Skip to content
Tag: jeffrey pillow
Back in September, I was in a dark place, and had been for about six to eight months. Outside of my wife, I’m pretty sure everyone else was oblivious to this fact, which is a bit of a scary thought. But that's how it goes, right? I was severely depressed and experiencing suicidal thoughts, which is not something I’m used to, to say the least.
To pause for a moment on the "suicidal thoughts" bomb I just dropped, I am not exaggerating for dramatic flair. This post, which I wrote on my birthday would also make a lot more sense to people now, too. I began keeping somewhat of a gratitude journal to combat these thoughts. So, when I say "suicidal thoughts," I mean that a voice kept whispering with a sharp tongue in my head words such as "I ought to kill myself," which is unlike anything I've ever experienced before. I've contemplated life and death before, but more from a philosophical slant, never in the way I experienced this past September.
Stress at work was astronomical. Feelings of isolation from friends and family on the personal front. Not my immediate family (wife and kids), but pretty much everyone else. I felt alone, worthless. There are people I was once close to that no longer exist, and there are those that exist on the periphery of my life I wish were less on the periphery and more in the primary or secondary tiers — at least from a communication standpoint, because I feel like some of these people get me, or at least, I can be me, no strings attached, with them. But life is life, and it doesn’t always play out like we want it to. We grow up, we grow older, we grow apart for one reason or another. There are rules. There are restrictions.
In an effort to pull myself up by my bootstraps (moreso, the laces of my Vans), I made a conscious effort to get out in public more and meet new people. “I think it’ll be good for me,” I told my wife. She agreed. I also went out and purchased a handful of tiny notebooks to capture my thoughts as I worked my way through this dark time.
Below are handwritten notes verbatim from one such time when I made the decision to dine alone for lunch at Timberwood Grill. Before we jump in, I will say it was a good experiment to partake in, as I found humor in the act of dining alone. More
I started writing poetry again back in March. I was walking through Northside library on Rio Rd. when I saw an announcement sitting atop a waist high shelf. It was a call for poems — a competition to be more precise — from WriterHouse, a Charlottesville-based writing community with a physical location on 508 Dale Avenue.
“Why not?” I thought.
A brief, soul crushing history of working in a bagel shop
Though I’ve never stepped in the front door, I’m familiar with WriterHouse. Years ago, after college, when I was searching high and low for a job, I briefly landed at Bodo’s Bagels on Preston Avenue. WriterHouse was literally next door. Working at Bodo’s paid the rent (mostly) and provided a free lunch. Granted, till this day, I won’t eat an everything bagel because I smelled enough garlic and onion flakes at 6 a.m. to last a lifetime.
Graduating college with dreams of being a full-time writer, only to find yourself working at a bagel shop, was soul crushing to say the least. Sure, it was temporary, I told myself. And so... More
Perhaps you should see a counselor. I’ve given this advice to a handful of people the last few years, and for good reason. From a mental health standpoint, it’s one of the single best decisions I’ve made in my life.
I understand taking the step in scheduling an appointment with a counselor is easier said than done. It’s also far easier than you think it is difficult. What’s holding you back, more than likely, is stigma and pride. I know because I’ve been there. When I went to the doctor for the first time shortly after my dad died, my doctor recommended I speak with a counselor. It was obvious I was experiencing grief and depression. She wrote down the name of someone, including the phone number. I didn’t have to do any digging on my part. She had done all the heavy lifting for me. All I had to do was pick up the phone and call.
I lied and said I would, and never did.
It would take me another five years to call the number my doctor had given me that day. All the while, I had slowly been dying on the inside by not addressing the lingering depression, coupled with anxiety, within me.
I’m not going to say I would be dead or lying in a gutter somewhere had I not started seeing a counselor, but I do think where I am today — mentally and even physically — can be partially attributed to me taking the initial step I had put off for too long: talking to someone.
I hope you will continue reading this essay... More
To quote the punk band the Descendents, “I like food. Food tastes good.” And, I think food is an apt metaphor as it relates to cooking up a novel or memoir, or even a short story.
It’s like deciding you’re going to create a gourmet meal without really knowing what the meal consists of. Sure, you know the main ingredient is chicken. You know salt and pepper will be needed. But there’s a big difference between baked chicken and chicken makhani. And, if you’re making chicken makhani, you probably should have an inkling of an idea what the ingredients are and what you’re doing. So it’s best to grab the peanut oil, garam masala, cayenne pepper, and ginger garlic paste at the grocery store before you start the dish, as opposed to starting your chicken makhani, then realizing you need those ingredients while your chicken makhani is already in the oven. Oh, by the way, chicken makhani doesn’t go in the oven. You cook it in a skillet on your stovetop.