MY NAME IS DIMEJI

MY NAME IS DIMEJI

EDITOR’S NOTE: Remember the hit three-part miniseries, Finding Dimeji (Read HERE, HERE and HERE)? Well, Dimeji is finally speaking his truth, and here is the beginning of his story.

*

“I’d rather die”

Everyone says those words every now and then. Everyone’s said those words in very many different contexts. They’ve been sometimes deathly serious and other times casual and playful. I’ve probably said those words way too often too, but there are two contexts that remain lodged in my memory.

First was when I’d just narrated an experience to a friend. I’d told him about secondary school and how I was expelled after getting caught in a compromising position with this other boy. I was in a sharing mood. And this friend was quick to say, “I’m okay with it if you’re gay. I don’t have anything against gay people.” To which I was even quicker to say, “I’m not gay. I can’t be gay. I’d rather die than be gay.”

I wasn’t being honest, obviously. Firstly, I was gay. Secondly, Secondly, of course I didn’t mean that I would literally prefer death to being gay. I simply said that because I thought that was what someone like me was supposed to say. I was the good son of preacher parents, and I believed that this was how I was supposed to react to the notion that I could ever be gay. At that time, a lot of my life was about doing what people expected.

Then it was no more.

Many things changed for me over the course of 2018. It was a formative year. The first half of the year saw me confront my sexuality with the help of really friendly strangers on Discord. The second half saw me confront religion with the help of a newly atheist course-mate who, at the time, wouldn’t shut up about Christopher Hitchens and the flaws in Pascal’s Wager. (Christopher Hitchens is a popular atheist who has written books and debated a lot of religious leaders. And Pascal’s Wager is a common argument used by religious people to insist on the existence of God.)

Toward the ending of 2018, I’d gone from what I was to a (self-described) homosexual unbeliever. But I was still naïve – that is, if it counts as naiveté to believe that “love conquers all”. I still believed that “the truth will set you free”. That if the truth is out there, you no longer have to worry about hiding.

Besides, didn’t my parents often say that they would love me no matter what? “You’re our child,” they’d often say to me. “We can’t disown you.”

And they didn’t disown me, but maybe, that it would have been better if they did.

One of the problems with realizing that you’ve been living your life based on everyone else’s expectations is that you’re now cognizant of the fact that there’s so much you’re participating in that you’d very much rather not be. That there are so many opportunities you’ve missed. And that it’s going to be hard now to course correct.

I was studying a course in the university because of people. I had created an image for myself because of people. I was hiding my suffering because of people. And I realized that had to change. I had to find a way to do what it is I wanted to do and to be who I wanted to be so this suffering would end.

And I was suffering.

In silence.

Crying in my secret places and feeling like I couldn’t go on.

The ironic thing was that, even when I strived to present a sunny personality to the world, however much I tried to pretend to be happy, there were some people who would still say they thought I looked depressed. My misery was so great, it leaked through the cracks of my smiles, enough for them to notice.

I was stuck. But now I knew why and I was going to change it. I was going to free myself.

But we don’t come to this world alone. God places the lonely in families, they say. And power makes the decisions, not you.

So, I decided to tell the truth that I thought would set me free. And because I wasn’t strong enough, I told this truth to my parents by writing a slew of messages in the middle of the night on Facebook Messenger.  Then I wrote a letter on Google Docs.

My truth was that I was no longer Christian, that I was gay, and that I was depressed and suicidal.

But love did not conquer the way I thought it would. You see, my parents had a history of being “supportive”. It was always “we can get through this” with them. That first time, during the mess in my secondary school, they’d come to school and we talked about what happened and it was fine. They didn’t say, “It’s okay. You’re okay.” They were simply not angry and “supportive”.

And this time, they selected what to react to. They ignored what I said about my mental health and simply tried to encourage me to be more Christian. They were more concerned with me being a “child of God”. Rather than listen to me, they simply tried to redirect my path to Christianity. It was always about what God wanted.

