As I’m sitting here writing these very words, I am realizing how much a post like this has been a long time coming. I really mean it when I say a long time. 18 years. Is 18 years a long time? Yeah, I guess. There is no doubt that it’s been 18 years because a very vivid memory still exists within my mind of when I was just a 10 year old kid who tried to kill himself.
My memory is fuzzy behind the actual momentum I had with wanting to kill myself so, naturally, I question how hard I really tried or how serious I was actually being. Was I just a melodramatic child? I just remember deciding that I would go in my mom’s bathroom and take as many pills as I could from whatever bottle that was easily accessible. At 10 years old, labels on the bottles didn’t really matter to me as I equated “1 pill = good for you and 20 pills = bad for you” in my adorable little head. After grabbing the first bottle I found and ingesting at least half of the pills, I waited in the bathroom with the door locked. After however long it was, maybe two minutes or maybe 20 minutes, I decided it didn’t work and went back to playing video games or doing homework out of frustration. I thought it would work out like it does in the movies when someone drinks poison. I thought I would animatedly grab my chest and scream, “Oh, no! Ouch! Oooooh!” then fall the ground and quietly whisper, “Goodbye, world!” as my eyes closed.
I repeated this process a few more times and nothing ever happened. I am incredibly lucky that it turned out I was actually just trying to overdose on vitamins. What finally stopped me from constantly trying to overdose on something was when I took a bunch of some kind of off-brand laxative. Yep, it was a miserable couple days but, hey, at least I got to miss a couple days of school!
Anyway, now that I have that initial story out of the way, I can continue on with the whole point of this post. Obviously, I don’t want to bore you to tears with every little story and event in my life that I feel might be relevant to this post. Plus, I want to save my experiences, thoughts, and feelings about, for lack of a better term, my “daddy issues” that I know have contributed greatly to what I’m writing about here. Oh! Bonus! I’ll also even have another post about my struggles with gender role conformity (and related topics) that I also happen to feel contributes to what I discuss in this post.
Dang, my future therapist is going to make a lot of money off of me.
Ever since I was 10 years old, I’ve experienced a very consistent pattern of floating and sinking through my life. There are periods where I am feeling great and things are going well and I have unmatched energy along with optimism that would annoy most people. Then the times come where I feel so low, so invalid within my own existence, and nothing brings me up out of the bed aside from obligations that I must adhere to. It’s not always a feeling of sadness or worthlessness, but just a feeling of being held down. I still have a hard time explaining these feelings but I can say that they’ve come back full force in my life. Again.
It started as a trickle slowly making its way into my soul probably around the summer of 2014, became a roaring river during the summer of 2015, and now it’s a massive but quiet lake weighing on top of me. It’s this huge, immovable thing bearing down on me. Sure, I had many factors that caused these feelings to overcome my former happy and content self but, through all the thick messiness of it, it’s a very familiar presence.
The best way I can describe it is to imagine my life is a giant maze. Most of the time, I am making progress through this maze and I’m feeling fine, I’m feeling GREAT! Even if it’s just baby steps I’m taking, I can feel myself moving forward and doing something substantial. I take a turn and suddenly a massive brick wall is in front of me. I have to stop and try to retrace my steps in an attempt to take a different route to continue my progress but then nothing looks familiar and I start feeling like the walls are closing in and the air starts feeling tainted and oxygen is running out and I start running but I can’t go anywhere as I just keep going back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. Then a new path randomly becomes visible to me and I take it. The feelings of confusion and panic immediately strip away and I can breathe again!
Right now, I’m panicking and feeling suffocation. Like I said before, this started in 2014 and got noticeably worse over time. It was a factor in me leaving my long-time job. I still don’t regret leaving it but opportunities not working out since then and having too much time on my hands have caused me to focus too much inward, thus causing me to entrench myself into this thing far more than it ever has before. Basically, I was feeling this way then leaving my job caused a giant window to shatter and open up to feel like I got punched right in the dick with this overwhelming thing.
I’ve been holding off on being around people much more often, been turning down many opportunities that would be helpful to my mental health, been canceling on plans, drinking more than I should, gaining weight, and the one thing I’ve been most disappointed in myself for is that I’ve basically stopped hiking. Nature is my church and I’ve even turned that down.
A special gift I have is that I’ve mastered the ability to shove all this away, to act like it’s not present. It’s not a mask I put on, but more of a way I can keep finding extra storage space for these feelings so it’s super easy to pretend I am just a-okay! Lately I’ve been forced to recognize what all of this is and what all of this means. There’s no more storage room and I need to do something with all of this junk. I used to distract myself by helping other people but all it did was drain myself of energy to help myself. I took on everyone else’s burdens instead of my own.
I’m so incredibly exhausted from everything.
I don’t want to self-diagnose myself with anything so please understand I’m not throwing around this term loosely but I think I’m depressed. Not, “Oh, Donald Trump might have a legitimate chance of becoming President which will cause all his racist and sexist supporters to feel validation thus starting the end of anything good this country once stood for,” type of sadness, but more like a full-on, “My own entire complete existence is against myself,” depression.
If you’re surprised at any of this, then I know my ability to hide this stuff away has been extra effective!
Honestly? I’m not entirely sure what my ultimate goal is of writing this post. To hold myself accountable to get better? To force myself to recognize I’ve had a problem for years? To be more honest to the people important in my life? Because if you’re making the effort to read this, then you’re probably very important to me. I mean that.
