Darkness on the Edge of Town

Trigger Warning: This post is about depression, suicide, self-harm, and other topics that might cause distress. Additionally, my dark sense of humor is present.


I wrote (a lot) on the previous iteration of this blog about depression. I wrote about friends that took their own lives. Those posts, like those people, are gone now. Forever. Had I the foresight, I probably would’ve saved those posts on the one in a billion chance it might’ve helped someone. Consider this post their replacement.

Depression is like a shadow. It can be scant or it can loom large. If you’re not looking for it, you probably won’t notice it, but it’s always there. We all have shadows. There is no stigma to having a shadow. And shadows take many different shapes, but most of the time they look normal: just like you, as you are, most of the time.

They tell you to “look for the signs,” but it’s never that easy. My friend, he was big as life and one of the most outwardly happy and successful people I’d met. Past tense; because he’s gone now. No warning, no explanation. Talking about TV one day and the next day never talking again. Another spent his life saving people, saving families. Helping people. He never asked for help for himself.

Because shadows can be hidden. If people don’t want you to see theirs, you won’t see it…

None of us is an adequate spokesperson for mental health, because we’re all at least a little fucked up. But that’s an important thing to remember: we are all at least a little fucked up. That’s why it’s shocking when famous celebrities or comedians or successful businesspeople take their own lives and it seems like a shock. It shouldn’t. People are people, and none of us get out this alive. It’s morbid and it’s hard to talk about, but it is necessary.

Memento Mori. Remember that you will die. Remember you are fragile, but so is everyone else. We all know pain and disappointment and grief and hopelessness and bleak, endless darkness. No one is immune. If that describes you, know that you are notalone.

Like most kids, I had a hard time with high school. Sometimes I would go home after school, sit in my room, hold a knife to my throat and cry for hours. My family didn’t know, my best friend didn’t know… writing this now is the first time anyone besides me will ever know about that. And I’m sharing it for one very simple, specific reason:

I am glad every day of life that I’m still here.

It’s a cliche to say “it gets better,” but it does… then it gets bad again, and it gets better again, and up and down it goes. Life can be unruly and messy and downright awful at times. But the moments, the good moments, they’re worth every low. And you may not think so right now, but what if you’re wrong?

I was.

I would’ve never graduated high school. Never gone to college. Never kissed a girl. Never fallen in love. Never driven 120mph with my eyes closed. Never had a pet dog (let alone 3). Never fallen in love (for real this time). Never chugged a beer. Never seen a brother get married. Never seen my parents – my old nemeses from high school – grow old and retire to a little place on a lake in Maine. Never had a real, honest-to-God, GOOD slice of pizza.

In short: I would have never really, truly lived.

And if there’s one thing – even if it’s infinitesimally small – let that be the thing you live for… because not only is that small thing worth it, there’s always something else after it. There’s so much of this world that you deserve to experience, don’t cheat yourself.

The feeling that you’re all alone and no one knows how you feel… that is as empty and alone and as scared and as broken as a human being can feel. But there are 7 billion people on this planet, and billions more that have come before… so when I tell you we’ve all had that moment, I well and truly mean it. We just… don’t talk about it.

And that’s OUR fault. We should talk about it. We need to talk about it. Because in a world of perfect Instagram lives it’s important to know that the world – and every person in it – is an imperfect, fucking mess.

So please, please be an imperfect fucking mess. Try. Fail. Dust yourself off and fail again. Because the one time you get it right is worth all the failures. No one remembers the failures no matter how spectacular. For example, some of my failures:

  • I pissed my pants in school.
  • I alienated the first girl I ever had a crush on.
  • I shit myself on a school trip (I have control of my bowels now, I swear).
  • I was scared of my prom dates.
  • I flunked French. Twice.
  • I once told a comedian that I enjoyed her set even though no one else seemed to.

I’ve honestly lost track of all the embarrassing shit (most of which are also first-time admissions) I’ve done because in the grand scheme of things – because I kept going – they don’t mean shit (well, except the shit one).

I’m trying to keep this from being the kind of hokey schlock you’ve read before, but if I can quote an infomercial: “if I can do it, so can you.”

The world can be a real shitty place, but it’d be worse off without you.*

* Unless you’re the next Hitler. If so, disregard the above.


Step 1: Reboot Your Machine

Here we are again.

I’m a prolific blog-starter, not so much a prolific blog-writer. I realized the other day that I’d neglected writing for a while, specifically all non-journal writing but especially blog-writing. I was caught in a pendulum between having nothing to say and not being able to condense what I wanted to say into coherent thought.

So I hit the reset button.

All of the old posts are gone, and frankly that’s probably a good thing. I don’t know that the world needed any more dime-store philosophy or high school poetry. Like a lot of first (and second) drafts, I tossed all the old stuff in the virtual trash bin. I want to commit to something that doesn’t have the baggage of what came before; a blogula rasa.

This will be short-form. Most posts will be under 500 words. A welcome change for me from the whiskey-fueled epics that gave this blog its name, and hopefully a welcome change for you – the slacker trying to get through it at all at work. It will also be more focused (I hope); less diatribes about the futility of existence and more about fun shit like beer and pizza and punching stuff.

At least that’s the plan. We’ll see what the whiskey says…