The truth is. I never wanted to die. But I did want to kill myself.
My fingers are racing at the moment. I am itching to start writing because there it so much to be said. I mean, how can there not be? I have just found out who I am. I have just been re born. I have just figured out the cause of my depression that has haunted my life for as long as I can remember. Today. December 24th 2015. My life has changed, forever. This should be the start of my book. Why am I so impatient? Why can I not wait to write everything out and then release it? This is far too important. I’ve always been impulsive. This needs to get out now. This is only the beginning. Consider this the introduction.
My name is Yousef Saleh Erakat. I am 25 years of age which makes me the youngest of 4. I have two older brothers, an older sister and a set of parents. I was born a Muslim. That is important to be said as I feel it has a huge impact on the story I am about to tell.
I am going to be jumping from past to present, but hopefully you are able to keep up with what is being said. I am going to free write my feelings and not re read what is typed. I find that to be most authentic in what I am going to try to say and I don’t want my fear of judgement to cause me to erase anything I actually DO say. Hm. Ok. Let’s see what I want to let you know.
First off. I apologize to my new publicist. She told me to no make my return to social media be dramatic as it has been for the last 39 times I have left and come back. With the announcement of my first theatrical movie coming in early January and my TV show, I was supposed to come back strong, confident and full of excitement. That way brands would not be scared to work with me and my attachments to the movie and TV show won’t come with all of these strings attached. Well. Oops. :)
I have lived with depression my whole life. At the age of 18 I thought I knew something was wrong with me. I mean, hiding in your dorm room crying while typing furiously listening to sad music trying to understand why you are feeling the way you are feeling instead of getting drunk and partying couldn’t have been the norm right? haha. After meeting with a doctor, I was told I was bipolar. Bipolar 2 though which was supposed to make me feel less “crazy.” At first I was happy. Liberated. I now knew that it was OK to feel the way I felt because I was different. I mean I had proof. The doctor said so, and doctors are always right, right? I was put on medication and have been on and off since then. Through the years the medication has caused severe weight gain, hair loss, confusion, memory loss, the inability to feel and process emotions, the destruction of many relationships and the chance to be a real life zombie before any sort of apocalypse has been announced. Awesome right?
I have lived through many hells. How do I know what hell feels like? Well because I’ve gotten off many medications cold turkey. What that means is, one day I woke up and felt that I am stronger than needing to be on any sort of medications so I flushed them down the toilet and thought everything would be ok. BOOM. Hell. I would love to explain to you just exactly what it feels like but because I am trying to get to the point of this introduction quickly, maybe another time.
I am going to skip many years of this story periodically through this writing. Here’s one of those times.
Recently, I have given up on life. I announced my break from social media for honestly my 12th time and I told my beloved audience that I would return in a week or so, “fresh, strong and ready to conquer.” Well, it didn’t quite work out that way. And that’s where the problem with my breaks always lay. I always took time off from social media thinking that the time away from the present would some how magically change my situation and my inner turmoil. But that was NEVER the case. Time heals all, but not time alone. I was rapidly searching for a house to buy in LA, working out in the gym everyday, buying new clothes and shoes thinking that was going to cause something to switch into my life. I like to lie to myself like this all the time. But at the end of the day, no house, no six pack, no clothes were going to fix what was going on inside. Change on the inside is far more valuable than anything money can buy.
As my break went on I realized that nothing was changing. Nothing ever changed. All that happened during my breaks was I was able to suppress all my negative emotions and energy and forget how I was REALYL feeling. I would lie to myself and re charge myself for another 4-6 months of grinding while avoiding the real problems at hand. The real pain. The real agony. The real issues. My feelings were the same, my motivation was getting worse and my desire to return to social media was subsiding rapidly. There was no reason for me to return. To come back to social media meant to allow millions of people world wide to enter my life on a daily basis and to be a part of my everyday. But my everyday quite frankly SUCKED. I was depressed, angry, resentful, unhappy and unproductive. Why would I want to showcase that to the world? Yeah Yeah Yeah. The “money.” That’s the only thing people who I would ask for advice from would be able to say. “But, Yousef. All the money you make from posting. How could you just walk away from that?” Because screw money. I became a millionaire at the age of 24 and let me be the 1,000,000th to say. More money, More problems. Money was not fixing what I was going through in life so I was tired of being miserable to just make more of it.
