By: Devin Price
I recently came out to the world. After 21 years of keeping it a secret, I finally put it out there. I’m gay.
Growing up, my grandpa taught me life lessons like, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” He taught me how to be strong and live by those words. However, I learned that not everyone has the same perspective.
I dealt with feelings of depression from a very young age. In high school, I was never able to be myself. I was the new kid and felt like no one wanted to know me for who I really was. I was made fun of for being black and Greek, for being different. And, that just triggered those feelings of depression and made things worse. I felt like I had to hide everything about me, including my sexuality. I felt like things would never get better. Eventually I questioned whether or not people would miss me if I was gone and I slipped into a dark place I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to leave.
Then I found track and field. Running changed my life. It wasn’t just a sport or exercise for me; it was a way to express myself, a way to forget the world for an hour or so. Despite all the thoughts in my head and my own internal conflicts, when I was on the track I felt invincible. I was no longer the outsider that took heat from everyone because of his race or because he was different. I was an athlete. It felt good walking around my high school with my letterman jacket. I felt like if people weren’t going to look at me for what I had to offer on the inside, than maybe I could put on this jacket and be the person they wanted me to be on the outside. Maybe they would think I wasn’t so strange, maybe they would think I was cool. But I still wasn’t the real me.
I came to college thinking everything would be better. Everyone thinks college is the one place you can finally be yourself and embrace a fresh beginning. That never happened for me. I still felt like I was one person externally, and an entirely different person on the inside. It felt like I was in quick sand and no matter how hard I fought, I was just stuck, sinking deeper and deeper. At the brink of my depression, I considered taking my own life. I wanted to hurt myself. I often thought, I’m just going to jump off this roof, and no one will stop me.
That’s when I realized something wasn’t right. I needed to change my life and go in a different direction. I sought professional help and learned to talk out all of my issues. I sat down and said everything I ever felt.
Coming out was one of the most important decisions I made for my health and well-being. I knew I’d have to face my friends, everyone on campus, my teammates and fellow athletes, and I’ve learned through my recovery it’s important to rely on your friends. Whether it’s a big group, a small group or just one person, it makes a difference to be heard. I had an entire support system of family and friends, and combined they were the prescription I needed for my path to recovery.
When I realized I wasn’t alone, that there were other people going through the same thing, it gave me the courage to be myself and to tell my story. Now I feel comfortable everywhere I go. I feel comfortable with who I am. I am black, I am Greek and I am gay. I’m different, but we all are. Everyone is unique, no one fits the same mold. We all come from different places and it’s about finding where you fit in and doing the things that make you happy that makes life worthwhile.
I now know how important it is for us all to share our stories, and that's why I want to tell mine to as many people as I can in the MTV and SoulPancake special “Life Continued: Defeating Depression.” I want to help bring awareness to emotional health. Anyone can share their story through the “Love is Louder” movement by tweeting using the hashtag #lifecontinued. Young people can share positive messages of hope and express that their “#lifecontinued because @LoveisLouder than the pain.” And, they can find information and resources on HalfofUs.com.
Being there for someone can truly make a difference. Letting someone know you care can save a life. It helped save mine and in return I promise to never turn my back on anyone. If I can help change at least one life, I will know that my life had purpose.
Devin Price (@DevinMPrice) is a 21-year-old Indiana State University student who is sharing his story in MTV's "Life Continued: Defeating Depression," airing tonight at 7 p.m. ET.