Out of the Pit (Part II)

***Imagine I posted this a month ago***

Let’s dive back in.

Four years ago, I wrote a post called Out of the Pit (Part I). I’m not kidding. The date was June 26th, 2018. In some ways, it isn’t shocking. Father’s Day was yesterday, and even though it’s been over 10 years, it’s a day that still stirs up a lot of emotions.

This year, I went to an early brunch with my sister and her family, at a big restaurant. I wasn’t too worried about it. We arrived on the earlier side, and it would be some time before folks piled in and packed it. It was full by the time we left, but oddly enough, the scene wasn’t triggering. I’m getting more comfortable in moments like these, but I still try to avoid certain situations on this particular holiday. I try to avoid big places like downtown Boston, places where I might see families together, celebrating a day, celebrating Dad. I never thought a day involving cheap ties and corny jokes could be so loaded. I think that I can handle it, that I’m okay, but there’s a part of me that protects myself nowadays. I’m sure I can handle being around other families, but why tempt fate? I have nothing left to prove anymore, not to anyone else, or even to myself.

Before writing this, I reread that old post, and I have to say, it surprised me. It was mostly about my couch, my depression couch, the couch where I’ve spent so much time relaxing, and at various times in my life, trying to muster up the energy to get off of it. It’s where I spent a lot of time in the months after dad passed. It’s where I would lie down and watch TV late at night.

As I walked around my neighborhood today, as much as I tried to stay in the moment, thoughts and words came to me, and I let them. This past weekend, my stepmother and I drove by the old family home, and discovered that the brilliant yellow exterior had been replaced with a color that was a deep, less vibrant blue. The structure was largely the same, although the absence of the basketball hoop was noticeable. The structure was the same, and yet, the blue gave it a completely different feel. It’s no longer our home in any way. The new family has made it their own, and I love that for them. I wonder if I’ll ever see it again, or if I’ll even want to.

Lots of emotions were stirred up this past weekend, and I suppose that they gave way to this post. I had a hard time writing the follow up to Part I, mostly because I thought that it would reveal something from my book that I wasn’t ready to share. I didn’t want to give away all of my secrets. As it stands, the book still isn’t published, but I’m in a good enough place to write this piece. I could tell you something cheesy like, “Time heals all wounds,” but I’m not sure I believe in that. Sure, most things eventually fade, lose their potency, and yes, time does lessen the sting, but I’d like to believe that it’s the hard work that I’ve done, therapy and long conversations, some medication, and even a little spiritual work, that have gotten me to the place I am today. I don’t think you can just wait it out. I mean you can, but with a little hard work, I think you can speed up the process, the process of healing. In some ways, it’s been the most important pursuit of my adult life.

10 years ago, around this time, it was Father’s Day. It was a time in my life characterized by stops and starts. I’d travel somewhere wonderful, have all of this energy. I’d then come home, and pick up where I left off, falling right back into a my rut. I’d come back to my favorite couch, and the energy would fade away, almost as if the couch absorbed it. 10 years ago, I saw all of those families in the streets, and I had to face the painful display. I was only 24, but I knew I had to act. I had to harness this energy, and do something with it. I was damaged, but I also knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life like this. I didn’t want to be miserable and sad, so I put the wheels in motion and wound up in New York. I think doing anything was better than doing nothing. I did some stupid things. I also did something that I’m proud of, getting my graduate degree. I look back at that person with a deep sense of compassion, knowing full well that that person was wonderfully alone, was navigating the confusing waters of being a young adult, and was attempting to find himself amidst the pain and turmoil that losing someone invariably brings with it.

I didn’t have a direction I was moving in. Instead, there was a huge void in my life that stared back at me, and it asked me the simple and infuriating question, “What’s next?” New York was a mixture of good and bad. It gave me another shot at life, at the very least the energy to move forward. I realized that I did want to keep going, which was big for me. I was out and moving around in the world. I was back in the game, but it wasn’t New York that got me out of the pit, it was that moment back in Boston, where I finally got angry enough to do something. I knew that the road ahead would be challenging. I knew that there were friends along the way, that there were people who would support me, but that I must do this alone, that I must make my own life and find my own way. Maybe that’s why it’s hard for me to really let someone into my life, all the way in. You don’t want to risk compromising all of the hard work that you’ve done, the person that you’ve built. Of course, there’s always the chance that they could make you better, that that person would be supportive and help you grow, but I’m not sure the good has ever outweighed the bad for me in relationships. I’ll do my best to keep an open mind.

10 years after the fact, my perspective has shifted. I’d love to tell you that that was my last breakdown, but that wouldn’t be true. I have crumbled since then, since that Father’s Day. It wasn’t my last bout of depression, as there would be at least one more major episode, but man, I keep getting up, and I think that’s something to be celebrated. I’m still here. Through it all, I think about life and myself differently. Now, I make a more conscious effort to care for my mental health and wellbeing. I rest more. I am getting better and better at setting boundaries. I forgive easily, but I do not always forget. You can love someone, but not want them to continue to play a big role in your life. You get to pick and choose who stays. No one else knows what I need the way I do. No one else will look out for me and protect me the way that I will.

I’m going to make an assumption. I do not mean to offend, but I’m going to assume that every person battling depression, that they know on some level that a change needs to be made. They know something must be different than it is currently, but change requires effort. Effort requires energy, which in a depressed state, often doesn’t exist. It’s in short supply. The outside world has an energy you just can’t match. There are no quick fixes, and there are no ready-made solutions. Try different things, but above all else, know that you deserve better, that you are loved, and that you are not alone. When that energy comes, do everything you can to take advantage of it, and climb out of that pit. Maybe you’ll be back someday, but my hope is that the lessons you’ve learned, that they’ll keep you out of it for good. Never stop trying, and never stop taking care of yourself. Thanks for reading.


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