Month: January 2016

Let’s Talk, Once More.

Typical Mood In The Morning
My regular state of mind in the mornings before starting my job search. Picture taken by David Gay, with permission to use provided credit is given to the author.

Wednesday January 27th, 2016 was Bell Let’s Talk Day, where once again awareness is being raised about mental illness and depression. I was going to write something completely different in today’s blog post than what I have posted here, but something caught my eye during a Google search on the subject of depression.

I stumbled on someone named kwtechguy on Reddit asking people how to help get me out of the situation I’m in now.

I think I know who kwtechguy is, but I won’t say who I think it is in case I’m wrong. Regardless of who he is, bless him for trying to help me get back to financial self-reliance and independence. Anyone who steps up to the plate on my behalf has my gratitude and thanks.

In addition to his efforts, what also got my attention was a comment he made that reads as follows:

“His blog is an interesting, although depressing, read”

It is a depressing read. It’s about a situation no one wants to find themselves in, but like cancer, a bad slip or fall, or a really awkward dinner date, it’s not something one can prevent from happening. It’s also depressing because the author — me — is very depressed and with good reason. My future is uncertain as a 51 (52 in June!) year old man trying to find a job. I have strained relations with family and friends, and I’m trying to balance a personal budget with a scant flow of income which is as difficult as herding cats.

I wake up every morning not wanting to get out of bed because my job search is not only tedious, it’s disheartening. I go to bed not in the best of moods. Happiness is a fleeting concept and too much unhappiness over time can lead you down a path that makes logical sense yet is terrifyingly wrong. On November 24th, 2014, that path took me to a point in my life I’ve only been to once and hope I never go again.

Before I continue, I delayed releasing this blog post because of what I’m about to share. It will probably not sit well with some people I know once they read it, but since most of them are already mad at me, I can’t possibly do anything more to worsen the relationship. More importantly, this blog has always been about sharing my experiences and struggles of trying to find work in this Age of Austerity and a jobless recovery. Leaving it out would have done what this blog stands for a great disservice.

I was staying at my aunt’s place in Toronto as part of my couch-surfing. I woke up that Monday morning after having a very unsettling dream. I had breakfast, brushed my teeth and showered, got dressed and with laptop and a bundle of newspapers crossed the street to the local McDonald’s to begin my job search at around 7:30 a.m while sipping on a large cup of coffee.

And I wasn’t myself.

I applied to jobs in Toronto through Simply Hired, TorontoJobShop, Indeed, Monster, and Workopolis, as well as the local island jobsites run by companies like Best Buy, Futureshop, TD Canada Trust, and Sobey’s. I was going to write a blog post about the difference between those who had things and those who could not afford to, but wasn’t up to it.

Because I wasn’t myself.

I wrote a few Emails and made some phone calls to some friends and former co-workers about my situation, reminding them that I’m still actively looking for work. Two of my friends asked how I was doing and I lied by replying that everything was fine.

Because it wasn’t: I wasn’t myself.

After checking for any job fairs and workshops scheduled over the coming weeks, I started packing up my things. I pitched the newspapers in the recycle bin after making sure I got the company name and telephone number of some places I contacted about an opening. My unfinished cup of coffee, still two-thirds full, was cold and I poured it down the liquid catch in the pop-machine. Usually I always finish my coffee and ask for a free refill.

Not today. I wasn’t myself.

I wasn’t myself. God damn it, I was not myself and it was really bothering me. What’s going on? I was going to return to my aunt’s place and read a book she loaned me from her personal library but I couldn’t.

This — not myself thing— had to be settled.

I went to Blantyre Park, which was not too far from my aunt’s place. I’m pacing while trying to wrap my head around what I was experiencing, trying to get a handle on it. After about a half-hour of mulling I finally figured it out. It terrified me.

What I was experiencing was shock at the subconscious computation, which manifested itself in that dream I had, that I didn’t want to go on anymore. My brain was trying to alert me that my depression from being out of work for so long and not having money was out of control. The problem was it could not quantify that warning into something I could understand. I mean, how could I understand it? We’re talking about wanting to end my life. That’s not me.

Rational people who are well-adjusted do not think about not wanting to go on any more. I needed help. I went to my smartphone to bring up a snapshot of a CrisisLink ad taken at the Victoria Park subway station because it had the number. Don’t ask me why I took the picture, I still do not know why I did to this day but I must have thought it was a good idea (it clearly was in hindsight).

I tried to dial the number only to drop the damn smartphone on the grass because my hands were shaking. I tried again and waited for a few minutes before a pleasant sounding female voice asked if this was an emergency call. I said that it was not and tried my best to explain my morning and the conclusion I reached standing in Blantyre Park.

The female voice told me that it was fortunate I was able to realize there was a problem and call for help. She then started talking to me in a non-preachy and sympathetic manner to help put things in perspective. After 23 minutes she asked if I was all right, and I said I felt better. She asked if I needed someone to call me back to see how I was doing, and I said, no, I was okay. I just needed to talk to someone.

I really did. I needed that talk to help steer myself off the path I was heading for, a re-computation of the computation I had done in my mind previously. To this day I never had a reason to call CrisisLink again and hopefully I won’t need to. Just in case, though, I did jot down a list of distress numbers to call in the Waterloo Region area.

This is why depression is a serious issue and why it’s important to talk about it. When it runs out of control and you do not see what it does to you, it can muck up your mind.

Being depressed is not a choice. it’s a disorder that needs to be treated through social reform and appropriate funding.

Once again, let’s talk.

Thanks for reading!


Past Perfect

HighSchoolYearbookWARNING: strong language used.

