A friend of mine asked me “What’s making you depressed?”. And I was kinda surprised when I realized I haven’t been asked that question before.
And that’s a big question. A question I have never really answered in its entirety. So what the hell, I’m going to try. Sounds therapeutic.
I think it initially stems from childhood and being treated for ADHD. For years, I visited a doctor that I wasn’t fond of, had wires hooked up to my head, and was told to perform different activities and exercises on a computer while he analyzed the results. At the end of each session, I would sit in his office and hear how I could work on altering my thinking and how my mind worked to score higher on these “assessments”.
I felt like a damn science experiment. But in the beginning, I didn’t realize how abnormal this was. Then elementary school with resource room, extra time on tests and having to visit the nurse every day for my meds before lunch started.
By this time, a lot of confidence issues started to emerge as I took in how ADHD was impacting me and how I was treated in hopes of improvement and less hyperactivity. From Pre-k into today, getting in trouble for impulsive behaviors has been a continuous theme.
By middle school, this awkward transitional period of time lead to the typical challenges faced by most teenagers. Middle school is a mixing pot of hormones, sexual discovery, emerging (or lack of) social status and the development of social circles. I didn’t do too well with this. My first taste of a relationship ended in lessons learned but a breakup within a common social circle qued less invite to various social gatherings.
I suppose this was the first time I ever experienced depression. I was longing for friends, invitations, and the feeling of belonging. Naturally extraverted, I learned I don’t do well when alone. Boredom lead to sadness, and soon I found myself engaging in wrist cutting. While it only occurred a few times, I’ve carried that depressed feeling forward with me with differing intensities through to today.
Around this time, I went to a therapy session with the same doctor who had treated me for ADHD. I fucking hated it. Hated him. He was still located in the same office that had etched traumatic experience into my being.
I become numb after this.
Slowly I started pushing emotions down while heightening my logical tendencies. The way viewed the world slowly become more cynical. And then I met my first love. A relationship blossomed and lasted 2.5 years. Took me from near the beginning to the end of high school. But towards the end, I was a dick. I developed a complex about not wanting to end up with my first love. And it had nothing to do with her, she’s a beautiful and kind individual to this day. It had more to do with not wanting to be the cliche high school sweetheart couple. I don’t know what I thought such a seemingly beautiful thing was so undesirable.
The end of this relationship did have one profound benefit to me, through it I became set on going to college. An early starter, the party life took hold of me in the beginning of high school. This is when the self medicating had first begun. I loved leaving my body and life. I loved to party. Especially with my love at the time. And I think the partying is what oddly made me begin considering college with serious intent. As for a while, I had always been set on joining the military so I could die with some sort of purpose to my life.
By the beginning of senior year, my emotions were in the passenger set and logic was steering the ship. I ended the relationship to enjoy my senior year and the partying intensified. I developed an initially fun reputation as the party guy. But this reputation also tainted me. And I suppose I’ve carried that tainted reputation with me into today.
College came and I had no clue what I wanted to do. But I knew girls and partying sounded like an honorable pursuit. So I pursued. Along the way, I sort of stumbled into my first instance of purpose and suddenly, I was leading people. And I was good at it. By the end of my freshman year, I had gone from having zero self confidence or direction, to being a totally focused student leader who loved entrepreneurship, public speaking and partying. Lots and lots of partying.
Sophomore year, I got my first sniff of Management Consulting as I declared a second major and took on additional leadership roles on campus. I kept myself busy 24/7, rarely spending any time alone. And in retrospect it showed. I was so busy, I didn’t have time to be introspective and pay attention to the pain I had carried forward from adolescence and my teen years. Whenever I did start to feel, I’d drown it in partying and pointless conquests.
My upperclassmen years of college brought continued success, both as a student leader and partier. By the end of my junior year, I had completed consulting internships, had jobs on campus and found myself in a major student leadership role as student body president. Everything was on autopilot from the surface. I was cruising towards something great.
And then I met her. Multiple hers. The one that I almost had a crush on me, but I learned from it and gained confidence. And then I met my forever one that got away. The one that I still think about daily, and dream about weekly.
But I was a male senior in college, I couldn’t get tied down now. I was about to graduate and move across state lines to start a job talking over the world. At least that was the rational I presented myself to justify not making her the girlfriend my heart wanted her to be from the moment I met her.
Logic. I operated on what I thought was logical. I was infinitely career and good times oriented. College came to a close and I found myself speaking at commencement. The guy who hated public speaking going into college stood in front of over 10,000 people and delivered 4 commencement addresses. And they were well received. I still smile thinking about those moments. I was genuinely happy. So happy.
Two weeks later I received a prestigious job offer with a fall start date. And so the relationship I had wanted from the beginning started. From my point of view, it was magical. I still get goosebumps thinking about how it made me feel.
But I didn’t always put her first. I put my career first. By the time I started working, a long distance relationship began as a result of me moving out of state. And I had a lot of disposable income. And it burned a hole in my pocket and body. Bar tabs regularly amounted to hundreds. Extravagant travel was part of the job, and I used that to explore all of the best party locations the country had to offer. I went on weekend benders to make up for how unhappy and depressed 70 hour work weeks made me.
By the new year, the love of my life had moved in with me. And I was working longer and harder than ever. So I threw money at a disconnect that arouse between us. We traveled around the country together on weekends. It was amazing. Romantic. But it wasn’t what she wanted or needed from me. She wanted me to be present. To love her. I’d work 40-60 hours in 4 days and get home on Thursdays. She’d want to talk, live, laugh and love. I’d want to sit in silence drowning in alcohol or travel to forget how miserable work could be.
After nearly 4 months of this song and dance, she moved out. 3 month later, the relationship was over. And I was devastated. It truly look losing her to realize how much I love her. I could have married her. I still want to marry her. But she’s better off now. Her career began to blossom after leaving me. And she’s pursuing her dream. And I couldn’t be happier to watch from afar. It’s beautiful to see.
When she left, I went on a 47 day bender trip. Yeah, you read that. For 47 days, I didn’t return to my apartment. When I wasn’t working, I was traveling around the country, crashing on couches, doing laundry, repacking, finding the end of a bottomless glass and hitting repeat.
I was in a full blown spiral. Didn’t want to face my emotions. Didn’t want to take a break from work. And I desperately needed to. Summer turned to fall, the same song and dance continued. By the time the new year came, I was applying to graduate school, and a month later I left the job that I had worked 4 years to obtain, hopeful that a fresh state and start was what I needed.
It wasn’t. After 2.5 years in the latest job, I’ve now found myself back in the same place. Grad school has been good. Minus a 1 year delay I’ve incurred do to prioritizing work over my own education and growth. This past jobs has stoked the fire and added gas to what is now the deepest depression and suicidal ideation I’ve experienced.
And it shouldn’t come as a surprise. I’ve began to hit a new level of exceling throwing money at my fucked up soul. I bought a house, boat, and very high mile 2009 Range Rover all in the same month. Fucking self destructive asshole behavior.
So I sit here today reminiscing on what got me here. And I’m overwhelmed reading it all. I’ve never gone through what’s lead me to now before. And it feels freeing to have it on paper. To analyze it, understand it, learn and grow from it.
Maybe next time I’ll dive into the growth I’ve experienced as a result of all of this. And maybe I’ll write more about her too.