Each day was the same. I would wake up around 3PM. Instantly allowing negativity and unhappiness enter my train of thought. My thoughts were always morbid. A kind of anguish as to how unhappy I was to have to live through another day. I would check my phone to see no texts and no calls. This didn’t come as a surprise of course because I purposely pushed everyone out of my life. I didn’t want anyone to be a part of my situation. No one deserved to be brought down. No matter how much they cared and wanted to help, I did not allow it. I would not allow it. Most depressing part of my situation was having my two puppies have to go through what I was going through. Two teacups Muffin and Dollar. When I was sad, they were sad. When I ate, they ate. When I starved, they starved. It was unfair for them. It added onto my depression because I felt bad that if I was too full of hate to go outside it meant that they would not go outside. Dollar tried to trick me by barking at the door and sniffing at it as if someone were outside, but what he really wanted was for me to open the door so he could escape. haha. Little brat.
Anyways, my days consisted of me sleeping. Sleep was my escape. Sleep was amazing. Sleep meant I could dream of a life I only wished to live and didn’t have to deal with any stresses brought on by my reality. This part always confuses many people. My dad for example. I recently told my dad I got cast in my first theatrical movie. Told him how much money I make. Told him of what I recently did to my car. Showed him what house i was looking to buy, so to him, there was no way a person in those circumstances could be depressed. To him depression wasn’t real. It was a mind state. And to break out of it I had to simply choose to “be happy.” haha. That always makes me laugh. But I can’t fault him for feeling that way because he doesn’t understand. He doesn’t know me. He doesn’t know what I go through, what I’ve been through, what I struggle with, how I feel. Hell he doesn’t know that I ever kissed a girl. That might seem like a non factor but it goes to show how much my parents do not know about my life. If they don’t something as small as that because I was scared of being judged OH MY GOODNESS what if they knew what I REALLY do?! What if they knew of my addiction? My tattoo? The drugs?! OMG THE THOUGHT IS TOO MUCH TO HANDLE…I MUST GO TO SLEEP!!! …ahhh peace..
If you’re wondering what else happened in my days. Not much. I slept until about 9PM. Some days I would get myself to the gym some days I wouldn’t. I had no food or drinks in my fridge so I would use post mates and would order a ton of junk food. It wasn’t out of hunger though. I’ve somewhere lost my appetite. But I remember food to be numbing so I would choose to eat my feelings away. Mmm. Temporary escapes. My favorites.
Ok. Time to jump the story again. I love sleep. Sleep was an escape. I hated living. So if I love sleep so much, suicide is surely a better version of sleep right? That’s something that I have been thinking about for many many years. The problem was, I was fascinated by the thought of suicide but I was terrified of death. What that means is, I loved to fantasize about suicide. Yes. You are reading that right. I spend countless hours everyday thinking about what would happen if I were to commit suicide. What people would say. How people would react. What messages would I leave behind. How long would it take the news to report it? Would I be remembered? My go to thought is my balcony. “Jump Yousef. Just jump. It’ll all be over.” There’s actually this moment during the jump that feels very therapeutic. Imagine jumping off a ledge, turning your body around falling back first and smiling at the air. That’s my go to picture. Funny part is, that’s never how I would ACTUALLY go. No way, too scary. Hitting the ground and having it all be over? Naw. I would get more creative than that. But again, I fear death far too much. But I love the thought of suicide. Cryptic. Scary. Feels cool to finally say though. I mean, I don’t have to hold in these feelings anymore.
