It started when I was fourteen. At least I first remember it happening at fourteen. My first depression. Thats what I call it, depression. I am unsure if that is an accurate description. I think a better way to say it would be that that is when I lost control over what was important to me. All teens experience serious emotions, what with hormones and sex and all that. For years I just assumed that is what it was.
It happened a lot in my teenage years. Depression would hit me in waves that would last months. I would have something bad happen to me and I would retreat into my own head. It didn't help, as all that I would do is relive the problems I had over and over again. It was a dark time for me. I would get depressed, make a bad choice, and then things would get worse. I was gifted kid too. So i could see how all of my problems came about and which of my decisions led to the current dilemma. it is a terrible thing knowing that you are the cause of your own misery. I know that is not true now, but fourteen year old me? He knew none of it. He would spend whole days weeping internally while trying not to let it show. A man doesn't let his emotions show. Not sure where I picked that up, not from my parents...must have been from movies or books or something.
Jump forward four(ish) years. I was in basic training and on the verge of total collapse. every day I would way the options. Continue living, or throw myself down the stairs and take my chances. I had panic attacks over even the smallest problem. This was not all that unusual. Basic is supposed to teach you were your limits are, and then push you beyond. I remember one Sunday morning in particular. I wanted to go to church, but the barracks really needed to be cleaned(I say needed, but that is Basic need, not real need). I was panicking. Running around like a chicken with its head cut off. My friends tried to calm me down. But I could make no real decision, I was waffling over cleaning or church.
Any way, it eventually got to the point where I felt I could not go on. i could not figure out what to do though. I was having a panic attack over whether or not to kill myself. how sad is that? I was so indecisive I could not figure out what I wanted, Death or Life. So I went to my TI(Training Instructor, it is what we in the Air Force called our Drill Sergeants). That's right, I went to my TI to ask if it was OK if I hurt myself. To say I was not thinking clearly would be an understatement.
My TI was a West Virginia man, born and bred. A red-headed, chisel jawed, leather skinned, genuine special forces son-of-a-bitch. I think he may have been born with chaw in his lip. He wasn't a yeller, as a lot of TIs were. That's not to say he couldn't yell, it just wasn't his favorite method of order induction. No, what he would do is sneak up on you, wait until you thought you were safe, and then ambush you with a couple of stern words. He didn't hold hands, he didn't call any fancy cadences. It was all left-right-left and yessir nosir. He was all business all the time.
So one day, Saturday if I remember it right. I go to this man. I go to the scariest sumumabitch I have ever met. The office was a small room taht linked the two bays of my Basic flight. it had a window at each end so he could watch us all from his nice comfortable chair. I do not think I sat in a chair outside of the mess hall once in all of Basic Training. So I went to this man.
I stood awkwardly for several minutes at the door. He was reading.
He turned slowly to me, "Poss?"
I said, "I-I would like to talk to a chaplain...sir." In the Air Force you call your TI sir, I am uncertain how it is done in other Basic Trainings.
He cocked an eyebrow at me. " Why do you need one?"
"I just would like to see a chaplain," I said.
"Well when I call him, I need to give him some sort of reason."
I was silent, not sure if I should answer.
"Are you planning on," He paused, "harming yourself or others?"
"Poss, do you have family? friends?" His tone was still conversational.
I nodded, not making eye contact.
"Do they care about you?"
Again, a nod.
"What would they say about all this? How would I even begin to tell them about what happened?"
At that moment, it struck me how dumb all of this was. Basic really wasn't all that bad(I am not joking here, looking back Basic was highly useful to the rest of my life). I was being silly, I was failing myself and those that I loved. Suicide, self harm, was selfish and pointless. I realized these things while I stood about to ask this man to call a preacher. I think part of me wanted to be talked out of it.
This was not my darkest moment, that came a few years later. I eventually got the help I needed, and while I still struggle with these emotions and desires I have a better grasp on how to deal with them now.
I only thought of this indecent from that time in my life be cause I watched Biloxy Blues today. It makes me sad. Reminds me a lot of things that happened in my life. I have not talked about these things much. I will talk all day about philosophy, game design, and jokes. I never really talk about my life, my real life. So I thought I might step out of that mode of communication for a little bit today and share something real. something that MEANS something. It is mostly just the ramblings of a man caught up for a moment in the past. I don't know if it will entertain, or inform, or what. Anyway, here it is.