Before I launch too deeply into this post, let me just say that right now, I’m not depressed! I’m actually very well adjusted and happy most of the time. I was extremely depressed for a while, but I’m not now, and I haven’t been for a while.
Most of my life, there have been times where I was really very down. When I was much younger, I had some anger management issues. I got into tons of fights. I did property damage. I started off as a runt with a chip on my shoulder, and I took everything way, way too seriously. I was a bright kid, and I was imaginative and energetic. I’m sure my sister could probably describe my younger years a bit more accurately.
I’m not going to draw this out too much. I don’t think anyone wants to read all of the highlights and low points of my life. Not in a daily blog post. In terms of depression, though, I’ll just roll out the highlights reel: my Dad’s death, my early struggles with religion, falling in love only to have her run off with another man, joining the Air Force for perhaps the wrong reasons, finding myself alone, away from my family and friends, stationed in the New Mexico desert.
That’s a super succinct rundown of some of the darker moments in my life. There’s a lot I could say about all of those things, but I’ll spare you. Consider yourself spared, today.
That highlight reel marks points where I was really, really down, and for good reasons. I was healthy enough to get through those times, one way or another. I didn’t seriously consider taking my own life during those low points.
In 2010, however, I was down enough that it was at the forefront of my mind. I made plans. I did the research.
Upon reflection, the things that happened in 2010 weren’t any worse than the things that had come before. I just didn’t handle it very well.
That was the year that Melissa and I almost divorced. I moved out for a while. I had a remote girlfriend. I was reaching and grasping for things to pull me up and out. I wanted to escape. I felt lonely, and misunderstood, and I made some poor decisions.
Then I saw that the remote girlfriend wasn’t the answer, and that I was hurting my children, and I knew that I loved Melissa, even if she didn’t seem to understand me all that well, and I came home. We made amends.
That’s when I hit the bottom. That’s when I felt the most like I wasn’t my own person any longer, and I didn’t see a way out. That’s when I felt the loneliest. I was working for a life insurance broker, and after I found out that my family would receive death benefits even if I committed suicide, it was all I could think about. It was a way out, and I considered coldly.
I wound up seeking some help. I was offered medication, if I wanted it, but I turned it down. During this time, one of my closest friends tried to get me some help, but he did it in such a way that it felt like a cowardly gesture, and a betrayal of trust. I haven’t been all that close to him since.
Looking back, I don’t see how I climbed up and out of the dark place. I know that WorldCon in 2011 was a big help, because it helped me remember who I am.
I think that returning to writing was the real medicine. I started to feel like my true self again. Playing my sax in a band helped too, I’m sure, but not nearly as much as the writing.
Pol had written about the schism of his life, and seeing all the different parts and the chaos around, and he put forth a question about how to find the harmony in all the discord. I tried to suggest that faith might be part of the answer. I don’t necessarily mean faith in God. I mean faith, as in knowing and acting on something you cannot know through the empirical senses.
I think that’s what happened with me. I started acting in faith, knowing that I was a person I couldn’t really see any longer. And after I began moving, I was the person I believed in. I think that’s how I dealt with the depression, and it’s how I’m able to look at the dark parts of my past with a kind of wonder.