So a few days ago I literally found myself talking a friend off the ledge because of some recent personal and professional problems that he was dealing with. The strange thing is that it was our first conversation in two years because of a fall out we’ve had in the past. Because our last conversation wasn’t the most pleasant it became a surprise to me when on this particular random day a feeling from inside kept bugging me to call him. I wanted to send a simple “A yo, just checking on you” text but deep down because of our decade-long history I knew it was best to make a what is now considered a stone age action by verbally calling him. The second he said “Hello” I could hear it in his voice tone that something was off and immediately after I asked “How’s everything?” he vented out for about 16 minutes straight. This same guy whom when we last spoke both of us ended with an “F— you very much,” was now on the other phone line sobbing about his life issues in desperate need of a shoulder to lean on.

As my once brother now turned frenemy was now spilling his troubles to me I couldn’t help but think back on how cool he used to be whenever a problem or tragedy would occur. “That’s life, oh well,” was his regular response, now fast forward he was screaming “F— everybody!!!” from the top of his lungs. When I suggested that seeking professional could be an option he quickly shut me down with a quick “Nigga I ain’t crazy!!!” His anger was then directed at me as he felt insulted that I would even “recommend that type of bullshit,” and stated that all he needed was to “find a good church or something,” before hanging up the phone.

I was pretty sure that I would never hear from my friend again until later that same night when he called to apologize for hanging up on me earlier. He admitted that I hit a sore spot when the suggestion of therapy was brought up because the stigma that it carries. I reminded him that both of us grew up in environments where the idea of mental health was another way of saying “Yo ass is crazy,” and that it’s perfectly ok to admit when you’re not ok. He wasn’t totally sold on the idea but at least now we were having a dialogue that challenged the miseducation we both learned about mental health and why it is important to seek better for ourselves. After a few more words he agreed to at least be open to the idea and when the mention of our own past personal issues came up, I stated we can work on that in due time but for now to know I’m in his corner if or whenever he decides to seek a positive path for a better life.

J Hall