What a wonderful, horrible ride the last two years have been. On New Year’s 2011 and 2012, I promised myself to breathe and not worry so much. Let’s go back 730 days ago — I had what my family doctor called “a serious mental breakdown.” Instead of immediately seeing a therapist and getting on proper medications to calm my nerves like my friends begged me to do (I hid the pain from my family in fear of worrying them), I packed my bags and moved to Austin, Texas, thinking my depression would go away in a brand new environment full of brand new people.
But despite having a great, supportive roommate (Neil Miller of Film School Rejects fame) and meeting some of the best people on this planet, moving there was a huge misstep in my life. Only living there a year and a half, I spent most of it drinking until I blacked out, lying to my doctor so I could get happy pills to temporarily cure the emotional pain I was feeling, arguing and fighting with everyone around me, and sleeping my free time away.
It’s strange because neither my mother or father had a history with alcoholism when I was growing up and I was taught to be well-mannered; my parents raised me to have a bleeding-heart towards people and to work hard. But, life throws a curveball here and there, and people need some form of temporary escape when it starts to suck the proverbial donkey dick. Some people go running, some listen to Death Cab for Cutie, but at this time in my life, dear reader, booze and lots of prescribed medications were what helped me escape. My love for watching movies and writing about them soon started to fade. And even though I was surrounded by some of the aforementioned wonderful people, I never felt so alone in the world.
I really didn’t know how to handle it, so I just raged with whiskey and the dangerously high dosage of pills my doctor gave me, and my body wasted away. I went from 189 pounds to 148. I had a death wish and didn’t know it. I tried to hide it as much as I could, but with being an online journalist and very active on Twitter and Facebook, a lot of people saw right through me. Some took advantage of my hypersensitivity and really took a go at breaking me, and some came to my aid to help me get the proper help that I needed, despite being unpleasant to them because I wasn’t in the right state of mind. (God bless the ones who were there for me because I know it wasn’t easy. I should have been more tactful about the way I handled the love you were giving me, but I was damaged and forgot how to be a friend.)
At the time, it became clear my then-paralyzed life was incapable of getting better. I was a broken record. As a result, a lot of my good friends gave up on me and moved on — they did all they could do to help me and there was nothing left for them but to pity me, and who wants to do that? So like any level-headed person would, they moved on.
That was it. I had hit rock bottom. I was on a road to nowhere. I stopped caring about everyone, including myself. Because of this unbearable depression, I lost a lot of great friends along this awful journey. Life 180’d and people who used to respect me now despised my existence. Reality bit me and I realized I was losing everything I worked so hard for.
To try and breathe again, I did what I knew best: I ran from my problems. I moved to L.A. in hopes for new beginnings (again). The transition was a motherfucker because, even though L.A. is a small place to get around (compared to Dallas and Austin), the people I knew out here were busy with work and life and I didn’t know how to make new friends (at the time I was working from home). So I spent half of my first year here alone, sitting on my couch, watching movies and drinking bottles of whiskey until 6am. I didn’t want to leave my apartment, just watch movies and drink until I passed out. Then a new door opened up — I got an incredible job offer and took it. It was then that I decided to put down the bottle until I could handle drinking like an adult and fix what I could from my past, and get the proper help that I so desperately needed. Things slowly started improving. With some minor upsets (life is funny sometimes), I slowly started getting back to be the nice man I used to be long ago. If I said I was all better and everything was all good right now, I’d be lying. I still have a bit of a journey ahead of me, but I’ve come a long, long way from where I was two years ago.
I’ve re-learned how to love and appreciate the value of friendship, and those are two feelings I never want to lose sight of again. I’m not proud that I did, but I’m human and eventually wised up and stopped fermenting the lemons life gave me to get drunk and push people away.
All that said, this article isn’t meant for pity or as a cry for help. This is me letting the ones I hurt know that I have finally found peace. This is my coming-of-age story (for someone too old to be coming-of-age) and it’s comforting to say, without a doubt, that I’m finally feeling what I’ve ached for, for over two years now: happiness.
As of January 1, 2013, I’m working hard at my job (that I adore) and am more focused on my writing than I have ever been. I hope to be as kind as possible to people I cross paths with, even to the ones who know how to trigger my roller coaster of emotions with an arsenal of piercing insults. And I want to give comfort to my friends when they’re hurting. Life is too short and I don’t want to die hating people who I’ve hurt or have hurt me. I know uphill battles lie ahead of me and depression will linger if and when it wants, but I can now handle it.
So I take to the Paul McCartney-written song famously covered by Guns N’ Roses for my New Year’s resolution: Live and Let Die.
Happy New Year to everyone. Yes, even you. And you. And you.