The truth is. I never wanted to die. But I did want to kill myself. I wanted to kill myself. I wanted to kill who I was pretending to live as. For 25 years, I have been living a lie. No, this has nothing to do with my sexuality. Figured I’d say that since people in 2015 still think that is a go to when someone has a confession and even more people still find it to be an insult. I am straight. Anyways, like I told you in the beginning of this story. I was raised a Muslim. Now my problem is not with Islam, but for all of this to make sense I do have to state that. Although with that sentence being typed out I can already see the backlash, “OMG HE’S CONVERTING! OMG HE’S NOT A MUSLIM ANYMORE! OMG HE’S GONNA BURN IN HELL!” haha. Don’t believe me? Check my twitter mentions. As I type this there is someone who just said that if I commit suicide I will go to hell and someone else who publicly tweeted that he is upset that I chose to leave Islam. Man the JUDGEMENT!! Sometimes I do want to jokingly tweet something along those lines just so I can see all the Holy believers of Islam cuss me out, damn my life, and wish me to burn in hell. I love seeing hypocrisy of religion be brought to light. But no this isn’t about that. Calm down. But I thought I’d speak out loud.
When I was a kid, I always questioned religion. I wondered how my mom knew our religion was the correct religion. I was observant. I mean surely my friends mom was telling him that THEIR religion is correct and who was to tell them that they were wrong? Or that we were wrong? Wait what? Yeah confusing. I mention that I was born a Muslim because that’s what I was. Born a Muslim. I wasn’t asked what religion I wanted to follow. I wasn’t taught 12 religions and told to pick one that best fit my ideals in life. I was told what religion I was, told what to believe, told how to feel, told what to say, how to pray and told many many things that I mustn’t do for they will cause me to live in hell fire in my after life. GEEEEEEZ. 6 years old!? And told that if I don’t follow the right path I’m going to go to hell?! What an up bringing.
Growing up, my dad wasn’t ever the religious one. It was my mom and my oldest brother. So to me my fear lay in their belief and judgement of me. All I knew was to be good and to be righteous in order to keep them happy and proud of me. When I was told to pray, I prayed. When I was told to fast, I fasted. When I was told to do anything, I did it. I assume that’s how all children grow up. Following the guidance of those they valued and cared for. What this did to me was ruin my life. And as I write this I am upset because I now see that there is far too much to be said and explained for any of this to make any sense. Because if I send this off now, it’s going to be misunderstood and it will hurt my situation far more than help. But as always I’ve announced something was coming so I might as well carry on.
What this did was cause me to live a double life from a young age. And before you think that is crazy, I am going to start off by saying that YOU the reader are probably living a double life and not even know it. I say that with confidence because I know of many friends of mine who are in the same predicament. They drink. They smoke. They have tons of sex out of wedlock. They go to Vegas. They do cocaine. They live their life. But when it comes to what their parents know? They have never drank, smoked, gone to Vegas, had sex, done cocaine. Hell, even KISSED a girl. ha. Remember that from earlier? That my friend is living a double life.
As I was growing up, I was doing things any normal teen does. I was kissing girls. Lying. Stealing. Making mistakes. Becoming a man. The only problem is, none of this was ever known to my mother. My mother never knew I did ANY of those things because in my mind I had to always impress and make my mom proud. My double life was in full effect. The older I got the more extreme it became. I was living a life outside with my friends and living a life inside with my parents. What they didn’t know could not hurt them in my mind. What this did was create a sense of judgment and shame inside me. Slowly but surely it was becoming a small ball. These everyday actions of mine were making me hate myself and hate my life more and more. Was it because I thought they were wrong? No. It was because I knew that if my MOTHER knew of these actions, SHE would think they were wrong and she would JUDGE me. I was maybe 13 doing very MINOR sins yet they held the power of a MILLION sins because of the fear that was instilled in me by my mother and her belief in religion. It was horrible but I never knew what it was actually doing to me as a person. I was too young to process these emotions. This was supposed to be happening I thought. This is what life is about I thought. Everyone lived this way I thought. But I was wrong.
When you watch TV, you get an idea of what it means to have a family. Those families usually share the same values. Sure they argue, and they get into trouble, and they have their ups and downs. But they handle the situations in a HEALTHY manor. They address situations. They talk about them. They are vulnerable to each other. They are understanding of one another. They are transparent. I think that’s why I loved watching TV so much. Boy what I would do to be one of the kids I was watching on TV. Able to tell his mom the story of his first kiss. Or his first time getting drunk, having sex. Being able to ask her advice on how to treat a woman on a first date. How amazing would life be? If only I knew that that’s how life was supposed to be. That’s what love was. That’s what intimacy was. That’s what I never had.
