On chilly, mid-January morning back in 1996 at a hospital in Rutland, Vermont–I stopped being a 17-year-old boy–Instead, I was just depressed, just anxious, and just suicidal…
We’ll get to that in a moment, but first…
My mind drifts when I read.
Tell me if this happens to you…
You’ll be reading, humming right along, totally immersed in the world the author has created. Suddenly, with no rhyme or reason, you morph into fat Tom Hanks and your mind is gifted to Poseidon as if it were a goddamn bloodied volleyball.
Oh, thank god. I thought I was the only one. This time, this time was different though.
Recently, my chubby, chorizo like thumbs were flipping through the book “What the Dog Saw” by Malcolm Gladwell. If you’re not familiar with Gladwell, he is on my Mt. Rushmore of storytellers. Right next to Aaron Sorkin, Jon Bon Jovi, and of course, Paul “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri.
In a chapter entitled: “The Art of Failure“, he mentions the death of John F. Kennedy Jr. You know, the guy our parents remember saluting his assassinated father during the televised funeral. Or, for my generation, the reason why Elaine Benes lost “The Contest”.
But, as they say, “The Devil is in the Details.” And it was the telling of how “John John” died by Gladwell which precipitated my most recent ADHD/CTE/LSD/THC influenced lapse of concentration.
July 16, 1999
John Jr., his wife Carolyn Bessette, and his sister-in-law Lauren Bessette took off from Martha’s Vineyard in JFK Jr’s Piper PA-32R-Saratoga II plane. Due to the darkness and the haze, John Kennedy Jr. became disoriented and started to make strange, almost out-of-body, out-of-mind maneuvers.
He panicked. Banking hard left, banking hard right, slowing down, speeding up. He couldn’t keep the plane level. Suddenly, unbeknownst to him or his passengers, he went into what is referred to as a “graveyard spiral”–Where the plane goes into a corkscrew nose dive towards the ground– splashing into the Atlantic to their tragic, premature deaths.
“Because in times of low visibility and high stress, keeping your wings level–indeed, even knowing whether you are in a graveyard spiral–turns out to be surprisingly difficult.”
He goes on…
“On the ground, we know whether we are level even when it’s dark, because of the motion-sensing mechanisms in the inner ear. In a spiral dive, though, the effect on the planes G-Force on the inner ear means that the pilot feels perfectly level even if his plane is not.”
Why did my mind drift?
Due to darkness and haze, I’ve become disoriented, had an out-of-mind, out-of-body experience. Like many of you, like 18.1% of the U.S. population suffering from anxiety in the U.S. every year, found myself panicking, unable to stay level, spinning in a graveyard spiral without even knowing it.
You Ever Notice That Being Depressed, Anxious and/or Suicidal Are Characters in “Boogie Nights”?
If I May…
I’ve skirted around the topic of depression for a while now.
Would you want to write about your quotidian battle with depression? About having crippling anxiety attacks? Or about the time you almost accidentally killed yourself? Of course not! It sucks! I’d rather find out what it’s like to have a prostate exam from Rosanne Barr after she ate ghost peppers with no gloves or lube!
At the same exact time, it has also been suggested I write about worlds people can relate to. (Sports…Thank both of you for reading this)
Fuck it! Let’s do both!
Because, I, well, I’m all too familiar with the cumbersome nature of being: just depressed, just anxious, and just suicidal.
At the same exact time, let’s help those who don’t have a goddamn clue. (Ya, you happy pricks can go fist yourselves.)
By the way, when I use the word just, it’s neither meant to simplify nor minimize. However, when you’re depressed, anxious, and/or suicidal– you’re no longer a spouse, no longer a mother, no longer a father, no longer an employee, no longer an employer…
- You’re just depressed.
- You’re just anxious.
- You’re just suicidal.
And for the love of Christ, you can’t escape it!
And that’s okay!
You’re going to be just okay!
Cause, here is the thing those of you who don’t understand this world (you pricks) don’t get…
And those who struggle like chubby, short 1991 Keith at a urinal only for adults, wish people would comprehend.
We just want to know that’ it’s alright. We’re going to be just fine. Because, while your in the middle of it, all you’re thinking is you’re crazy, you’re going to die, and you’re all alone.
I’m here to tell you…
- You’re not crazy.
- You’re not going to die
- You’re not alone.
All you need to do is exhale, escape the island of Alcatraz which is your mind, and be sure to keep an eye out for mine.
I honestly don’t know how this is going to turn out.
What I’m going to do over the next few weeks is play matchmaker. Trying to create relationships (because I’m so fucking great at it) between a story you are familiar with, and a story you’re not. Hopefully creating a correlation which those who know can relate, and those who don’t can discover. (Second date is going to be about the aforementioned 1991 Keith, baseball cards, and a Second Baseman for the New York Yankees…This is going to be a colossal failure.)
And now, a serious moment:
If there is anyone who would care to share a story, hoping, like I, to help those who struggle, for those who battle, for those seeking something, anything to relate to and find peace: My e-mail is email@example.com. I promise to provide as much anonymity as an Op-Ed piece for the NY Times.
And, at some point, I will share my story. A story of what it was like to wake up in a room with cheap fluorescents flickered, where there was so much sanitizer in the room it stuck to your tongue, where a doctor seared my retina with a light asking me how many I took, while family and friend trembled, asking another question: Why?
And to further accentuate my point as to why I’m doing this:
A video I’ve shared almost as much as the Fat Kid with a Light Sabre on the set PEG TV:
Oh, and there is one other reason why I’m doing this…
When we read stories about those who lost their lives due to losing control, while being in control–it’s hard not to think about the days, weeks, months, and years where the feeling of depression was more comforting than the feeling of happiness. Raise your hand if you’ve felt overwhelmed with joy only to instantly transfer this glee to wondering not if, but when this will go away?
Ya, you’re not alone. I promise you-you’re not. Just like your mind as you were reading this, and like my mind while I’m…Oooo I think a girl just liked me on Bumble!!!
Trust me, we’re all dancing right next to you…
To be continued…
And if you need immediate help please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Available 24 hours every day