Lingering effects of a nickname

The Black Man’s Guide to the Psyche

Despite the somewhat meandering nature of this column, I intend to keep my word and discuss the intricacies of mental health as I understand it.

As my first article was an introduction, it’s fitting that my sophomore piece be an introduction to myself: this is a brief history of Drewpy.

To many close friends and some acquaintances, Drewpy is nothing more than a nickname. For me, it is the embodiment of something far more insidious.

The first time I was called this was at a high school sleepover when I had just become the fourth and final member of a rock band formed by my classmates.

We were playing video games and talking shit as 14-year-old boys do, but at some point their idea of humor devolved into personal affronts.

My three new “friends” joked about sexually assaulting my brother, made lewd remarks about my sexuality and race and referred to me only as a “Drewpy Douchebag” or simply “Drewpy.” The name stuck.

Within a week everyone I knew referred to me by this bastardized version of my name. It hurt deeply to know the disgusting background behind its origin, yet feel too embarrassed to explain why I was so offended.

Even worse was my complacency; rather than confront my aggressors directly I permitted their taunting. In my desperation for acceptance I gave up my self-respect.

Peers I thought were my friends were making a mockery of my family, my race, my sexuality and my name without even knowing it. And I allowed it to continue without dissent.

My formative teenage years were punctuated by a deep, lingering depression, which continues to manifest itself in more sinister ways.

The name became representative of a mental dichotomy between the person I know I am and the depression I harbor. I can take a joke; Drewpy might start a fight. I can manage my responsibilities; Drewpy would rather drink for days on end. I am a happy person; Drewpy feels a deep existential sadness.

I am Drew, but Drewpy is my depression. The distinction between the two is not always as clear as I would like it to be.

With time, the nickname has become a catharsis for my mental affliction. It was not the cause of my depression, but it did provide a sort of incorporeal space for it to manifest in.

The idea of Drewpy does not define me as a person.

By labeling my depression, I emancipate myself from it. I am who I choose to be, not whom my emotions try to force me to become.

There really isn’t a silver lining to this story — depression is a bitch, high school is shitty and my teenage years were a massive cliché.

But I don’t have to live in the past —  just like my depression and my bandmates, I’m leaving Drewpy behind in high school memories.