It took me 21 years to tell my mother I loved her for the first time. I was never raised that way. I have never heard I love you from my mom and dad so I didn’t know if it were ok for me to say it. That’s why my concept of love and intimacy has been so screwed up my whole life. I have never been exposed to it. Am I saying my parents didn’t love me? HEAVENS NO. But I am saying I learned to understand love in a different manor.
My dad for instance. Spent his whole life working. Day in and out from sunrise to sunset working tirelessly. Why was he working? To support his family of course. I was the youngest so I was spoiled the most. My father gave me anything and everything I ever asked for. THAT’S how he knew to show his love to me. It wasn’t through emotions. Or talks about the birds and the bees. Or comforting me through my break ups. It was through his understanding of what it meant to be a man and what his job was to do in this life. Which was to make sure his family had everything they ever wanted. The more I grew up the more I wished it were different. For example, he drove me to the airport every time I went to a different city during my first tours in 2011-2013 and each trip I wished we would be talking about his childhood. I would close eyes and imagine him telling me about what it was like to live in Palestine. How HIS first break up was like. What HIS first experience with weed was. Uhhh. How do I know my dad smoked weed before? Come on now. Be real. But, those conversations never happened. They normally consisted of where I was going. How much money I was making and things along those lines. Nothing of substance.
Now my mother. You see. In my book my relationship with my mother is going to be SUCH a big moment and couple of chapters I do not want to begin on that here in this introduction. But I hope me withholding this information sheds some light as to how big my mother is in my life and who and why I am the way I am today.
Back to the double life. But jumping ahead of course. At the age of 18 I was exposed to something I wish I were never exposed to. My addiction. Now I know you’re hoping I am going to reveal to you what my addiction is. But not now MAYBE when my book comes out. But not now. But I do want to explain it’s importance in my life. You see I already lived a double life from a young age. But now I had an outlet to ACT OUT in my double life. What that meant was using my addiction as an escape to my real life. How this works is simple. Normally, if I were to feel an emotion, I would address it then and there. I would talk it out or work it out with whoever it was involving and I would have an intimate moment. But with my addiction i didn’t have to. No matter what happened in my life, I had an escape and a solution to the situation. My addiction. It was my go to. No matter what I was feeling; stress, anger, frustration, sadness, happiness, it was celebrated and managed through my addiction. So what this does is suppress my real feelings and get me to momentarily feel better about my situation. At first, this was HEAVEN. No one had to know. No one got hurt. I felt better and I NEVER, EVER had to deal with any emotion or stress in my life ever again.
This was the beginning of my hell. This was the time and say I stopped growing emotionally and spiritually. This was the day I sold my soul and lost every ability to understand myself and progress as a person. This was the end of my life. But I wouldn’t know that until the age of 24 when I came to the realization of how bad my addiction had become and how much it had ruined my life.
At that point though, it was too late. I was living in a double life. I was isolated. I was depressed and I didn’t want to live anymore. But the truth is, I didn’t want to live a lie anymore, but I didn’t know what to do about it.
Something that might help you understand what this introduction is about is as follows. After i moved to LA and was living on my own. Life was rough. The reason it was rough is because for the first time I wasn’t living under the pressure of how I was supposed to be living. Meaning I didn’t have to sneak out or back in the house. I didn’t have to lie to my parents about where I was going or what I was doing. I wasn’t accountable to anyone anymore. Only myself. Self exploration. The beauty of life. This is going to be a very condensed version of the next story but here it goes.
My tattoo. One day, under the influence of weed I decided to get a tattoo and an earing. Yes. That randomly. I was sitting in my acting class and I had an itch. The itch wasn’t about the tattoo. The itch was about me wanting to begin living in my truth and the life I wanted to live. So what did I do? I got up. Went to Venice Beach and did it. I got my first tattoo and an earring in both ears. I felt like that’s what I had to do to understand myself as a person. I felt like that’s what finding myself was about. I thought that was the beginning to the rest of my life. After I got the tattoo I felt no remorse. No regret. It felt amazing. So two or so days later I went to another tattoo parlor and got an even bigger tattoo. Where did I get these two tattoos? On my forearm.
