Interviewing Tyree was a real eye-opening experience. He has been through so much in his life and has taken all of the pain that he’s faced in life and has manifested it creatively through artistic outlets like music, and writing. Tyree was so kind to share something so private, and his story will leave you inspired.
Leland: Where are you originally from?
Tyree: I was born in Philadelphia, and lived there for about 7 years. I was living with my grandmother and eventually went to go live with my aunt in Delaware when I was about 8 and that’s who I live with now. Basically she took me away from my grandmother because she didn’t like how she was raising my sister and I. Also that’s her mother, and she knows how she acts so she doesn’t like how she chose to raise us.
Leland: So were both parents in your family picture? Who would you say is your main guardian?
Tyree: No, from what I’ve gathered and from what my aunt told me, I only lived with my mother and maybe my father for the first couple years. Apparently, my mother was on drugs when she had both me and my sister so she wasn’t really around. My dad wasn’t apparently that suitable to raise my sister and I and plus he had children from previous marriages and would tend to visit them, and then us and what not. So I went to live with my grandma for a few years and there I would see my dad occasionally like on holidays usually. Whenever I went to go live with my aunt, I saw a lot more of my family because they all were in Philadelphia during the holidays but the last time I saw my mother was probably in 2010 when she was living in an apartment somewhere out there. As far as guardian goes I would say my aunt is my guardian.
Leland: Did you really have any sort of father figure in your life growing up? What about siblings?
Tyree: No, not really I lived with women most of my life. I have a lot of siblings, I have seven altogether. Four of them are half siblings from my dad, then I have my full sister that I have been living with. Also, two of them are half-siblings from my mother’s side.
Leland: Was childhood a good experience for you? Any traumatic experiences? I know you didn’t have a stable family life, but other than that was everything in pretty good shape?
Tyree: I mean there was nothing traumatic, so overall it was pretty okay. Although I should say even as a child before this whole depression thing I still felt like I wasn’t enough. My aunt has really high expectations for me, and I’ve been getting really great grades for I don’t know how long, but I always felt like I wasn’t enough for her standards. So I’ve always felt that pressure even back then. It kind of weighed me down, but I was still relatively fine for a kid.
Leland: What was school like for you?
Tyree: Back then in elementary school, I was definitely a quiet kid who occasionally talked to a few people every now and then. I didn’t go to a huge school more or less everybody knew who I was but nobody really talked to me, besides saying “Hi” Overall I was just the quiet smart kid in that back that would obviously help other people when they needed it. So everyone knew who I was but I wasn’t really a popular kid.
Leland: Did you have a whole lot of friends growing up?
Tyree: I had a couple, I do distinctly remember one but back then I wasn’t allowed to go to their house’s so I never really developed outside of school. I got a group of friend’s when I moved towards where I live now in Delaware in 5th-6th grade.
Leland: When was the first time you found yourself going downhill with your depression, and thoughts of I’m not good enough to be alive? Did any of this have to do with your family situation?
Tyree: I can’t really remember because I feel like I’ve always had this pressure that had contributed to my depression. Altogether I feel like it unpacked and unfolded in 10th grade, but honestly, I don’t really know. I really hate trying to tell people this story because I don’t even really know honestly when everything happened. I mean it just all unfolded for some random reason.
Leland: What escalated you going downhill? What were your thoughts during that time?
Tyree: I think it was at that time (In 10th grade) that I had developed relationships with a few friends here and there but I just felt like any attempt to try to be more social was failing. I really felt like the whole thing was just myself thinking more inwardly rather than outwardly, others were telling me how my life was. I just became more depressed about myself, so that’s why in 10th grade I was like I’m going to kill myself. It was weird it just happened like that.
Leland: When did you realize that you hit rock bottom? Essentially when was the lowest point of your story? Was there a certain day?
Tyree: It was around November of 2013 when I was a sophomore in high-school, a girl at our school had killed herself. I didn’t really know her well that much, but she was a friend of a friend who I had hung out with a lot. I think it was on that day that the idea came up inside of my head and then for some reason I just started thinking way too much about it. Then I had just started planning how to kill myself. I thought if she did it, then I could do it too.
Leland: Was there ever a day that you planned killing yourself? If so, what was that like? What stopped you from committing?
Tyree: When the winter months came around, I felt like I would just copy her and kill myself in the bathroom. Then whenever school started back in January and February, I would bring a knife to school every other day because we had an even and odd day schedule. So on even days, I had something like writing classes in the mornings so I would just skip those classes and be in the bathroom the whole time. I would just sit there with a knife and I would just think about it. What stopped me wasn’t necessarily me thinking that I shouldn’t. It was really more like two instances that stopped me. One of them was music, at that time I was rapping with one of my friends and we were planning on making a mixtape. At the time I had been rapping for the past year and a half or so. So in my head, I had all these raps written down and I didn’t want to leave until I had something recorded at least regardless if it was ever put out or not I just wanted something recorded before I ended it. So when I brought the knife to school I was like okay I’m going to wait until the weekend when we record then I’ll go. Every weekend we didn’t end up recording so I kept putting it off for a couple of months. Then because of all that, I was skipping class during that day. I skipped a lot of classes and the teacher started getting worried and wanted to know where I was. There was a person that I shared a class with who was friends with somebody who was friends with my sister. So she more or less told my sister that I had been missing class. My sister then asked me on the school bus going back home “Where have you been going? Why are you skipping class?” Then I showed her my suicide note, and it wasn’t really a note but it was more so a set of instructions that I wanted to be carried out after I had killed myself. She cried, and then that weekend she sent an email to my school counselor saying she was worried about my health, and then I ended up having a conversation with him and my aunt, and that day I was checked into a mental health hospital.
