MorningJoy Podcast is a biweekly podcast that focuses on education, mental health, and the music we use to cope in this crazy world. It highlights folks of color doing amazing work. 
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What saved my life

What saved my life

by Julian Evan Rodriguez 

if I may, I would like to share a story with you all. This is the story of my life and how, through the darkness, I found my light.

Growing up in my household was not easy. Not just for me, but for all my brothers and sisters as well. My mom was working a job she didn’t like and she was married to a very abusive man. It hurts me to even call him that. He hit us, hurt us, assaulted us, and he made sure we knew that he was in complete control. Because of this, and because I was one of the older children, I was very much aware of what was going on. At a young age I learned what it meant to be abused. I was a victim of sexual assault. He knew I was too weak to try and protect myself and my mom was too blind to save me. It was scary. This was where I started being shrouded in darkness.

Around ten, I started to develop feelings for people I knew I shouldn’t have feelings for. You know how they make you make valentine’s Day cards for your entire class? Well, I only ever wanted to make cards for the boys, I only ever wanted to hold hands with the boys, and I only ever wanted to hug the boys. I realized that I’m gay. That scared me. It scared me more than anything ever has or ever will. You see, the men in my family had made it clear in the past about how they felt about homosexuals. Because of this, I was very afraid to tell anybody. This was the first time I started contemplating self-harm. I was 10. There’s no reason why anyone at 10 years old should be thinking about self-harming. But, that didn’t matter because death seems safer than telling my family who I really was. 10 years old.

At 14, I finally decided to tell my family the truth. But, that didn’t stop the thoughts from coming. I thought that if I told them the truth that I would no longer be sad. I thought that I would no longer want to hurt myself. I thought that I would feel safe again. I was wrong. I was so wrong that in that same year I decided to cut for the first time. It hurt. But, seeing the blood and seeing the cut made me feel better. It took the pain I was feeling internally, and made it external. It gave a physical source and location and I finally felt good. I made sure no one would be able to see my scars and I always put a smile on my face. No one could know the truth. Throughout my entire time in high school I battled my thoughts and actions. I was very careful to make sure people saw one side of me. The lowest I’ve ever felt was in this time. It got so dark that I had a noose ready. I had pills ready. I had everything and anything I would need to just end it all. I couldn’t continue to mask and carry this darkness with me. But, I couldn’t go through with it. I was a coward, but I didn’t want to be. I wanted to make adecision that, at the time, felt like the only one I needed to make. I faked my way through high school, friendships, and even my relationships. I was hurt beyond measure because I knew everything I built, was a lie. However, through it all, I found something that made me see why living was a better option.

I enrolled at Texas Wesleyan University in the fall of 2014. It is arguably the best decision I ever made. Being here has been an opportunity for revitalization in figuring out who I am, and more importantly, figuring out who I want to be. I started going to therapy that same year and was diagnosed with severe depression. I started out by going once a week and completing a checklist of tasks that helped me see the beauty in life. One of the beautiful things in my life was music. I’ve always loved it and now I wanted to become a part of it. Music saved my life. Music gave me a sense of purpose. I found the revitalization I was looking for.Now I go twice a month and, honestly, stillsometimes feel the darkness surrounding me. There are days where I can’t even get out of bed, but I know it’s so important to get up and live I made friends that were always by my side. Even though I was still hesitant to open up to them, but I finally did. I found my passion in music. I finally felt like my darkness was going away.

If I may, I would like to thank the friends who found a way for me to tell you this story. You all know who you are, so from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for being the light I find through my darkness. No matter where I go, I know your light is a beacon.

Depression never goes away. Depression will follow me for the rest of my life. This isn’t a story of my sad miserable life. This is a story of hope. Hope to find your beauty in life. This is my truth. I will leave you with this quote from Samuel Smiles, “hope is like the sun, which, as we journey towards it,cast the shadow of our burden behind us.” This is who I was. This isn’t who I am going to be.

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