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!