A few years back I found myself in one of the most serious depressions I’ve ever had. It was triggered by several factors, the biggest being a recent breakup with a girl who I wasn’t even that serious about. But the lies of depression convinced me that the breakup was a sign no one cared about me, and that I was meant for a lifetime of loneliness. I responded to those dark days with drinks, beer to be specific, lots and lots of beer. Cliched, I know, but cliches become cliches for a reason.
I’m not proud of how much I was drinking back then, even though it is unfair for me to judge my former self by today’s standards. Back then I hadn’t been diagnosed yet. I didn’t understand my mental illness. I didn’t understand the pain. I understood that alcohol numbed it and so I drank as much as I could with two exceptions. One, I never got behind the wheel drunk. And two, I never went to work drunk or even buzzed.
The reason for those lines in the sand is that either of those actions would have put other people at risk. I knew that and would never do that. I cared about other people, but didn’t care about what happened to myself while I was marinating in alcohol. I didn’t care if I drank my life away. Everything was about the next drink. The lies of depression, the pain, the lack of caring about myself were unbearable and in that moment I didn’t care even if I lived or died. I was never actively suicidal because, as I said before, I didn’t want to be a burden to others, but I knew I couldn’t live with the pain I had so I drank to numb that pain. Again, it isn’t a part of my life I am proud of.
It was the people in my life that ultimately pulled me out. One day, while driving home from the liquor store for more alcohol, I rear-ended the person in front of me. I know what you are thinking, but I was sober. Somewhere there is a police report to prove that. The accident was caused by a random moment of distraction. I glanced down to change the radio and glanced up to see my car colliding with the guy in front of me.
After the accident I told people what happened. I also told people how much I had been drinking. I expected them all to be repulsed by the news, to cut me off. Yet they all cared. They wanted to understand, they wanted to know how they could help, and most of all they wanted to know if I was okay. After all these people were in my life for a reason. They helped bring me and my drinking habits back to a much healthier place
Depression still whispers its little lies in my ear. Yet now I have tools forged through hours and hours of therapy to help manage it. I also have that moment, the moment I realized how wonderful the people in my life truly are. I can hold onto that moment, and use it as a beacon in the darkness when the depression returns. And I know it will return.
Some of you out there maybe struggling with depression right now. Some of you might be self-treating with alcohol, drugs, or other vices, thinking that it will numb a loneliness that will never leave. But I promise you it does get better. You are not alone. There are amazing people out there, who are just waiting to help you with your demons. Trust me, I’ve been there too.