I’m Okay with Not Being Okay
There are moments when I struggle sharing my personal experience managing my depression and addressing my suicidal ideation. The first time I felt that experience was reciting a poem I wrote about that topic called “In the End.” I’ve performed this poem over the years at poetry venues throughout the Philadelphia metropolitan area and also two years ago as a storyteller for This Is My Brave. Although I do get nervous prior to reciting poetry for the first time, my anxiety increases a little more when performing “In the End” because of its subject matter. Fear and doubt cloud my thoughts, but I manage to cast them aside and recite my poem. Some reactions I received from a few individuals expressed concern about my well-being, but the majority of the responses I received from others thanked me for having the courage to share my story, especially from a black man.
Being diagnosed with major depressive disorder has been both a curse and a blessing. I would never want to wish the symptoms I’ve encountered over the years upon any human being: isolating myself and having limited to no social interaction with others; feeling guilty about past mistakes I’ve made; losing interest in the things that bring me joy like writing and exercising; wrestling with insomnia; and losing weight due to a decreased appetite. However, it if wasn’t for my diagnosis, I wouldn’t have had the chance to seek treatment to manage my mental health. Learning to identify my coping skills like writing, reading, music listening, and cooking, and to create a personal wellness toolbox has been beneficial for my self-care whenever I’m feeling symptomatic and to keep my depression in check. In addition, working with my former therapist inspired me to pursue a new career by becoming a therapist to assist others and to advocate for mental health awareness.
I enjoy being a therapist and a mental health advocate. I’m passionate about doing something I love and watching a client make progress in his or her treatment through individual and group therapy. I also get excited about supporting events that raise mental health awareness like This Is My Brave. Unfortunately, challenges do occur and dampen my enthusiasm. As much as I want to save every person who has attended an individual session with me or has participated in one of my group sessions, not everyone is receptive to seeking therapy. As much as I would love to have my loved ones support me in my mental health advocacy by participating in events like This Is My Brave, not everyone is receptive to support me in my endeavors. For me, that’s where I can get frustrated and start to take things personally by questioning my skills. Sometimes I wonder is it worth it to continue fighting for a cause that’s not given the recognition and support it deserves due to mental health stigmas.
The answer is yes. I’m committed to continue advocating for mental health and to be the best therapist I can be. I may not be able to save the entire world, but I have the ability to make a positive impact upon the life of one person or more through therapy or storytelling. I also recognize it’s important for me to remember I’m human and there will be some days when things when I feel depressed, but it’s all right because I’m okay with not being okay and to take care of myself.
Bill Holmes was a co-producer for the premiere This Is My Brave Philadelphia and a former storyteller from the Washington, DC ensemble. He is currently employed as a therapist at a non-profit agency in Philadelphia, PA. Bill is a graduate of Walden University with a masters’ degree in mental health counseling. He is an advocate for raising awareness to end stigmas that are
associated with mental health. Bill is also a writer, a poet, an author who is working on releasing a memoir called In the End, which chronicles his struggles with major depressive disorder and suicidal ideation.