Oh man, I've been in, uh, open mic scenes and poetry for about 10 years now. And, uh, it just never ceases to amaze me, the power of honesty and the power of sharing your narrative. Um, one of the things I love about poetry personally is that, um, when you're vulnerable and you share your struggles and your story, it allows the audience to know that they're not alone in theirs. Um, and my piece, my Honest Poem today, uh, I feel like definitely speaks to that in a sense. So today is, uh, Mental Health Awareness Day and um, my piece kind of speaks to that a little bit and um, and know just anybody who is going through something like that, just know, again, like I said, that you're not alone and, uh, you're worthy. So, um, this is my Honest Poem.
I was born on July 5th, 1986 and my parents named me Edward Lee Henderson II. Uh, my junior year of college, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Um, I was getting high with some friends and a manic episode was triggered. And It felt like a euphoric download of timeless wisdom. You know, heaven is now, we've been here before, and now the proclamations rolled off my tongue like an ancient scroll. You know, I called my mother to share my epiphany, but from her perspective there was something wrong and she drove up the next day, took me to the hospital, and the doctor delivered his diagnosis: a chemical imbalance in the brain causing extreme emotional highs and lows. I fell into a depression for the next five years because my awakening had transformed into a crime scene for my confidence. The stigma surrounding Bipolar coupled with being told I had to take pills for the rest of my life served as a murder weapon for any trust I had left in myself.
You know, believing you have a mental illness is like quicksand to your self-esteem. The more you want to move towards loving yourself, the faster your lungs drown in "I'm not good enough"s. Never contemplated suicide, 'cause I figured you can't kill what's already dead in the first place. I never thought I would find love, so I paid for it. I confused sex with true connection. Whenever women would ask me why I didn't have a girlfriend, I wanted to tell them, "Sure, this mass looks nice, but the spirit underneath it is more broken than relations between Israel and Palestine. I had a screensaver smile, my spine was held together with Gorilla Glue, and getting out of bed each day was a song on my I Heart Radio that was getting played out quickly, but then...
But then 2013 came. You know, I called a friend at Princeton seminary for advice and he gave me this prayer. He said, "Ask God's words to be your words and God's thoughts to be your thoughts and completely surrender to his will." And I went home that night, said that prayer, and everything changed. My subconscious voice became my conscious voice and said, "If you want to know what's going on here, I'm going to show you." Doubt arose, questioning if I lost my grip on reality, but something inside kept telling me to trust myself. I was now deciding spirituality in history, until I found a name buried beneath the Pyramids that chose me just as much as I chose it. So allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is Amen Ra, the Sun God, the ancient Egyptian deity who created other gods and goddesses and set them on their way, the real reason we say "amen" at the end of prayers and a symbol of universal consciousness and oneness.
You know, people may believe that calling yourself a god is a mark of a lack of humility. But I believe it's the most humbling statement your breath can carry. It means you recognize the divinity within everyone and everything around you, it means you transcended your limitations and embraced a new perspective. It means you accept the responsibility of being a servant leader. But despite all of this power and self- knowledge, I still get lonely. Enlightenment doesn't destroy your demons. It only makes them more clear. So I say, "hotep," or "peace be with you." My name is Amen Ra. I'm learning to accept my past, prepare for an illuminated future, and I'm falling in love with my shadow because without it, I would have never recognized my light. Thank you.