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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
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