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OP-ED: Gray Hairs — Why We Need Emotional Support

I thought I was seeing things. Surely my eyes were deceiving me. As I began to look closer, I realized my fears were a reality: I had strands of gray hair in my head. As irrational as it may sound, this began to deeply affect me. Trips to the barbershop would now contain a mandate of “cut the gray hairs off please.”  Now for some, gray hair is welcomed as a sign of wisdom and knowledge, but for a 32 year-old male, it meant something totally different.

Unmarried, no kids, lack of fulfillment in life, internal struggles with family and emotional wounds, many which were self-inflicted — the gray hairs, I felt, were there as a reminder of my personal struggles with where I was at in life.

I’m aware that this can give the perception of whining. Transparency often comes packaged with misconceptions.

God was faithful to me last year and he remains faithful to this day, but his faithfulness didn’t exempt me from the fragility of human emotion.

Still reeling from the death of my mother that occurred in February 2015, I wrestled with abandonment, depression and fear. While it’s totally natural for humans to struggle with the various facets of life, depression can make life imbalanced and can lead to unhealthy choices.

Depression leads to isolation. Pride and embarrassment often prevent us from sharing our hurts and scars and it makes the pain much worse and toxic.

Not only was I isolated, but I lacked accountability. My emotions began to govern me and without even knowing it, my addictions and habits were deteriorating my character.

I made reckless mistakes, some of which that drastically altered the course of my life. Manipulation and selfishness took up residence in my life, thus causing friction and turmoil with several who were close to me.

The news isn’t all bad. I was blessed with a job that I always wanted. I began an odyssey from Georgia to Florida to finally begin a professional career, which, for the longest time, seemed to be elusive.

With addictions and bad habits becoming more visible and noticeable, I got help. I sought professional and spiritual counseling and accountable partners.

Because of God’s grace, I’ve been able to forge new friendships and partnerships that have benefited me spiritually and mentally.

There are good, quality people who love me and have embraced me despite my shortcomings. Our addictions have a tendency to thrust us into an alternate universe where we live in exile due to our mistakes. This is the farthest thing from the truth. Our spiritual and mental recovery is dependent on our willingness to place ourselves in an environment where healed people can help us heal.

If you’re struggling and coping with depression, please tell someone. People care. The trajectory of our lives can get wayward at times and our attempt to understand God’s nature can be frustrating, but we were designed for community. We don’t have to face our fears alone.

It’s not too late to get help. A cry for help makes you vulnerable, but the admittance will later make you whole.

As for those gray hairs, I no longer tell the barber to cut them. I leave them there. They represent a storybook that’s full of ups and downs, but chapters are still being added to it.

I’m unaware of what year number 33 has in store, but I’m optimistic and hopeful because I’ve learn to adapt and make healthy changes and most importantly, I’m learning how to be honest with myself.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons 

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