It was so easy to give away thousands of dollars worth of computers, televisions, radios, clothing, books, CDs and DVDs, and furniture to Worth A Second Look, but when it comes to something like a school yearbook (see picture), I haven’t one clue what to do with it.

I mean, it’s not worth anything, and if I remember correctly, I never wanted to get the damn thing in the first place. Why would I want something to remind me of my teenage years that were absolute HELL?

From the day I started junior high school to the day I graduated Grade 12 and made what must have been the fastest departure out of a high-school in teenager history, I hated my teenage years. My last name Gay, in a time where homosexual behaviour was considered a sexual deviancy, meant “faggot”. Add on top of that the fact I entered puberty a little later than other teenagers and had a mindset that violence never solved anything (an opinion that I smugly proclaim was proven right in light of the recent gun violence in schools and cyberbullying) made me the second most unpopular person in the history of both schools. The person who was the most unpopular person in both schools was a girl who over-ate to the point of being bell-shaped and morbidly obese, and dressed like something out of a medieval play.

I was beaten up nearly every day, my locker was kicked in at least once a week (I was on first name terms with the custodians because of that), my books were constantly tossed down the stairs, students would drive by my home screaming, “DAAAAVID IZZZZ GAAAAAY” while my mother was outside, my gym teachers were assholes, my junior high school math teacher implied I had a sexual liking towards another male student in front of the class who had a thunderous laugh at my expense,  my high school guidance counselor was an idiot who did not understand what I was going through, I was nearly stripped naked by two female students and beaten up by another because her boyfriend would have beaten me to a pulp if I defended myself and, oh! I learned about 40 different ways to get home (escape) from school. most of which did not require a sidewalk.

As I said, ABSOLUTE HELL. I never even went to my high-school graduation party. Fuck that, I was off to a much better post-secondary life where people did not have such a hang-up about non-violence and having a gay last name (pun intended)

So why get a school-year book? It was because of the very few friends I had, and I will mention them by first name only: Peter, Ruth, Frank. The only three people who, despite my unpopularity, would sit with me at lunch and be my friend. They absolutely would not hear of me not getting a school year book. They nagged and badgered and pestered me to get it so they could write something in it. It was that important to them. At first I said no, but I later relented and wrote in it they did.

After I escaped from Hell — permanently — for the last time using the end of school celebrations and well wishes as a cover, I got home, stored my yearbook away and never really looked at it in detail (aside from the odd browse of pictures during a spring-clean) until my storage locker was closed. After getting rid of most of my things to Worth A Second Look, what was left was the life mementos and sentimental belongings. The yearbook was one of them. After over 30 years, it has seen better days. The bottom part of the spine was damaged, many marks and chips pock-marked the cover, and even some of the page corners were folded.

I read the entire yearbook from start to finish for the first time since getting this book. I looked at the pictures of those people — quite many of them — who delighted in making my life Hell. I looked at pictures of the high school social elite and certain teachers who thought of me as dirt just because for the things I believed in and for my last name. The memories were painful, but I forgave these people. I did not forget what they did. I will never forget, but I did forgive. I had to. Holding a grudge until the day I die serves no purpose except to make the memories of what I experienced fester like a infected wound.

I came across the comments left by my friends I mentioned before, and also those who knew me but I did not consider friends yet were never hostile towards me. While the comments varied from a simple “Best Of Luck” to a long paragraphs about what a wonderful person I was and how their lives were enriched by knowing me, all reminded me of the few moments where Hell was not so hellish and I got a breather to live the life of a normal teenager.

When I got to the section of the graduating class of 1982 – my graduation year – I saw my picture. It was of a young man with shining eyes, a full head of hair, and a line free face. That was a face of a man with dreams, career aspirations, and goals for the rest of his life summed up in the following quote, “Thank you for (helping me) finding out just who I am after all these years trying to find out”. I was stating that I knew what I wanted in life and who I was – an ambitious man who was peaceful, who wanted to aim high with his goals. It was in that section why I found out why it was difficult to figure out what to do with this book: buried deep in the tons of photos of people who were hell were the memories of a person I once was.

I’m not that person any more. Sure, I am still a kind person, and do strongly believe in peace over conflict, but the wonderment and drive and ambition and hope that I had that led to the career I gained and later lost are gone, taken away from me by the Age of Austerity and the jobless recovery.

I can’t throw away that person. I need to find him again and this book is a link to a point in the past where he still lives.

Thanks for reading.



So Now What?

Southward shot of Margaret Street, near the famous Giant Tiger store in Kitchener, Ontario on New Year’s morning. Picture taken by David Gay with permission to use provided credit is given to the author.

What a dog’s breakfast of a year I had.

I was part-time homeless. I had to give away all my stuff because I couldn’t pay the costs to keep them in storage (at least the donations to Worth A Second Look will help out others who are in the same boat as I).  I was mugged and had my laptop stolen. I can’t afford a place of my own so I couch-surfed a lot. To top it off, my inability to resolve my joblessness and be financially self-reliant has caused a rift with my family.

Happy New Year — I guess.

I was going to ask myself, “What else could possibly go wrong?” until I remembered an old saying about tempting Fate, so I keep my mouth shut.

A better question to ask  would be, “Now what?”

It’s been said a New Year is a chance to start fresh all over again. That doesn’t work in my case: I still need to resolve my jobless situation, like I tried to do last year. I also need to resolve my housing situation which I stress is temporary, lest I find myself outdoors again and back to camping at coffee shops and dozing in odd places again.

These two things are the capital, cardinal, central, chief, critical, crucial, essential, foremost, head, paramount, premier, primary, and principal concerns I need to be focused on this year.

Thanks for reading!