Darkness Falls

It was a Thursday. I was at a Butch Walker concert in Austin. He is, in fact, my favorite singer-songwriter. And while the concert was, in fact, amazing, my mind was short-circuiting.

Earlier that day I was in London — the final city of a whirlwind 20-day world tour that covered nine cities on three continents. I had been awake for 47 straight hours. I blamed jet-lag and a flight delayed by seven hours at the last minute. Something more sinister was brewing.

I documented this on my Instagram. Here is the first in a series of increasingly desperate and despairing captions set against oversaturated photos:

It was another Thursday. I was home alone in Austin. I laid out a knife, some liquor and some pills. I contemplated taking my own life. My mind was a raging wildfire — engulfed in total darkness. That was just two weeks later.

How did I end up here? How did I fall so far, so fast, from the euphoric heights illuminated on August 18 in such technicolor detail?

I began to investigate. It was so many things. Jet lag, sure. Lack of sleep, sure. Post-vacation blues are quite common and so well-documented it has its own Wikipedia page. I was unaware of this looming monster — and this was no ordinary vacation.

Alcohol withdrawal from three weeks of binge-drinking is a no-brainer recipe for glitching. Forgetting my Xanax in a Madrid hotel room exacerbated matters. I wasn’t drinking enough water. I couldn’t sleep, so I continued to drink myself to sleep at night. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was barely eating and started eating even less.

I felt isolated and lonely. The nature of the work I do here brings people around the world very close to me, but puts those very close to me a world away. Everyone wants to ride a roller-coaster. But you wouldn’t buy one for your family sedan. And so friends never get too close to me, and potential lovers get scared off.

Also, I fell behind at work. I fell behind in my non-profit work. Or at least I felt like I fell behind. I was nowhere near as far behind as I felt I was. But, then again, it’s the perception that’s the pathology, more than actual events.

The news, additionally, has been a grease-fire. Everything’s burning at the same time. We’re hurtling toward the darkest period in American history at the speed of light. I scroll through the seething rage on Twitter. I read Facebook with mist in my eyes. The Internet allows us to consume infinite profound dread, and the limitations of the human vessel only allow common people comically finite resources to combat it.

Any one of those things may not have been enough to send me over the edge. All of them, though, did. I went from Butch Walker to day-drinking with a butcher knife on the counter in 14 days. I cried out for help on Instagram. I admitted my failings later on Facebook. I wanted people to know. I still want them to.

The darkness left my nerves frayed, frazzled and fucked. I was by turns numb, anxious, fearful, catatonic, miserable, erratic, unhinged and unfocused. By the time I called a long-time friend and lover to disclose my demons, I’d become a drunken, maddening mess — an antithesis shell of the triumphant soul I had been not three weeks prior. That was a Monday night.

Embarrassed, mournful and upset at what transpired the night before, I woke up on Tuesday and ran six miles. “Not one more fucking day of this,” I said to myself after, as I started to clean my “depression mess,” which makes my condo look like it was hit by an F5 Sharknado. I immediately called my primary care physician, scheduled a psychiatrist appointment, and reached out to a therapist.

Wednesday was my birthday. I drank with friends at a Happy Hour from 6–10p.m. … one last hurrah at age 35. One last woozy, boozy evening for me after a month full of them. Then I went home and took a bottle of champagne to the dome, passing out on the couch at 4 a.m. after drunk-texting half the known universe.

It was a Thursday. I was at the doctor’s office. She said, “Have you ever tried Lexapro?” I shook my head no. I’ve never tried anti-depressants. “You need the max dosage.” I said, “So be it. Let’s go. And, also, I’d like that pill you take that makes you throw up when drinking. I do not want to drink. And an early refill on my Xanax, please, for the inevitable withdrawals.”

And that was that. It was a Thursday. Three weeks after the darkness first fell. After my demons I line up against finally brought more blitzers than I could block. Depression doesn’t care how great your life is going. It doesn’t care how good you look on “paper.” It just shows up and blows you off the mountain. The mountain I spent 13 months climbing to previously unreachable heights. I should’ve known how precarious that perch was.

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Written by

Essayist and storyteller on life, liberty and the battle for happiness. Several million served. Words at Human Parts, Forge and PS I Love You. IG: heygorman

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