A few years ago a wave of depression took over my life that lasted several years. It started when I was in Chicago and I didn’t really understand what was going on, then it got worse and I started to assess my situation but had no interest or idea how to deal with it. By my final months in Chicago during 2015 I was at a low point and that low point followed me overseas to Berlin and Italy. I used my adventures overseas as an escape from my goals and desires. I attempted to ignore my problems and responsibilities, it worked fairly well for a while. I traveled Europe alone, writing about the wild events that happened while I was running from life and my depression. I began work on a new idea I had for a novel. During that period of nomadic desires I accomplished an astounding amount of writing, but hadn’t addressed the mental monsters in my head that had been lying dormant most of my life.
I returned to the US, still fucked up in the head, still angry and not knowing why, still with lingering feelings of ending it all. I had hoped to start a new life in Berlin, I was rapping at shows, connecting with Berliners, but my intentions and meandering got in the way of opportunity and I ended up back in South Florida.
I grew up in South Florida and had hated it as a kid. I always wanted to run away, the idea of being an explorer or even just a vagabond hoboing around the world was appealing to me even as a youth. Now being back where I grew up, where I left so many relationships behind, where my parents have made our family home, I slipped deeper into depression and mania. My depression was held at bay until after my brother’s wedding, but before long it would damn near be the death of me. It lasted about a year before I ended up in Texas with friends. I was living at a friend’s house (Rich) with him and his wife while him and I, plus a friend from Berlin (Tobi) that I’d become close with, started a tech company.
It was an exciting time, an opportunity to build something with people that I admire, and to have something to call my own. I still had my writing, the manuscript I wrote living in Chicago was edited and being sent out to publishers and agents while I continued my work on the novel I started writing when I was overseas.
I handled sales and customer service for our new tech start up…Ascenders! Tobi in Berlin was the brains behind the company, Rich was the business head, and I was the guy who could talk your ass off and the one with the sales experience in the group (I spent a year in a boiler room style health insurance agency selling shitty healthcare over the phone during the height of my depression).
If I’m being honest, my excitement behind Ascenders, for me, was based on the fact that if we succeed, I would never have a boss again, and eventually if we become extremely successful I can step back and focus solely on my writing. However the playing field shifted under our feet and we didn’t have the financial means to weather the storm and after almost two years of 10 hour days, working seven days a week, the company collapsed overnight. We hadn’t done anything wrong, we did everything right, but our company was based around Instagram and Instagram made a change that we couldn’t work around quick enough due to limited funds. Just when we had started to get somewhere, over 100 clients, and the poof!
When I’d been in Texas, there was a moment when I had a true breakthrough with my depression, I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say that four grams of magic mushrooms and a couple of friends out in Big Bend National Park miles from any other people, can give you visions. I haven’t been the same since we went out there. The trip I wrote about for Rova Magazine which should be out soon.
When I returned to South Florida I started seeing a therapist and for the first time in my life I was starting to get somewhere. I had gone to therapy many times since I was a kid, but none ever helped much. But now my brain was no longer going straight to the darkside when something bad would happen. Normally watching something I built with my own two hands collapse before my very eyes would have crushed me, but it didn’t. I didn’t even sweat it. It was like I had finally realized what I was supposed to do. I put my focus and my life into writing.
I got a freelance position with a small local newspaper down in Miami. It was the first time I had an editor that I was in constant contact with. She was really inspiring too. She liked my work and thought I had potential, I started to work on my investigative reporting and was slowly getting somewhere with the paper. Then COVID-19 hit, I was covering live music for the paper, days before the paper went into panic mode, my editor quit to work for another paper. Then the paper fires a ton of it’s writers and I have a new editor but nothing to cover.
Once again the road forward had pitfalls and start overs built in. I decided to build this blog, Hank’s Luncheonette, my good friend and former business partner Tobi out in Berlin created it for me.
As the pandemic got worse and the realization came into focus for me that things will not be going back to “normal”, I realized I wasn’t depressed anymore. I wasn’t unhappy anymore. I still had problems and things I needed to figure out, but that impending doom that normally resides in the back of my mind is gone. I didn’t take meds, I went to my therapist once a week for probably nine months, it wasn’t nothing, but it wasn’t painful. It helped me rewire my brain I guess, because now with the idea of a complete economic collapse lingering in the back of all our minds, I don’t have fear. I’d been through hell, I’d stared into the abyss, I felt what despair feels like, and it didn’t live here anymore. My therapist had told me prior to COVID-19 that by me figuring out how to work through the trauma of my childhood and the depression that had held me back for years, I would be more equipped than most to deal with fucked up situations…it’s true. I’d always been good in a pinch but now I didn’t freak out internally from the anxiety.
However things work out is how they’ll work out, but for me, nothing will be as dark as the past five years of my life.