And as to me saying I was a homosexual, they basically said, “You’re not gay. This is just the Devil’s temptation.”

And so, even with the truth, I was trapped again. Maybe in a worse way, because I now knew there was a cage. And it was suddenly so suffocating.

I honestly could no longer deal with it.

But I tried.

Another problem with realizing that you’ve been living your life based on everyone else’s expectations is you probably don’t know yourself. You’ve, for so long, been a vessel into which people have poured their assumptions and expectations, so much so that you don’t know who “You” really is.

And when you don’t know You, then how can you know what to do with your freedom? When you don’t know what you’d do with freedom, why not stay in the cage?

But cages are see-through.

It was 2019, and I’d taken someone’s advice and opened an anonymous twitter account. And as I saw more and more people live unapologetically on that social media space, even if it was somewhat from inside their own closets, I began to know what freedom was.

And I tried to find out a bit more what I would look like free.

Anxiety is hard and when it gets really bad, you become a deer in headlights – stuck in horror’s path, unable to just step out of the way. This was where I was. The more I realized that I really did want to be free, and the more I believed that I probably would never be, the more stuck I was. Unable to move, unable to breathe, unable to live. And I was petrified by this.

But, at some point, fear didn’t cut it anymore.

“I’d rather die than live like this.” This was the second time I said those words that meant something to me.

I’d rather die than live like this.

So, I ran. I ran because I saw something, a possibility where I could thrive. And it was fleeting, but I’d be damned if I didn’t chase it with every ounce of strength I have.

TO BE CONTINUED

Written by Dimeji

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  1. Colossus
    April 08, 08:51 Reply

    My name is Dimeji.

    The first part of a prequel to the heart pounding trilogy, Finding Dimeji.

    Out now!!!!

  2. Mandy
    April 11, 06:48 Reply

    The thing I found striking about your story is that you didn’t travel down the often-journeyed road that those of us who suffer depression in the community take: which is suicide.
    It’s really good to read that instead of seeking to take your life, you sought to fight for freedom. Not that I’m shitting on suicide. It takes a lot of bravery for either choice to be made: whether to take your life or fight for your life.
    I’m just really fascinated by how your depression fired up your spirit to seek a different kind of life for you as opposed to simply ending the life you have.

    • Dimkpa
      April 12, 04:43 Reply

      I may be wrong but your reply comes across as if you consider suicide a reasonable course of action.

      “Not that I’m shitting on suicide”- I think you should actually shit on suicide. It indicates someone may have been failed by either friends, family or society.

      “It takes a lot of bravery for either choice to be made…simply ending the life you have.” If it takes a lot of bravery to make a choice then it is not simple.

      “the often-journeyed road that those of us who suffer depression in the community take: which is suicide.” If you have taken this road, I daresay you really would not be here to write this comment.

      • Mandy
        April 12, 06:49 Reply

        I don’t understand this amateur attempt at psychoanalysis that you are trying to pull with me.

        First of all, yes, during some attacks of depression, I have in fact thought about suicide. It’s not about considering it a “reasonable course of action”. It’s simply about thinking of it as a way to go. Whether reasonable or not is not exactly what someone in a depressed state of mind considers when he is going through what he is going through.

        And when I say I’m not shitting on it, I mean that I do not belong to this school of thought that is all about insensitivity when they are talking about suicide victims as though they are weak-minded people who dared commit a crime by taking their own lives. Insensitivity that comes from a place that does not understand the struggle it takes one to get to that point where they do not see any other way to go on with life other than to end things.

        I may be wrong but your reply comes across like you are one of such people.

        And when I said “simply ending your life”, that doesn’t mean I said it’s that simple. Please I would appreciate it if you do not draw false conclusions of my comments. I have lived this enough to have firsthand information about what it is or isn’t.