I went home that night for the sake of the story at about 8PM. I had myself a huge piece of an edible and sat on my couch. 45 or so minutes later. Welcome, Judgement.
I began having a nervous break down. I was pacing around my apartment confused, scared, anxious and full of fear. What have I done?! A tattoo?! A tattoo?! OMGOODNESS HOW COULD I GET A TATOO!? What were people going to think!? What was my MOTHER going to think!? And that my friend is where the problem was. It took me well over a year after the fact but now it all makes sense. My regret and resentment was never towards the tattoo. It was towards the judgement I feared that would come from my mother finding out about the tattoo. It was the fear from my audience ( 95% Muslim ) at the time would think of my tattoo. Everyone was going to hate me. Everyone was going to say fame changed me. But what?! Fame? This has nothing to do with fame. This has to do with me trying to finding myself as a person. Make my life decisions. My choices! No you fool. You changed. You’re a horrible person. You’re going to burn in hell. Your uncles and aunts are going to hate you. Your mom is going to never be able to look at you the same way again. Your life is over. You disobeyed your religion and this time you can’t hide it in your double life because it is now a part of your life. It was on my fore arm, EVERYONE was going to see it. I couldn’t hide from it.
I rushed to the bathroom and for an hour or so scrubbed it manically in the shower crying and screaming and punching the walls. It had to come off. It couldn’t stay. I wouldn’t be able to live with it on my forearm. I rushed to my computer and sent my mom an email. The email wasn’t to confess about the tattoo. The email was to express my love for her and how I was sorry for all the times I disobeyed her in my life. The email was sent out of shame, guilt and fear. Fear from what was taught to me about religion. Fear of judgement of what everyone was going to think about me. That was the problem with my double life. I was living a lie. I wasn’t living for myself I was living for what peoples opinion of me were. I would say whatever I had to say, do whatever I had to do in order to be liked. I wasn’t liked for who I was. I was liked for pretending to be who I had to be in order for them to like me.
(Next chapters will be about my bouts of suicide. Depression. Weight gain. And painful tattoo removal.)
In 2014 I believe, I posted a Video on YouTube explaining why I wanted to end my life. In the video I broke down in tears and told everyone that I felt guilty about what I had done and felt sorry. What I was really doing was what I did in terms of my relationship with my mother. I was saying what I needed to say and what I thought they wanted me to say in order for them to accept me and love me and not judge me. I wasn't saying what I believed and was not living in my TRUTH. I was reverting to my double life version of my life who was scared, timid and thought he had to be perfect in order for others to love him.
Jumping to the present 2015. Just recently I posted an instagram post expressing my feelings for the tattoo. I said something about it holding no value in my life anymore and that I was now OK with my mistake and that everyone makes a mistake. The problem with the post was, I was still lying to myself. (And this next part summarizes my WHOLE introduction) The problem was, I didn’t think the tattoo was a mistake. I, Yousef Saleh Erakat LIKED the tattoo. I WANTED the tattoo. Fear, Judgement, Religion, Shame, Guilt made me regret the tattoo. Peoples opinions of me made me regret the tattoo. I removed my tattoo so my mother would be happy. So my audience wouldn’t judge me. So people would accept me. Love me. I never learned what LOVE was growing up remember? My idea of love was so screwed up that all I knew was that in order to be loved I had to do what would cause people to not judge me. I had to hide in my double life. I had to pretend to be the perfect person I was acting to be again.
I don’t regret the tattoo. I regret removing the tattoo.
The tattoo isn't the sole purpose of this writing. It is a small aspect that if you look deep enough you will find what is really being conveyed here.
