Sunday, January 17, 2010

I am an outsider

My depression is really kicking my ass this winter, more than I've experienced in well over ten years. The shitty thing about this depression is that it isn't situational. I just have to ride it out. There are issues that feed my anger but those issues aren't going to change so I cope with them. I hope I don't end up sounding crazy but I need to get some thoughts out. Nobody reads this anyway.
One of the things that keeps me feeling like an outsider is my job. The place I work is so conservative. I worked there a long time before taking almost a year off to do music and film. Sometimes the body language of people in administration there send me the message that "you're being watched. better watch your step. don't make waves." It could just be me but I know that I am a pretty good observer of human behavior. The reason it bothers me is that I know I do good work, some would say that I am one of the secret weapons (of strength) of the agency, and yet I feel scrutinized like I'm some kind of invader. And the situation is just typical of history. Outsiders are not understood usually until they are dead and rediscovered in a new context where their actions suddenly make sense. Call me grandiose but that's how I feel. Here in Nebraska, conformity is practically demanded. Unfortunately the values that the midwest pushes on everybody exclude real sensitivity to different cultures. Let me just be blunt, the midwest is white-bread and blind to this fact. I am sent subliminal messages constantly by local media and the way I am regarded when shopping that being black is still a problem for Nebraska unless I am an athlete. It just happened to me. I was at a restaurant minding my own business when this older man stops and says "you're a ball player aren't you? You got the height for it." He had no idea how insulting his comment was. I listen every morning to the news on KFAB and am angered every day by the judgmental bigoted comments that come from their announcers. I used to call and complain. They will not take my calls anymore. What the hell is that about?!
One more issue. I am a fairly well known musician in Omaha. I've done a lot of things over the years but I notice how I can easily get gigs when I'm playing with the young white folks but doors are not open when it's just me trying to get my music heard. I don't think I am imagining these things. Bottom line is that it hurts. It hurts so bad I can't even get tears to come out. It would be so helpful if someone just said they understood what I'm saying.


  1. Hello sir, this is Rob. (Faded Glory on facebook) I hear you loud and clear, believe me. I see it too my friend trust me. Sad thing is, I would be willing to be it isn't just the mid-west that is like this... I bet it is all over, maybe not AS bad though.

    Just sayin' I get ya for sure. Just know there are people who respect you and know how awesome of a person you are. Hell I've only met you twice and I think you are one of the coolest people I've ever met~!

  2. I feel you, Dereck. I have clinical depression too. This winter has been the worst in quite awhile. Hard to keep up a positive attitude. I face my "being out of the box" a problem professionally as well. Because I am a "crazy artist/dancer type," I don't have the same credibility as my conservative, republican conformists. When I try to implement new ideas, I'm faced with endless eye-rolling. When I don't wear my hair in a "nurse helmet" do, I'm shunned, ie, Oh you know her....she's a little "different." My tolerance for other cultures, sexual orientations, religions and lifestyles has brought me all sorts of exclusion. There really is a "sheep" mentality and to be frank, I've thought of leaving Nebraska for that very reason. You've been all over the world, Dereck, so you have a more striking contrast by the exposure to many more cultures.

    I will offer this to you, there is light at the end of the tunnel and you will feel better. I know this as an 18 year sufferer of depression. I appreciate you and there are hundreds all over the midwest and all over this globe who admire and love your music and your gentle spirit. Keep on, keepin' on, man!!

    Joan S.

  3. Dereck, after reading this, I really feel that I need to drop a few lines here. I just met you once last year, and this was extremely touching for me. Even tough, we only had a "little chat" in between your gig and mine, this conversation really moved me. To me you are a very interesting and colorful person. You inspired me in my music, and I really have a bad feeling, that i did not take the time yet to work on the piece of music you sent to me, but as all excuses start: I've been very busy.

    I am convinced that you are a great person, and it really is a pitty, that there is a quite long distance between Omaha and Salzburg, however, I love to keep track of your life, and if some greater powers allow it, I am shure we will meet again.

    You are a wonderful person! Thanks!

  4. Derek, I know you are depressed. I wish I could take that away for you. People with your kind of talent, and without the kind of resources of those with "connections", are often ignored or dismissed.
    I want you to know that I recognize your description of work, the patronizing way people with mental illness are treated, the expectation that we will fall They know what you need better than you do. You are better than that. You expect people to succeed. Your fleeting presence in my life leaves me feeling blessed.
    There have been times when I've seen the world so clearly that it hurts...more than hurts.... It hurts so badly it is frightening. It is more than I can take for long. I believe there is truth in what I see during those times, but I must look at the world through the eyes of people who make it better. That is the only chance we have...the only chance the world has. Through those eyes, your color doesn't make you less than. Through those eyes, an illness doesn't make you less than. Through those eyes, you can fly!

  5. If you think surviving depression in this city is hard because you feel like an outsider try actually being one.... lots and lots of people love and appreciate Dereck Higgins. I know that race relations suck and I know you feel the extension of it in your workplace despite the invaluable work you do. Some people are too beautiful for common folk to understand. For me however, the isolation I feel because I am virtually invisible in this city of cliques has made me mute at times. I have so much beauty, talent, and love inside me and because I am a humble, introvert I have little need advertise this fact. I must try because I am a business owner, but mostly I conjure up feelings of belonging because I know I need to make my mark in order for my biz to survive.

    This winter has definitely taken its toll on many.

    To top it all off, I moved to this city to be with the love of my life. The one connection I truly felt was secure has morphed into something I am now not sure of and I feel even more isolated than I did before. But I digress...

    Isolation and depression are robbers of our souls. I pray that you feel the "Love From Above" in your song (one of my favs) and I hope that we will be precious friends forever despite what the future holds.