Laces Out: Chokeslammed by Suicidal Thoughts & Depression
by Greyson "Haji P." Davis
First of all, I think America may’ve acted a bit too hastily with the repeal of Separate but Equal Laws. Second; I should’ve just gone to Bea Arthur’s whimsical wiener party. Third; remember that heart-wrenching scene in Titanic, where Jack was all “Hey, girl, I’m just gonna bob in this frigid aquarium of corpses until I die the death of a noble Otter Pop so you can survive this nautical tragedy on your floating door”?
Welp, that’s how I felt when I was told, “Sir, we’ll need you to remove your shoelaces.” This was during the intake process when I found myself checking into a mental healthcare facility. It’s important to know that I love shoes like SNL loves making terrible sketches and, at the time; I was wearing my favorite pair: white-on-white Nike AF-1’s. The Sampson of my collection. Having to surrender my laces felt Iike Delilah Scissorhands had cut my power source and fed me to the Philistines. Translation: it was a big deal. That was the moment it hit me, like, “Yo, I’m really drowning.”
For the past several years, I’ve been a QP (Qualified Professional) in the mental health field; providing therapeutic counseling to traumatized youth, as well as conducting trainings in psychosocial development and doing intensive in-home therapy. I spend a great deal of time educating other people in healthy ways to manage their behaviors and emotional distress.
Prior to that, I was a radio DJ, touring rap artist, community do-gooder, and friendly neighborhood doodle guy. As an adult, I’ve spent 100% of my life in front of large audiences, educating and/or entertaining. You would think, with those backgrounds, that I’d be scientifically engineered for inspired mental vitality and unbreakable emotional will. By all accounts, I should be doing the robot everyday, singing, “This is How We Do It!” from the rooftop of some ballerific mansion in Cape Town. Or Baltimore.
If that were the case, I wouldn’t be laceless in a treatment facility, talking to a man who looked like a scholarly ostrich in a bow tie about my psychological Demogorgans every morning. However, it did help. Being able to identify the torment made me feel less like I was moonwalking blindfolded through the Upside Down. To keep it funky, it also made me feel like a hypocrite. I spend 40+ hours a week telling other people how to manage their brain goblins, and I’m over here failing magnificently at managing my own.
I’m a terrible manager.
Every morning I wake up sucks. My body’s tense, my heart beat is crazy and I’m basted with paranoia. For no tangible reason. Just crucified to ideas of inadequacy ‘cause my brain keeps caroling, “YOU AIN’T SHIT!” like it’s in the dang Mississippi Mass Choir. My brain is a dick. It’s literally the worst cheerleader ever. I hate it like a butt splinter.
On the daily, I make monstrous efforts to present myself like everything’s all good, but it’s not; and it’s been that way since I used to lie to my classmates about my dad being a werewolf, because I’d never see him.
My therapist says I have daddy issues. I don’t know what she’s talking about. But I do know I’m one repressed memory and a pair of clear heels away from booty-poppin’ to a 2Chainz song.
Compound that with (all in the same year) the separation of my daughter, severe injuries from a racially motivated attack, seeing my father for the first time in twenty years on his deathbed, and a litany of other woe-is-me’s…I’d finally lost it. There’re days where I’ve stood in front of the mirror and violently denigrated myself. For hours. I felt insane. In the membrane.
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This is where treatment was particularly effective for me. I was there for a week. That week was the most “normal” I’d felt in years. It was less like Arkham Asylum and more like being homeschooled by Professor X. All these people, like me, with these dope-ass mutant genes, were learning how to thrive with their abilities. None of us were “crazy.” Whether we’d come voluntarily or not. We were all people with specific needs trying to get our normal on. Between group sessions and meetings with Dr. Ostrich, I would draw. That’s how I cope when I feel myself freaking out. I ended up chronicling my entire time in treatment through my doodles. I posted most of the experience on Instagram as a series, “#LacesOut.”
I learned I was dealing with dual ailments, major depression and panic disorder. This is where some good ol’ “Separate but Equal” would’ve been dandy. Don’t get me wrong, the coalescing of varied ethnicities is absolutely the most beautifullest thing in this world. I’m sayin’, if Lisa never went to Bayside High and met Screech, they woulda never hooked up and we’d never have Obama. Tragedy! What I mean is; it’s hard enough wrestling one illness, and while it’s hella common, having multiple cerebral leeches occupying the same space is one helluva kick in the brain-balls. It’s like, when they integrate, they get together and morph into this monolithically oppressive opponent that chokeslams you so deep into the sunken place, you permanently lose sight of who you actually are.
That’s where I was. I’d gotten so deep into psychological despair that suicide felt like the only way out. Not because I wanted to kill myself, but because the idea of being “done” felt like serenity. I woke up one morning and told myself that I was gonna live my last day like I was Diddy on Christmas, and then, to cap the night off, I’d drive my new Chevy over the Cape Fear Bridge. That was the plan. Towards the end of that night, an older woman (who I’m pretty certain was the ghost of Bea Arthur in a persuasive evening gown) invited me to her place for “fancy hotdogs and hottubbin’.” She didn’t know it, but she was trying to save me. I totally should’ve ended that night at home reeking of boiled wiener water.
I totaled my car, but I survived the crash, with nothing more than a gash on my arm. How that happened is still inexplicable to me. After that, I knew it was time to get help. As humbling as it was to remove the laces from my kicks, getting that treatment is really what saved my life. When I posted my experience, many of my friends and random supporters posted pictures of their own shoes unlaced in solidarity, which made my heart do La Macarena. I still keep the laces out as a reminder. For me, for others who are struggling, and for my daughter—who’s gonna need someone to embarrass her when she has her first Daddy/Daughter Dance.
EDITOR IN CHIEF / EDITOR: Gabriel Nathan | DESIGN: Leah Alexandra Goldstein | PUBLISHER: Bud Clayman
See Related Recovery Stories: BIPOC Mental Health Recovery Stories, Depression, Mental Health First Person Essays