Leland: What was it like inside of the mental health hospital?
Tyree: You basically can’t have anything. You can’t have your own shoe strings, can’t have cord’s obviously, you can’t even have pencils with rubber erasers. You can’t have any form of electronic’s except this TV that they had behind a wooden and glass display. There is really nothing, not even outlets, they probably hid those too so it was a very interesting experience with that alone. I had two roommates and they would always say stuff like “I shouldn’t be here” which I found interesting. They were both really cool though which was awesome. Every day was scheduled out, but overall it was pretty much the same every day. On a typical day, you’d wake up in your room, you’d go out to the living room, and then you go through the usual questions that they ask every morning. They would ask questions like have you had any suicidal thoughts? Are you hearing or seeing anything that you shouldn’t? just stuff like that. After that they’d take us back to our room, we’d shower, and clean up our rooms, and then we’d go back into a group. We’d usually have a topic that we were supposed to talk about to get the conversation rolling. People would delve into stories about their lives. After that they’d have a session where the high school kids would basically go to do English, math, etc. that their teachers had sent in. After that, you would go to lunch. Someday’s you would go to the gym so we would be there for like an hour and a half then there would be other session’s where we would talk about a certain topic and probably around that time we’d have visitation time, then dinner, and then whatever you wanted to do in your room. I had a notebook with me so I would just write down anything that I had thought about there.
Leland: How did you start regaining your life after you got out of the hospital?
Tyree: When I first got out of the hospital it was really weird, I had been there for 8 days without going outside, or having any form of electronics. It felt weird because I felt like a caveman just watching cars drive around, and just doing normal stuff like opening up my iPhone was weird. I’ve seen all of this stuff before, but it just felt weird getting to do it again. When you first get out and you have to go back to school, you have this period for a couple of weeks where you have to go to a different place, and then enter back into school so you are not forced into your normal routine all at once. You had to ride in a special van to go to that place and basically, you just had a couple of one on one sessions with counselors, and we would eat and hang out outside. All together it was pretty interesting, and the school obviously let the teachers know what had happened, and why I was missing class. Also for a few months, I had to go in every day to the dean of students office to show him my bag so he could make sure that I wasn’t carrying around a knife anymore. I also couldn’t go to the bathroom unless the teachers told security. Life got better eventually, I just had to learn how to deal with it. I hated school, and I hated the pressure that came along with it. I just had to learn how to deal with it even when I really really didn’t want to do anything. It’s just a matter of knowing what’s going to happen in the future. I didn’t even really pay attention to things like politics until last year because I honestly didn’t think that I would make it to 18. It’s weird to think of now because I’m still readjusting even though this was years back.
Leland: When did you realize you were successful with overcoming your depression?
Tyree: It was probably in my junior and senior year when I was writing more raps, and at that point, I was listening to a lot of music so I think music really distracted me from all the thoughts that I was having, and just writing it helped distract me as well. It gave me motivation because In my head whenever I gave somebody a verse, and it probably had dark lyrics, and whenever I would give it to them they would always ask “Are you okay?” I would always think I’m writing it down so I don’t do it in real life. Writing is therapeutic.
Leland: If you were to go back in time and talk to Tyree around sophomore year, what would you tell him? Would you do anything different?
Tyree: I never know how to answer that question because if I were to go back and tell him something I feel like even at that point he’d know that he didn’t commit suicide. I knew I had such a limited time here on earth so I feel like anything that I would say, he would have known already that I dealt with it and that I got help. There is somewhere that I could go into to stop making me feel these thoughts. As far as if there is anything I would do different, I don’t know. I don’t know if this is considered destiny, but I always feel like everybody has their one day, a day that changes their life forever. I feel like my one day was the day my friend told me about studying music production. If he had never told me that, then I wouldn’t be here right now studying what I am studying. So I mean I don’t think I would do anything different because of how good my life is now I don’t think I would change anything.
Leland: What is your new excuse to live life and why is life worth living?
Tyree: Since we are in college, we are basically learning real life stuff to find out how to make a career that will hopefully derive from the arts that we create. Hopefully, these careers will make us money, so I feel like the excuse is the thought that whether it be writing or being an audio engineer basically doing something that I like that I can live off of that I can eat because of. That excuse is a reason to be alive.
Leland: What is your purpose here on earth?
Tyree: It’s funny yesterday I was in my freelance and self-management class and we watched a TED talk on how to define our purpose in 5 minutes. The video basically asked us what our name was, what do we do, who do we do it for, what do those people need, and how do those people change because of it? So my name is Tyree Harris, I write, I write for anyone suffering so that they can feel better and not have to suffer too.
Tyree is an awesome dude, and as you can tell his story is quite remarkable. Tyree was able to find real hope in his life through being open and honest with his story and using his creative outlets to vent. Thank you so much again, Tyree for giving me the opportunity to be able to listen to your story. I know anyone who reads this who is going through the same things will leave inspired.
“Hope itself is a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords; but, like all other pleasures immoderately enjoyed, the excesses of hope must be expiated by pain.” ~Samuel Johnson