because even quirky ricans need help

yo so i’ve been mad fucking depressed. i got laid off from one of the best jobs i’ve ever had and for the most part, i’ve kept it a secret. my mom knows. my girl knows. a few close friends know but that’s it. i’ve been shell-shocked and by keeping shit to myself, i was trying to keep basic ass fools from having anything to say about me. i was trying to keep my business to myself.

and i succeeded. and like everyone gets laid off, least that’s what i’ve been told.

to come from the atmospheric highs of a-camp and literally the next day get laid off out of nowhere, without warning or anything, sent me spiraling. but i’m really good at keeping it moving. i’m really good at laughing my ass off and making other people laugh too. also, i’m fucking excellent at holding as much of my feelings in as i possibly can and acting as normal as possible. so many of us are good at that. i know it.

now, by holding things in, i don’t mean the details. follow me. so i’d tell my girl ‘yo, i feel mad low but i know it’s a passing thing’ or i’d tell my mom ‘man, i’m just so surprised. it really hurts’. and so on and so forth with whoever, i said those things because they were true and because it’s a good way to keep people from worrying about you.

if you don’t let anything out, people that love you pick up on it. but if you let out little bits, things that can be compartmentalized and stored and perhaps easily shared with others, “yeah, gabby’s sad but it’s a passing thing and she knows it”, you can keep the depth of your sadness hidden. it’s there, right there, right on the edge of of my pores and shit but still no one sees it.

what i couldn’t say to anyone was “wow, i wished i was dead today” or “hey, i cried when i woke up in this morning” or “all i can think about is how i’m never going to amount to anything”. who says those things out loud? who says them to anyone else? i can imagine that lots of people don’t.

that’s the most important thing, right? that no one sees how bad it is. that no one wags their mouth and talks about how they knew you’d end up in a shitty situation. i had someone i respect tell me a few weeks ago that they thought i’d be more established as an adult by now and that it was pretty sad that i hadn’t figured out how to be successful yet.

fuck, yeah. i mean me too times a thousand but wow really?

Sometimes it feels like I’m the only person who isn’t excelling or the only person who doesn’t have their own home or car or 3 babies or the only person who isn’t able to “buck up, chuck” and like that’s just not true. It’s not at all.

i don’t let go of things easily. i might gain perspective and see that other people are flawed and human, but i don’t forget what people say to me or what they do to me.

sometimes it’s what makes me crumble.

anyway, so back to being laid off and putting up screens. i don’t mean to be intentionally deceptive. lots of times i’m just scared of what will come out of my mouth if i don’t have a filter on. i’m scared that sometimes i still wish that i could trade nena my life so that she could come back and live hers and actually do good in the world with it. i’ve become super worried about my lack of motivation and ability to focus on anything. for most of my life, i’ve been an over-achiever and insane multi-tasker, making films while working 100 hr weeks while performing poetry while writing for autostraddle while dealing with death and break-ups and bullshit and helping other people make their films and write their poems and teaching and and and and and

and lately like if i can do one or two things i consider the day a very small victory for myself.

i like to have a drink and partake in a little cannabis once in a blue (hhaaa). i don’t like it when those things step into my life to ease anxiety and help me stave off a panic attack. even if it’s just for a night.

but i don’t like anything to be a must, i don’t like being out of control. i especially can’t stand when i’m not being productive. we only get so many trips to the bodega, you know?

now on the flip side of all of this, is my core. the part of me that believes in fate, the universe, the balance of love and evil. this big fat beautiful hippie that knows how sacred life is and how important i am in my pocket of the world. i believe in a future for myself. one that involves me writing and making movies. one that has me married to the most gentle and thoughtful human. one that allows me to stay connected to my queer community and create art and document this weird fucking little lifetime that we’re all sharing.

this is what i held on to on those mornings I wished I was dead.

and I have to take care of myself, all the time, every day, before I do anything else. so i googled “mental health services for uninsured nyc” and this link came up. i’m sharing it with you because it’s the most helpful group of links i’ve EVER encountered.

when my best friend died, i couldn’t find free or sliding scale therapy for under $125. I also couldn’t find a place with flexible scheduling. It was so so frustrating. I let work heal me. I dove head first into every single episode of Grey’s Anatomy. I was wrecked.

so to find this link: A List of Resources for Uninsured New Yorkers was a fucking GIFT.

