They say that “the answer is always in the question”… I will never forget the question I asked when I realized that the answer was, “I need to do something to help myself.” I was at the grocery store in Ft. Collins, Colorado where I was living at the time and I was writing a check for my groceries (yes, that’s how long ago this was!) and as I was filling out my check I asked the cashier what the date was. She promptly gave me the date, the 23rd… but I still remained stuck. I couldn’t manage to fill out my check without asking the question that at the time, changed my life, “Umm, I’m sorry, it’s the 23rd… of what month?” She looked at me funny for a second, and I, wanting to avoid eye contact, quickly looked back down at the still blank check that I was working on and waited for her answer…”June.”
June 23rd was the day that I had to admit to myself that things weren’t working out so well. To the casual observer, I was a functioning person. The thing was… there weren’t that many casual observers in my life at the time. I was alone, living in an unfamiliar town and had convinced myself that I shouldn’t leave the house. In my mind I was too ugly to go out in public and not smart enough to be around people..surely they would just look at me and laugh. A few days later I put some dirty clothes (laundry wasn’t a high priority at the time) in an old suitcase, threw it in the back of my 4-Runner and hit the road. I remember stopping at a pay phone somewhere in Kansas off of I-70 and calling my best friend to ask him if I could spend the night when I got back to Tulsa. I woke up on his couch the next morning to Thor, his Great Dane gently kissing me good morning. Before I had left for Colorado, Thor and I used to go for runs along the river in Tulsa. He was either happy to see me again… or ready for a run. Perhaps both.
Over coffee that morning I called a doctor that someone referred me to. I went to her, I talked with her, I got help. It is a very humbling experience to come to terms with the fact that maybe your mind is broken, or that you’re not as strong as you like to think you are. We don’t like to talk about depression or any kind of mental illness for that matter. I remember saying to my dad after he had made some snarky comments about his second wife while she was in the hospital with some mental health issues, “You would not say anything bad about her if she was in the hospital with cancer…but because it’s in her mind you think it’s okay to make jokes about it.”
The thing is, the holidays are here now and I know that this time of the year can be especially tough on a lot of people. Commercials on TV and ads in the magazines are showing us how awesome and amazing and fabulous our lives are supposed to be… surrounded by hundreds of your best friends at parties in ironic, ugly sweaters, being with your huge family in a gorgeous house with vaulted ceilings and a perfectly decorated 10 foot Christmas tree, or waking up to your new Lexus in the driveway with a big red ribbon on it. But the reality is, we sometimes get sad, we sometimes feel alone and we sometimes don’t feel worthy. Here’s the deal though… I need for each and every one of you to be here for the new year… and not only that, I need each and every one of you to be the absolute best you can be! You have a unique gift that the world needs and it’s time to BRING IT! So, if you need someone to talk to, let’s talk… if you need help… let’s get you some help. I honestly don’t want anyone I know to ever have to ask someone for the date… and wonder what month it is.