So I’m not really entirely sure where to start here. My parents weren’t the best. My dad was/is an asshole, most of my moms shortcomings were in part due to the hell he put her through. Nevertheless, she didn’t make things any better. My dad worked the trifecta on me; we had first fights off and on since I was 12, mentally he instilled in me that I’ll never be good enough, showing emotion meant I was weak, anything I was ever given meant I was indebted to him, I was a nuisance and I wasn’t wanted. Actually, on multiple occasions he said my older brother was conceived on purpose, my little sister was a surprise and I was an accident. So I grew up detached from everyone/anyone. I learned to cut my emotions on and off like a light switch, breaking down only when I was completely alone. I was angry all the time, because I didn’t want to be sad so I let it turn to anger. I did wrestling/boxing/mma to try and work that anger out but the only time I really felt a release was when I would get my ass kicked. I developed insomnia, not sure if that stemmed from head trauma from the fighting or from my wreck but it was another problem even still. I started smoking and drinking at an early age to further numb the pain and quiet the voices. I was a full blown alcoholic before I even finished high school, but no one knew about it. Everyone just thought I liked to party, I was the class clown, “free spirit.” I got involved in a car club early on. Kind of chased any sort of rush that would take my mind off of things. I never thought of myself as suicidal, never had thoughts of hurting myself or anything, but with all the things I involved myself in I definitely didn’t care if something happened to me. I had a lot of problems, a lot of vices, I refused to label it depression. On some level I knew it was, but in my mind that was a weak thought and I refused to be weak.
It’s okay to not be okay.
Depression isn’t weakness. In all actuality, we’re stronger because of our depression. We’re more thoughtful because of our depression. We know what it’s like to feel worthless so we try to keep others from feeling that pain.
When I turned 19, after dropping out of college and hitting a real low in my life, I got some help. I went to AA. I stopped making excuses for myself. I faced my problems head on. It wasn’t easy. Hell, I still struggle with things. I still fuck up. I’m not perfect. But I don’t stop trying. I started to understand and embrace my depression. Time had given me wisdom, it had given me strength. When I found my demons, in the darkest places of my mind, I didn’t fight them, cast them out or destroy them. I embraced them. I spent a good portion of my life trying to drown them, numb them and ignore them. All that did was bring the rest of me down to their level.
In our darkest places there is still beauty to be found. We can either choose to deny them their power and let our ignorance wither away our souls, or recognize their potential to build. There’s a calmness that comes with that clarity.
For so long I hated these parts of me, call it cynicism or realism that consumed me but it brought the realization that good men are built from hard times. The better parts of ourselves lay the foundation, but the darkness within us built the walls up to trap our demons inside. From there we flourish.
If you can live with the devil, nothing outside the door can break you.
I’m not here today because I beat my demons. My depression didn’t disappear. Life didn’t get any easier. I’m 25, divorced, a single dad, and I have days where I can’t get off the couch. Life isn’t perfect. But that doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful. Doesn’t mean I’m not happy, I am, I think. Most days.
What saved me was finding healthy outlets. Depression isn’t a physical pain. For inward pain to be released it has to have a physical outlet. Different feelings need different outlets. I still box, helps get some of the anger out. For me though, the best outlet I found was my music. Between writing my thoughts out, then shaping them into lyrics (or ill add to my mental health novel I’ve been working on for a decade now) and then taking those negative thoughts and those bad memories and giving them a positive spin I found real peace. My song “Honey, I Fucked Up the Kids” is dark as hell. It’s about my abusive father. But when I play it, it has this upbeat, fun vibe to it. Point is; you have to find your outlet, take those negatives and convert them into positives. My lyrics are all dark, I’m an emo kid, but when I play them.. I’m jumping around. I’ll yell/scream the parts that cut the deepest. I’ll cry when I sing my divorce song. I’ll do whatever feels right, whatever releases that energy inside.
Honest to God though, the best thing you can ever do is just open up to people. Share your shit. You’re not alone. The people around you might not know how to start that conversation. Start it for them. Help each other. Be that light.
Between the music, the novel, exercise, pursuing my business goals and being the best damn dad on the face of the planet to my beautiful little girl.. I’ve found my peace.
Life still isn’t easy, but I’m not alone.
It’s okay to not be okay, reach out. I’ll be there for you if no one else is. I’ll be there for you even if everyone is.
I feel like I kinda jumped all over the place and I probably left some things out, but that’s my story I guess haha