Braving the black hole – Zach’s Story

(Zach and I have been friends since high school. He is one day older than I. He took this selfie with my disposable at prom.)
It’s funny, really. All the signs were there – a fascination with violence, owning several firearms, crushing depression. Everyone in the family expected it – except it wasn’t me.

My cousin committed suicide last Easter, and it gave me a glimpse into the earth-shattering chain of events that occur after something like that. I’d often thought about it, but never contemplated it. What I’d do, where and when. I was diagnosed relatively early, and placed on anti-depressants in middle school. I was in group therapy for many years as a young child ( < 9 years old). I didn’t have a great childhood – I never knew my father, he died when I was 1. I was always the fat kid. My mom remarried, and he was an alcoholic emotional abuser. I got sick with a rheumatic illness in fifth grade, which would have killed me if not diagnosed. My treatment of prednisone caused me to balloon, gaining 60 pounds in the first two months I was on it.

I was miserable. Going into high school, I dreaded it. Thankfully, I was never bullied because of my weight, but I developed a very dark sense of humor and covered my anxiety and reclusiveness with self-deprecating humor. And I’m still dealing with that to this day. I have no idea where I’m going in my life, but I know that living with depression has been a grueling battle from day one. I still have days where I have no idea how I get out of bed. I have broken into tears from the spiraling train of thoughts that go through my mind. Will I ever be -truly- happy? Why do I choose to go on? And the answer is, I don’t know. I doubt I ever will.

I find myself lately going on because somewhere deep down, I know there is hope. Maybe I’m not what someone might define as happy. But I’m finding that I am content. Living with depression is not about trying to avoid that black hole that exists in your gut. That black hole might always be there. In my mind, it’s more about learning to recognize when that black hole flares, and to get help when needed. There is no shame in asking for help. It’s the bravest thing you can do.

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