I’ve decided to make an appointment with a therapist by the end of the week but if any of you have any advice, insight, or experience with any of what I mentioned above, I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this. To all of my family and friends, I love you and thanks for being there for me when I needed it and thanks for tolerating me whenever I’ve been weird or illogical. Just know that I’m starting to make an active effort to deal with this and hopefully become a more genuine person rather than hiding away half of myself. Thank you.
And, damn, this is my first post of 2016! Haha! Hopefully my last post of this year is much more cheerful!
11 Comments Add yours
Wow. Now I know why you have been constantly in my thoughts. I was just praying for you earlier today. You are SO valuable. You’re a treasure. You’re brilliant, kind, and perfect the way you are. I’ve told you before and I’ll say it again (and you’ll keep hearing me say it) God has His hand on you. You are chosen by Him for a special purpose. I have never sensed that with anyone as much as I do with you…and it’s so ironic knowing where you are coming from. No matter what the past is you have a real Father who is perfect, who can’t wit for you to know Him better, and thinks you are AMAZING! (and I think you are amazing too!) <>
Reblogged this on seanaldenfitzgerald and commented:
A worthy, courageous post from a fellow local to the Colorado Springs area.
Yet another great blog post from Kevin Westendorf. I really appreciate the openness and willingness to be vulnerable that you demonstrate here. I also think you’re a wonderful writer.
This is probably random coming from me, but as your Facebook friend, I definitely took the time to read this. Oddly enough I very much can relate to what you wrote. What I am about to tell you relates to this, however, came in a backwards way for me. After my accident right after high school, (you may remember) I was lost and had highs and lows for years. I suffered a TBI which is a traumatic brain injury. With that, it creates anxiety, depression and worsens anything a person may have tendencies of. In my case it was OCD. I also have PTSD. I don’t like telling people that because everyone says they have OCD, but it is so different to actually have it. That’s a different story though. I was at the doctor and he picked up on my OCD which I had thought was normal. I didn’t know any different. After that he then put me on medication for the anxiety, OCD and PTSD which was sertraline. I told no one of this and my family to this day doesn’t know. My accident was traumatic enough to them, I didn’t need them to know I’m still having after effects of it. After being put on that, suddenly everything changed. I no longer worried about everything or had highs and lows. I never cried and I never got overly excited. I was just content. After about a year and a half, I realized that. I realized that I never got excited for things anymore and I never cried even when I should have. It was almost like I was numb. Comfortably numb. On this medicine I could see when I was being over dramatic about things and when I was being obsessive compulsive. I learned to differentiate. I did also start to notice that I was gaining weight which was not normal for me. After fighting with that for a while, I decided to get off of it. It took a while and my doctor was not in favor of it, but it’s my life. I now take nothing and I still have highs and lows, but I can see it more clearly and get a better handle on things. I also can handle my OCD better. Both will always be there, but I am so thankful to have been able to be on that medication long enough to get a grip I guess you could say. So all in all, my reason for telling you that story, is so that maybe that is something you could try. I know everyone is different, but that’s just what helped me. I wrote this on my phone so I hope there aren’t too many mess ups, but I really hope this helps. You’re the only person I’ve told this too which is weird as we arnt close, but I felt compelled to after reading. Good luck with your therapist and they can prescribe such things as what I had. Don’t be scared to try one of they suggest it! Thanks for taking YOUR time to read this! 🙂
I organize my life around depression. I have respect for depression because it can take my life, either by suicide or by sucking the meaning out of my time here.I hope you would never guess this if you met me. I achieve joy and meaning by talking to a therapist when I need to,really doing the “homework,” acting on the knowledge that too little rest, too much alcohol, certain types of toxic people or situations exact a price I can’t afford.
I’m so sorry you are struggling right now. I think it’s very positive that you are self aware of your situation. That’s huge and you should give yourself credit for that. Maybe it was helpful to type this entry and put it all in writing. I think your decision to speak with a therapist is important. We all seek experts in the area we need help. I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Take care! You deserve to be happy. Always remember that.
Kevin, this could’ve been written by me honestly – so many of the same struggles. The key is admitting when it’s time for help and it’s such a huge step forward to share your story. In sharing mine, it was so therapeutic and FREEING, because a big part of the downward spiral is feeling like you have to hide that you’re depressed, especially when everyone views you as being such a social person – it’s really, really hard to dig out of the dark hole, but the important thing is to keep climbing and not get buried. I’m so glad you’re getting help, and if you ever need to talk or need support, please know I am ALWAYS available, anytime!
Your tweet about Shia’s shenanigans led me to your blog this evening, and while I have my own depression story, I just want to say that I truly hope and pray that you made good on the plan to see a therapist. It’s not something to be conquered alone, and just as you know the journey up a mountain, the rock slide to the bottom leaves more challenges than the ascent. From this total stranger, if you haven’t yet, please follow through on what you wrote back in March. You’re worth the commitment to yourself! Blessings
don’t be afraid to just be yourself Kevin, we are all unique individuals and have our high and low moments which I consider are natural. There are many chapters in our lives and we pass thru many phases, thank goodness. How incredibly boring we would be if we remained monotonously flat. Keeping a private diary helped me in the past. Watch what you eat and treat yourself to a little hike now and then, you are worth it ..