It’s been almost a year since I drove to Houston to take in a baseball game. It was Opening Night 2013 and the Rangers were playing the Astros. I was there, somehow feeling totally alone and disconnected among tens-of-thousands of people.
For a long time I thought that it started that night, but in reality it was probably a few weeks earlier. On March 12th I went to see They Might Be Giants in Dallas. I went by myself because my friends were all employed and I was not and it was a Tuesday night.
Standing in the House of Blues, waiting for the show to start, watching little pockets of people talk to each other, I became desperately aware of how isolated I felt. The loneliness began to press in on me and make me anxious. I didn’t want to be there anymore, though it was hard to say where I did want to be other than “not where I am now.”
That feeling was easy to forget once the music started. For over an hour I bounced to the rhythm and belted out the lyrics to some of my favorite songs. It was an absolute blast. Then the show ended, the lights came up, and I walked back to my car by myself. This wonderful night had come and gone and I had no one to share it with.
On the 31st I made my way down I-45. I went by myself because my friends were all employed and I was not and it was a Sunday night.
They took their toll, those hours on the road. There wasn’t much to do besides drive and think and I did a lot of both. For hours I thought about all of the things that I had to look forward to in the weeks and months ahead, and I came up with very little. There was baseball…and not much else.
The feeling stuck with me long after that night at Minute Maid Park. It was my constant companion, always there to remind me who I was and what I didn’t have in my life. It ate away at me, wore me down, and before long I had settled into a profound depression.
Eventually I began to consider the end of my life, though I don’t think you could say that I was ever suicidal because I never really wanted to commit suicide. I never wanted to actually do anything. I just wanted to not be alive anymore. It seemed like things would be easier that way, which I knew was a pretty fucked up perspective even then.
(Allie Brosh expresses a similar sentiment in this comic, which is brutally honest and worth your time. I do wonder now how common these thoughts are among people who are depressed.)
Every night I would lie awake, haunted by gruesome images of my death. For months at a time it would be the same image and it would play over and over and over and over until I finally fell asleep. At first I imagined that my skull would be crushed under the weight of a massive stone. Then, for a while, a rail spike would be shoved through my temple into my brain. Later I would be hung from the balcony of my parents’ house, a cord wrapped around my neck.
Why these images repeated themselves, why it was the same one for extended periods, and why one was eventually replaced by another, I really have no clue. There’s probably someone out there who could tell me, but I’m not sure I want or need to know.
I did watch a lot of baseball, but the games affected me more than in years past. The highs were higher and the lows lower. I was too emotionally raw to handle bad losses and oftentimes I would become so distraught that I would just shut off the TV.
My writing suffered too. I was still with Shutdown Inning then, but only just. I managed to write some, but it was hardly a priority. Sometime mid-season I took a kind of informal hiatus while I tried to sort things out.
I never told anyone, of course. I knew that nothing could be done and that telling people would only make them wring their hands with worry. That would’ve made me feel even worse, so I hid it all away until those quiet moments when no one else would see.
The struggle went on for about six months. Sometime around mid-September I began to turn things around, though I don’t know why it happened exactly then. I have my theories, but it’s all speculation and doesn’t matter much anyway. I just started to feel better, because reasons. I know that seems odd, but not much about the situation ever made sense.
I’ve known this post was coming for a long time. In October I wrote a sort-of prologue because I knew even then that this would need to be written at some point. It’s not a cry for help or sympathy or attention. It’s just an honest account of a very dark time in my life.
And now I’m pressing on.