My Road to Recovery

Over the next month, I will be reposting past Blog entries from my old #35’s Waste of Space blog, as well as some of the more better stuff from Northern Illinois Sports Beat. I figured I’d get those out of the way before I box them up for good.

I shut down Waste of Space in October of 2013. The reason for this was to spend less time pondering thoughts in front of a computer, and discussing more thoughts with my best friend at the time. Around that time, I also served an important role as a surrogate uncle to my best friend’s kids. I decided to cut back on some of my personal endeavors and projects in order to be a good uncle-figure to her three kids.

I started my previous blog in 2005, and moved to a different address in 2007. I had 6 years of old blog posts to dig through in order to find the best ones that I felt like sharing.

Going through my old posts, I had a hard time understanding the person I was when I posted such posts. It always seemed like I was depressed, stupid, and just flat out angry at the world. That was, until a couple of Mays ago. That when I met my best friend, and my life started to change for the better.

When I look at myself today, and compare that to the person that I was when I wrote the first 5 of the past 6 years of blog posts, it’s really different. Today, I don’t feel all that anger, confusion, and struggle that I had to fight through.

But after you’ve read this post thus far, you’d think that I’ve been in a positive state of mind, without interruption, for the past couple of years.

That’s not the case.

That best friendship? It disintegrated. Today it does not exist.

When I jumped on the opportunity to live a dream of mine – working as a sports journalist for the local newspaper – it created a load on my shoulders that I had trouble balancing. This was on top of the gas station job I had at the time, being the best best friend I could be, being the best surrogate uncle I could be, and still maintain myself somehow.

Everything fell apart.

Work kept me away from social time, family time, and Tuesday nights watching Chicago Fire with my best friend, her boyfriend, and their kids. Stress from the gas station job was an animal that was difficult to deal with.

When I found it difficult to keep my composure working both of my jobs, it unfortunately reflected in the friendship and role model purpose I was serving. I wanted to go to bed after nights at the gas station, and nights after covering sports events. With what little time I was having, I tried to pack a lot of good things into friendships and social life. Sometimes I would sacrifice my sleep patterns, just to make everything balance correctly.

The biggest mistake I made in the past year was sacrificing my sleep. I got cranky and over-thought a lot when I was living off little sleep. A few actions of mine caused my best friendship to plummet. I put important things off, such as fixing my car. Every minor setback snowballed to where I was slowly going back to being that depressive, ignorant, mindless self that I was a short few years ago.

My best friend and her boyfriend saw this change in me, also. I didn’t know what to do about all of this. I didn’t ask for help, because I knew this was something I had to figure out on my own and not be spoon-fed on. I got worse and worse.

Finally, everything came to a head one Tuesday night. As mentioned, whenever I could spend time around the kids, I tried to make the most out of it. I loved them, and I’m pretty sure they loved me. We were playing in the living room, and I was sitting on the couch. The oldest, Jordan, tried to lift me off the couch to no avail, pulling and pulling until he gave up. Then the youngest, Elijah, all two years old of him, tried it. I thought it would be cool to reverse the laws of physics and help him fling me off the couch. You know, something odd and amazing. However, when I jumped off the couch (Elijah holding my hand), I landed on Jordan’s ankle.

Long story short, we were roughhousing and I hurt Jordan. This lividly angered my best friend, who proceeded to end our friendship right then and there.

Because this friendship meant the world to me, because she had done so much to lift me off the ground in life, I was devastated. One, Jordan was hurt, and two, my best friend became my ex-best friend. I couldn’t understand it. I tried to talk, but “leave me alone” meant “leave me alone.” The sadness was so much that it almost drove me to suicide. One too many pokes and cries for help and forgiveness and …

It’s been 7 months since I’ve seen her. The last bit of advice she gave to me in life was “Get help, please!”

With my best friendship gone, and no longer a surrogate uncle, I was left empty. My jobs didn’t matter to me. I didn’t think anyone could help me, and I didn’t think I could find help anywhere. I didn’t think anyone in my family could understand the problem that I was going through.

I was lost.

Again.

With no chance of it ever coming back, I tried to do the thing that I knew was impossible to do. I tried to get help. I didn’t know what I needed help with, or who to ask.

It turns out, I didn’t have to look far for help.

I got help. My parents.

When I didn’t think my mother and father would know how to help me, they did. I moved back to my parents’ house for a few weeks because I couldn’t stand living alone at my own place. I thought, since they had never gone through the dilemma that I am going through, that they wouldn’t know how to help me. Turns out, no problem is insurmountable if you are a parent helping your child.

Even though we live five blocks away, I tried to not cling so much on my parents in an attempt to establish my own independence. Dealing with this issue has brought me closer to my parents, and I have been seeking their advice more often since all this this than before.

