by Sylvester Gaskin
I had a long day at work, and I’m glad you’re finally home. I’m happy you had a good day at work and you had fun at your new yoga class. You’re sitting on the couch, eating your dinner, and I can’t stop thinking about how you saved me. You’ve heard me talk about it many times, and you don’t believe me. But it’s true; you’ve saved my life more times than I can count. And I’m thankful.
I started thinking about it today after I had a long day at work and you gave me a hug. I didn’t have to say anything (I guess it was something in my eyes), but you instinctively knew I needed your support. I think you knew what was going on in my mind, that I didn’t want to live anymore and deal with the stress of life. But that simple hug meant the moon and stars to me. And that simple show of affection kept me going.
You saved me last Sunday. I was working an event, and my colleagues just kept passing me by and not acknowledging my existence. I felt left out of their conversations, left out of their plans, and alone on an island. It probably wasn’t nothing, but in my mind it meant the world was collapsing. I had to text you about what was going on, and you told me to not worry and that you loved me. Those few words kept me from leaving work and hiding in my car, or just quitting my job and moving to the mountains. My plan on just leaving ended right there with that message.
You saved me a few days ago. I’m working a program that I’ve been planning for months, then someone tells me that they hated what I did and that I should re-evaluate what I do as a job. Even after I politely told them to “fuck off,” I felt worthless. I knew I shouldn’t, and comments like those are made by people who have no idea what they are talking about. But it hit me like a ton of bricks. I came home and told you what happened, and you confirmed that I shouldn’t feel bad; you can’t please everyone, but you have to work to make yourself happy. I needed to hear that.
You know that I’ve dealt with my depression, my anxiety and my ideations for a long time. You know I have many periods of my life where I doubt myself, my value to my community and my place on this Earth. You’ve been there with me when I openly told you I wanted to die, that I was worthless and I wasn’t deserving to have your love. For some reason, you have stood tall with me, shared your own stories with me on how you’ve felt the same way and that we will get through it together. You were full of compassion and love, and I still don’t know why you show it to me.
You know it’s not easy being Black and being mentally ill. You get it; we are both people of color who’ve been through some trauma, and our families don’t believe that we can have these feelings of doubt and anxiety. You know that I’m always trying to show that I’m tough and can handle anything, but I get home and collapse from the weight I’ve been carrying. You and I have talked about how society today doesn’t value men of color, unless we are good looking actors or skilled athletes. You get it.
I need you to know how much you mean to me and the impact your care has on my life. I’ve often felt worthless, and you bring my spirits back up. I’m a believer that God gave you the strength to put up with me, and the only way I can reciprocate your love is to keep living and loving you with every fiber of my being.
Enjoy your dinner. I really, really, ridiculously love you.
Sylvester Gaskin is just a simple brother trying to live with his anxiety.