Layers. Everything has them. The vintage metal glider I am refinishing with the help of two friends, covered in three layers of paint is a good example. The outer, white paint, the middle hunter green, and the original olive green cover up the bare metal. Layers cover things up, hide things, keep things in & out. Layers can be good in some cases, such as Band-Aids, but layers can also be bad, and confusing. Social media for example, can paint pictures that are confusing.
I have a tendency to layer things. My friends for example. I have a very few “close personal friends”, then several more “good friends”, so on and so forth. I very rarely let people get too close, for multiple reasons, most of which remain private.
If you have read previous blogs, you know some of my friends have been critical in the past of the “two James'” There is James Akers, Jr., and then james. The former being the public James that most people see. The latter being the person very few get a chance to see. The person who lets his guard down. I don’t think that is unique to me. I think most people are like that. That is not to say I am not genuine, I still tend to be a little too genuine with people I am really close to. I guess I just hide the flaws as much as I can to everyone outside of that initial layer of friends.
A few years ago a friend most of you knew committed suicide here in Greenville. Instantly people started saying they would have never guessed he was depressed or had anything going on that would have given them any clues. We are partially lying to ourselves, there were signs of a cracking facade. We may not have realized how deep those were, but publicly stating you’re depressed or have issues going on isn’t something smiled upon. Especially by someone known and respected in the community. Depression in general is not talked about, much like sexual abuse, rape, or mental issues.
The truth is about 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older are diagnosed as having a major depression. 11 percent of Americans aged 12 and older report taking antidepressants. Last year, antidepressants were the second most commonly prescribed medications, right after drugs to lower cholesterol. Not quite Prozac Nation, but close.
So, you can see where I am going. For the last several months I have been dealing with issues going on in my life. Most date back to my childhood and things I should have dealt with earlier. Regardless they all seemed to intersect recently and at times I have felt like things have been in a bit of a tailspin recently. Last month I was diagnosed as having “severe clinical depression” and I am working on that. It has impacted every single aspect of my life in some way or another. It has caused me to overreact to certain situations, be hyper sensitive to the words of the people I care about the most (which is strange — I generally couldn’t care less what people think), & as one friend noted, even made me post on Facebook less recently. It has made me way more reluctant to be around people outside of my immediate circle, but on a positive note has helped me do a few things around the house I had put off.. like empty the basement and turn the office into a den.
I guess the point of writing the blog is two things.. 1.) You truly never know what someone else is dealing with, so be kind… go the extra mile to be nice… and stay in touch with the people you care about and the people who care about you. 2.) Depression is real. It affects people in ways you might not even realize and it should be talked about. Not everything should be covered up and hidden.
I’m thankful that I have a couple of great friends who have been resilient in checking in on me and making sure I’m at least partially okay. I don’t think a single day has gone by, or too many hours, that they have not checked in on me.
Love your friends. Listen to your friends. Help you friends.