With that being said. My depression was never cured from my breaks from YouTube because I was always living a double life. Without KILLING one side of me I was never going to be cured from my depression. A friend recently told me. “I didn’t want to say this earlier fully but now that you’ve made the connection, I can tell you straight out, all of your issues, depression, addiction and so on are tied into your parents and their beliefs. You will never be happy until you stand in your own truth. Stand in what YOU believe, stand in what YOU know is right for you and YOUR life.”
Today I was sitting in the gym steam room when it suddenly clicked. 25 years of my life suddenly made sense. My depression. My addiction. My sadness. My obsession with wanting to die. My inability to love. Was ALL because of the little boy who never knew how to live his own life making his own decisions and his own mistakes because of fear instilled in him from judgement brought on by a loving mother and her belief in religion. Until I accepted that I could no longer live as two people I would NEVER be able to be happy. I had to kill myself. Or a version of myself. I had to accept who I was. I had to stop seeing my decisions as sins and mistakes and seeing them as my TRUTH. I had to let my mother and father know who I am and what my life is going to be like and NOT what they wanted it to be for me. I had to be free. I had to liberate myself. And suddenly, I was.
I was free. Liberated. Instantly. In that moment I knew what it meant to be happy. I knew what I had to do. I knew how I had to live. Suddenly, no judgement said by ANYONE (on the internet) in my real life, or even from myself could affect me. As long as I stand in my truth and have no evil within myself, then NO evil from the outside could affect me. 25 years man. It took 25 years for me to learn why I was depressed, unhappy and wanted to die instead of to live.
Man. If anything I am sorry for condensing 25 years of my life into a couple of crummy, poorly written paragraphs. The desire to START living in my truth was for too important for me to wait for an opportunity for a book or something on a bigger scale. It reminds me of the day I found out that what I had been doing since the age of 18 was indeed a serious addiction and I called my GF at the time to tell her the news because I was just THAT excited to tackle on the next chapter of my life. haha. (Bad decision.)
This helps me start my new life. This helps me stop walking around living a double life. Well not completely because I still have all my skeletons in my closet but it surely is a DAMN good start. I am tired of walking around full of shame and guilt with the inability to make eye contact with any new stranger in fear of them looking inside me and seeing ALL I do which I have thought to be bad sins my whole life because of the fear of judgement instilled in me as a little boy. I am ready to walk into manhood and accept who I am and begin my new life.
Now, if your concern through all this was, “when are you coming back to YouTube.” this is FAR bigger than YouTube. I could have continued vlogging everyday pretending like everything was just PERFECT but I would have continued living a lie. I didn’t want to keep showcasing a life that wasn't worth showcasing. Now I’m not saying I’m not a good person. That’s actually quite the opposite. I know who I am. I know what I’m capable of. I know what my truth, my story, my future means to so many out there. But I had to take a step back for myself. Normally a realization like this is kept in private and is an intimate moment. But I am now trying to explain to MILLIONS of people worldwide who have gotten a glimpse or an idea of who I am, who I truly am. It’s my new itch. I want everyone to meet the real me. The new me. That’s why I’m tweeting about it. In hopes that somehow someway I can get everyone to understand this awakening. I know hands down through this process I am going to lose tons of support. But thats the BEAUTY of what’s going on. I do not care anymore. I am not a slave for approval anymore. I am free of judgement. I am free from wanting to please others. I am accepting of myself.
AHHHHHH! This ends my train of thought. If you’re wondering what all this is about. It’s more so for me than you. I am an 18 year old who is just now figuring out who he is at 25 turning 26 in January. This might be something small to you but this is ASTRONOMICAL in my life. This is the biggest thing I have ever gone through and the biggest spiritual awakening I have gone through. More than anything I want to express this in an artistic video format but quite frankly I don’t have the capacity or help to do that right now so I can’t. But I will be discussing this in vlogs starting this weekend. The more I release and the more I dissect from my life the more people I expect to lose and the more people I expect to give up on me and my story. And that is A-OK. This isn't about YouTube anymore. This isn't about my videos anymore. This is about me finding out who I am as a person and becoming the person I should have become a long time ago.
Upon posting this, I have not re read a single line. I do hope you made it this far and if you do want me to open up more about certain topics and write this in a bigger format, please let me know.
Thanks for letting me share.