Of the 15 centers listed, I contacted about 7 of them. Some are for families and some are for other specific mental health needs. Also, a good number of them have specific departments and therapists for the LGBTQ community and low-income people.

These Centers contacted me the fastest:

Dean Hope Center for Educational and Psychological Services
http://www.tc.columbia.edu/ceps/
Low fee psychotherapy and psychoeducational assessment
Teachers College, Columbia University
525 West 120th Street, 6th Floor
(212) 678-3262

The Gestalt Center
http://www.gestaltnyc.org
Reduced fee referral service
220 Fifth Avenue, Suite 802

Columbia Presbyterian Psychiatric Clinic
http://columbiapsychiatry.org/clinicalservices/
Sliding scale fees may be available for medication management and psychotherapy.
Multiple locations: Washington Heights, Columbus Circle, Westchester
Call the Referral Line for information: (212)305-2599
(212) 387-9429

Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy
http://www.icpnyc.org/treatment-services.html
Psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, and specialty treatment programs including eating disorders, trauma, family/couples, and LGBTQ affirmative therapy.
1841 Broadway (at 60th Street), 4th Floor, New York, NY 10023
(212) 333-3444

The Dean Hope, the ICP, and the Gestalt Center all got back to me within 48hrs. Yes, some of them require you to fill out massive forms and it’s fucking stressful. But the people on the other end of these phone numbers were super helpful and patient.

Today I had my intake session at one of these Centers. For my own privacy, I’m gonna keep the name of it to myself. I spoke for almost an hour with a badass older gay dude and felt really respected and cared for. Like it’s going to be ok, they accepted me into care and once a week I’m going to speak to someone for a low rate. They even reduced their sliding scale fee for me while I’m currently uninsured AND their administrative front desk, a self-proclaimed yenta, advised me on how to get insurance and offered to help me out.

(btw, Yes, some of these centers aren’t available for immediate action but the latest placement I saw was the end of September. Also, some of them do charge higher rates for sessions but that’s why I reached out to a bunch)

I’m sharing all this because I wanted to hide it. Hiding is a red flag for me. Once I’m hiding some thoughts/feelings, I know that it’s time to act and shake myself up a bit (which is really really hard to do). No hiding. Cuz maybe one of you lover muffins is feeling sad as hell and hopeless, like there’s nothing you can do about it. What kind of human would I be if I got some help, felt better, and kept it all to myself.

Therapy isn’t a sole treatment for how I’m feeling. I’ve also been getting way more exercise and trying to add more variety to my writing. I’m working on getting up in the morning and not checking my phone. Just getting up and stretching and making coffee and working on my shit feels better.

i’m also focusing on the good in my life: a mom that would pull down the sky for me, a dad and a brother that make me laugh, a roof over my head, food on my plate, a small tight fistful of friends that have my fucking back and will not be swayed, a love that is like nothing i’ve ever experienced…all these things that can be easily taken for granted, i pay attention and am thankful. i can’t imagine feeling this way without these major supports in my life. the edge would be so much closer. 

This life is intense. It’s ok to call out, ask for help, go seek help, get some fresh air. It’s ok be vulnerable and say what you’re really feeling, even if it’s just out loud to yourself. Listen to yourself. When it hurts so bad, it doesn’t feel good, not really. Hurting that bad doesn’t make you a better artist or musician or lover or speaker. It makes you human. What’s really important is how those feelings are navigated.

No one wants to mourn me and they sure as hell don’t want to mourn you, dear lover muffin.

I’m taking care of myself. I’m sharing this info with you because I trust and love you and I don’t want anyone I know to feel too lost. I’m here. Write to me. Reach out to someone. Call one of those centers and make an appointment.

2 thoughts on “because even quirky ricans need help

  1. …because even silly Jamericans need help…. thank you for this post, I just wanted to tell you I appreciate you. thanks for being a reminder that other qpocs exist and for being a voice that reminds me that it’s okay to exist as I am despite the space that surrounds me. I’m gonna choose to stop this post here, I’m almost tempted to “go in”….

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