So, May was Mental Health Awareness Month. And, boy, was I aware. It’s June now (thanks for the update, Morg), and I’m finally ready to let it out.
We all know I wrestle with depression, I’ve shared stories and reflections of my struggles with this little bitch, but it’s always been after the fact. After the worst of it. After I’ve climbed out of the hole. When I’m back to business—when I’m myself again, when I’m functioning, when I’m okay.
Well, folks, not today. Now, I’ll admit, I’m not sitting at the very bottom of the depression pit at this precise moment. Close, but not quite. That was a couple weeks ago. When I spent three days in bed only getting up to pee (I didn’t even lose any weight, btdubs, which is kind of BS if you ask me but whatevs). The bottom of the pit was the constant mental crusade I fought—deciding to stay or go. Knowing how much I’d hurt my family. Knowing I might very well destroy them.
If I were stricken with some terminal disease and I wanted to die “on my own terms,” everyone would be chill. I mean, they’d be upset, sure. My mom would, probably. But I’m not gonna compare depression to cancer or whatever other terminal disease kills a 25-year-old person because that’s just in terrible taste. But terminal disease or not, death sentence or not– this is getting really old. It never stops. The ups and downs, the highs and lows. I’ve been doing this since I was 12 fucking years old. And at some point, you have to ask yourself:
How long can I keep living solely to shield my family from the pain it would cause to lose me?
It’s very exhausting. Living your life for other people. We’re constantly told to “be yourself, just be yourself.” Well, quite frankly, I don’t know who the fuck that is. I feel like this puzzle that simply cannot be solved; a complete enigma. I think, maybe, we all are. I have unanswered questions coming out of my ass. Why am I here? What am I supposed to be doing here? Why can’t I be like normal people–go to college, get a good job, start a family? Why am I doing THIS? Pursuing an ineffably tumultuous and unpredictable career with absolutely no security whatsoever? CAN I do this? Do I have the talent to do this? Where do I go from here? What do I really want to do? Who do I want to be? What would make me happy? What MAKES me happy? Well, that one’s easy. My family. My recliner. Grey’s Anatomy. Crossword puzzles. Correcting grammar. But those aren’t occupations; they’re not sustainable methods of living. I have no idea where to go from here. I’m in the midst of writing my first script. And, honestly, I don’t know if I can write a script. I do not know. I can write a blog. I can write an essay. I can write an article. I can be poignant, I can be funny, I can be witty. I can write a pretty darn good piece of work. But can I do a script? Can I do dialogue? Why can’t I translate my wit from real life to paper? Why can’t I create a story? Is it in my head? Is there a process I need to manufacture? What the hell is stopping me? And if I can’t do it…if I really don’t have the talent (and I mean TALENT, not some slightly above-average bullshit) …then what the fuck do I do? Where do I go from here? What do I do with my life? What’s the point? Is there a point? Can I really live 50-60 more years simply to spare my family the pain of losing me? I love them that much. I do. I could do it. But I can’t live like that. No one can. I find myself questioning God, Allah, and whatever deity may or may not exist time and again the same question: why? Why did you let this sperm win? Why did you make me like this?
And it’s funny. A lot of people don’t quite get it. I can’t begin to expound upon the number of times I’ve been asked how I could possibly be depressed. “You’re smart! You have a Notre Dame degree! You have so much going for you! You’re hilarious!” And, while I do agree that I’m a riot, it doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change the fact that sometimes I’m balls-deep in a positively ineffable pain. An overwhelming darkness that not even the damn sun could overcome. Yeah, I do have a Notre Dame degree. And that’s pretty cool–to accomplish something I dreamt of my whole life. I am pretty damn funny. And that’s pretty cool, too. I love to make people laugh. I love to provide an outlet for people to just…be. When everything else goes to shit. An outlet to breathe. To remember why they’re here–that not everything is complete shit. That despite the calamity and chaos, there’s still hope. There’s still a reason to keep going. A reason to stay. I like to give them something I know they need; that they deserve. I may not be able to do it for myself, but I can damn sure help fix someone else.
I remember a couple years ago when Robin Williams committed suicide. I remember people finding it so confounding that such a humorous man could harbor such grating pain.
“But he was so funny! He lit up a room! He made everyone so happy! More cliché things people say when someone offs himself!”
Which is a terribly ignorant reflection—a shallow, untapped reflection.
He lit up a room. But people so often forget that the light runs out at some point. What happened when the room emptied? What happened when the audience left?
He didn’t need to shine his light anymore, that’s what happened. And he returned, day after day, to the darkness that enveloped him. The darkness no one could recognize because they were blinded by his light—the only facet of his being they were privy to.
We were so blinded by his light–his arresting, extraordinary light–that we failed to see his darkness.
And that’s really all we need–someone to see our darkness.
I’m not sharing this with you because I want your sympathy. I’m not sharing this with you because I want your pity. It’s quite the opposite, really. Mental illness is a silent struggle for a reason—most of us don’t want to talk about it. Because it’s embarrassing. Because it’s uncomfortable. Because it hurts. Because it fucking hurts.
But that doesn’t mean we can ignore it. We can’t. We have to acknowledge it. We have to try. Try and help. Try and be there—in whatever capacity we can. Whether that means talking someone off the ledge or simply holding their hand. We have to be aware. We have to try. Depression is lonely. Depression is painful and exhausting and impossible. But most of all, it’s lonely. So, we have to do this together.
For me, it’s daily phone calls with my parents, my brother, my dog, and my nuggets. It’s my friends dragging my ass out of the house to our favorite workout. It’s driving out to Zuma Beach to watch the sunset, resting my head on my best friend’s shoulder.
Because we need other people. People need other people. So, do it—let them in. It’s going to be hard. But that’s how you do it. That’s how you climb out.
People. We need people. It’s going to hurt, it’s going to suck. But you’ll find your way out. And you won’t be alone.
You are not alone.
Here’s a collage of some of my humans. They’re pretty rad and shit.