my mindset, it was changing the cycle of self-sabotaging behavior that was the problem. I ended up going through rehab to get myself of the drugs. I sought every form of help that I could.
Through my commitment to myself. I was able to experience self-growth and become a person that I am comfortable living with. Whatever situation you are experiencing is temporary, nothing in life is permanent. There will always be better days. Find someone you can rely on and fight like it means the rest of your life. Never be ashamed to reach out for help. It’s what saved my life. There is no shame is seeking help. It doesn’t make you weak. In fact, it proves your strength and shows tremendous feats of courage. Only in the darkness can you see the stars.