Thursday, March 21, 2019

My Struggle with Depression

I have been debating whether or not to tell my story for sometime now.  I did not want to hurt anyone or make anyone feel bad about my story so I have kept pretty quiet about it.  But now it is time to tell my story and the obstacles, thoughts, feelings, etc that I have dealt with and over come in the past.

I have battled depression on and off for sometime now.  I didn't realize I was dealing with depression in junior high and high school I just thought it was part of being the gay closeted kid who was terrified for his life.  I would walk down the hall and be called "faggot" "queer" "homo" and other names.  People would come over to our house to see my brother and sister and make comments about "how gay" I was.  I didn't feel safe in my own home let alone at school.  The one place I did feel safe was when I was dancing or when I was at swim practice.  My swim and dance friends were my tribe and kept me feeling safe.  My family had no idea what I was going through or what I was feeling and that is because I did not tell them.  My mom and dad told me later in life that they felt awful they didn't know and didn't do more to protect me.  I let them know that I wasn't ready to address it or discuss it and there was nothing they could do to change it.

When I was 17 my cousin told me about an audition for a parade in Disneyland.  So I booked a flight and went and auditioned on April 1, 1995.  I was at the audition for 9 hours and was finally around other people like me.  Guys who danced and guys who clearly weren't straight.   This was my first professional performing job and I was so excited to start.  My family saw how important this was to me and they move heaven and earth to make this happen for me.

Being some where I fit in was so important to me that I almost dropped out of high school to make sure I could make rehearsals for Disneyland and the Lion King Celebration I was cast in.  Rehearsals started in mid April and I had not yet finished high school so my mom and I took my rehearsal schedule to the principal and said we would need to excuse me from those days.  The principal said that would be too many absences and I would not be able to graduate.  I told her to give me the form to drop out then!  I hated high school and I needed to get somewhere I fit in, somewhere I could be me!  We all ended up agreeing that if my teachers would let me take my finals early I could graduate, and I did.

After one of the first rehearsals I attended at Disneyland I remember someone asking me if I were gay and without hesitation I said, yes!  It felt so good to be me and to find others like me.

I am just rambling at this point and it all boils down to this....  At times I still battle with my depression and I suffer from seasonal depression and moving to San Fran during one of the rainiest seasons on record was a test!  I was away from my family and my tribe in a dark, cold, and rainy place!

A few things that always lift my spirit and get me out of my depression start are:

My family! I am so fortunate to have such an amazing family and we have been through so much together.  I want to see how amazing my nieces turn out and all the amazing things they accomplish.

My tribe! I am so lucky to have amazing friends and many of them I consider my family.  I have always had a strong tribe at my side and I have a tribe here in the bay area!

Dance!  Dancing is what I am passionate about it and it helps me to work out my emotions and connect with myself and everything that balanced me throughout my life.  Don't get me wrong - dance has also been a source of pain over the years.  The rejection from auditions, the reason I always feel fat, the cause of my eating disorders, etc.  It has taken a lot of time and work to overcome those feelings and at times they are really hard to fight but at least I don't suffer from the eating disorders anymore.

Anyways.  My point is that life is beautiful and I didn't want to miss out on it.  I also have seen how much pain and anger is left behind when someone decides to take their life.

Please realize how amazing you are and how much you contribute to this world.  I know it is it hard to recognize those things at times but trust me it is worth it in the end.  Ask for help and love yourself.

I am here for you and I am just one of the many that are here for you.

Here are a few resources if you are struggling with depression or just need someone to talk to:

Please get help some where.