I got help. My family.

My little brothers have been around enough people to know what I was going through, and were with me every step of the way. Mike and Chris have busy lives working, and in our adulthood, we kind of grew apart because of each of our commitments. Mike and Chris, and I, have had some disagreements with each other over certain things over the years, and there was a little animosity toward each other. Danny is still at home, but has a friendship circle that is large enough for me to only dream about. I didn’t think they would understand what I was going through, until I told them. Then they knew exactly what I was going through, and put aside everything to assure me that everything was going to be okay.

My grandparents, both sets of them, have also been very supportive and helpful. They pointed out things to me that WERE going great for me at that point. Such as the fact that I have a job that is in my career field, and that, financially, I’m doing okay.

Numerous aunts, uncles and cousins have chipped in advice, support, and constant reminders to not let the dark clouds of my life hide the sunshine in it.

I got help. My co-workers.

A bunch of “hang in there”s from my gas station co-workers was small, but enough to make me crack a rare smile.

But most of all, the guys on the sports staff have been extremely supportive in making me feel great. They may not know the exact problems that I was facing (I tried to keep this limited to a few close family), but encouraging me to keep going, giving me plenty of opportunities to make good use of my journalism abilities, and make me feel like an important cog on the sports department wheel.

I got help. Some of the second family – and circle of friends – I abandoned because I thought they, too, would disown me.

My number of Facebook friends dropped quite a bit after all of this. Faced with all of this, I deleted the entire circle of people I knew through my ex-best friend. I didn’t feel like taking any additional backlash, as I fully accepted the blame for all of this. Her aunt later wondered where I had been all of this time. We reached out to each other, talked about it all, and it really reassured me that I was going to be alright.

One of her long-time friends and I bumped into each other at one of the Rock Falls bars one night. I didn’t want to face him, but he reached out to me and we talked about just some of this. This also lifted up my spirits.

With the new Casey’s job, I reacquainted myself with another one of her long-time friends. And then a couple of more, who also wondered if her and I still hung out together. I simply told them, “no.” But the fact that they didn’t look at me and verbally condemn me to eternal damnation was enough to make me realize that I should have turned to help through them when I was really down.

They were concerned about me, since I sort of cut them off with no explanation when I did.

So if any more inquire, I’m still standing and still alive.

And I feel much better now.

The moving on process has its ups and downs. The first thing I wanted to do was to make it so that I would NEVER act and feel like the way I did again. Instead of tearing down my life and rebuilding, I made several changes.

  1. Be more active – Staying cooped up in the house isn’t going to solve any problems. I have made more visits to family, immerse myself in more journalism work, and find ways to be more comfortable.
  2. No more risks – If something was not worth it, I didn’t do it. I felt more conservative about the things I did. I made better choices.
  3. Eliminate stress, even if it meant a drastic change – So I did one thing that goes against point No. 2. I knew the Shell job I had was giving me a great deal of stress, as well as working during times that went against my goal of improving social life. One day, I simply left for good. Only to get hired on at Casey’s later that week (standing offer from the boss).
  4. Get enough sleep – If this means missing out on social functions, or putting off projects, or whatever. For years, I haven’t getting enough hours of sleep, and this has changed. I really do try to get in at least 8 or 9 hours of sleep every day.
  5. Get more out of my days – No more wasted days. From when I wake up to when I go to sleep, I want to do more enjoyable things and enjoy them. No more depressively sitting on the living room chair.

The switch to Casey’s has lifted a lot of stress away. Because I’m able to work flexible hours (either morning, afternoon, or night), I became able to put in more time toward the journalism work I love, as well as get in the time for social fixins at night. I’m glad I made that fresh start.

I’ve been a gas station worker for almost 10 years, doing journalism on the side for all of those years. Working at gas stations isn’t my career choice. Journalism is. With the opportunity to get in some more words in print, I have tried to make good use of the journalism hours I have available to me, and healthfully balance that with the hours I’m getting at Casey’s.

The total number of hours is a bit more than I’m used to, but I’m figuring out a way that I can live off of fewer hours. Less stress.

I’ve had more better days than not, now that I have gotten help, encouragement, and advice.

As for the past, what happens, happens.

Right now, I’m just enjoying all of the good things in it. I’m at the point right now where I’m try to permanently establish my professional life. I’m trying to make more of my days perfect.

And, perhaps more importantly, if I hadn’t have met my best friend, I wouldn’t be enjoying all of these good things I’m experiencing today, such as my newspaper job. I have to give credit where credit is due. She changed my life and, despite whatever animosity, I can’t thank her enough for it.