        And as to your last comment, I have no idea what you mean. But when I said it is the “often-journeyed road that those of us who suffer depression in the community take”, it means I have heard enough stories of gay people taking their lives and had enough conversations with people going through stuff and thinking suicidal thoughts to know that suicide more than thoughts of breaking away are what gay people going through dark times think.

        I don’t know why I’m even explaining myself to you, but if you have problem grasping the concept of why people would take their lives, ponder it on your own and don’t come here attempting to make me feel defensive about my choices in life.

        • Dimkpa
          April 12, 09:30 Reply

          It is interesting to note how in trying to come for me you prove my point. Someone who is depressed may consider suicide but it is not a solution to the problem but rather a symptom of it. It is not “the way to go.” Would you say then that one of the treatments for depression is suicide? It isn’t! So the fact that you consider it does not make it a solution. It may well come if it is not adequately treated or not treated at all but it is not the way to go.

          You’ve gone to a great length to backtrack on your “shitting on suicide” comment. If you want to say something then choose your words correctly and make sure they convey what you want. Suicide is the act of taking one’s life. Shitting on something has to do with disregarding it. So, not shitting on suicide means not discounting it as a way out of the problem, which you should totally do. That phrase does not carry any of the meaning you have mentioned in your reply to me. You would not tell a person who is depressed, “I understand your struggles and I know you’re thinking of suicide, I’m not shitting on it but…” as that would sound like an endorsement of that course of action.

          I understand this culture of replying with vitriol to any perceived critique of a view point that has become almost characteristic of the comments here. I did not expect anything different from you. However, we can’t all always be correct and if we think we are, then we cannot learn from others. It is important therefore to moderate the language we use in comments. I try to, maybe sometimes unsuccessfully, limit my comments to the view point presented in the post and not direct any critique to the person, who I do not know. You have implied I am amateur, insensitive and have a problem understanding concepts. I think however, you should know that I have indeed been depressed and thought of suicide, my work involves many depressed and sometimes suicidal people who I help to avoid that course of action.
          Happy Easter!

          • Mandy
            April 12, 10:30 Reply

            You know, you seem to be very accomplished in twisting my comments to serve whatever purpose you have.

            First of all, I never suggested suicide was a solution to a problem. I said: “It’s simply about thinking of it as a way to go.” That in NO WAY implies that I think of it as a solution to a problem. I really wish you will take your own advice and really read what my comments are, before you run with your own twisted version of what I said and going off about how I’m not using my words. I know what I am saying and I have chosen the words I want to say correctly to express what I am thinking. Maybe do yourself a favour and read to understand instead of to critique.

            Secondly, I did not backtrack on my “shitting on suicide” comment. I EXPLAINED it. A wasted effort, it would seem, seeing as all you’re here to do is pick at my comments for the purpose of making yourself out to be some sort of commenter with higher understanding of life.

            Do not tell me what I should or shouldn’t do regarding my considerations about suicide. If you’re a doctor, then SHAME on you for using this kind of finalistic language. If you’re not, then you have absolutely no business even debating my intentions with me. You may choose to discount suicide, that is of course your prerogative, but please, shut up about how I choose to think on it. (I’m frankly baffled that you claim to work with suicidal people, if this is how you hold conversations about it.)

            And yes, I have noticed that it is your niche over here to come after people’s differing views with this faux persona of “I’m wise, I know what I’m talking about, and you don’t”. That would make sense if you even knew what you are talking about. Because, like I said, read someone’s viewpoints to understand where they are coming from, instead of to pass unnecessarily insensitive critiques.

            Happy Easter to you too.

  3. Dimkpa
    April 12, 04:50 Reply

    This is really great writing. I can’t wait to read the rest of this story. You seem to be very thoughtful and introspective.

  4. Kezon
    April 15, 09:11 Reply

    To think that I never suffered depression as a gay man

    Just learnt how to compartmentalize

    My depression can from failing an exam, something that has never happened to me

    My second depression from KD
    And never realizing about this forum

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