Fun fact, I’m suicidal right now. No, this is not a joke in any way and no, I have no interest or intention of doing it. I’ve been here before a few times and I know how to handle the ride. If things get much darker, I have resources and will use them if needed. That being said this “thing” needs to be put on paper and talked about and if publishing this convinces one person to get help, it’s worth the amount of shit I’ll catch from people saying to “man up” or whatever.
Yes my life is falling apart, yet again… That’s not the point.
One of most fucked up things about this whole situation is that yes, it’s easy to get like this after life has spent a the past 4 months stomping the piss out of me, but it can happen at anytime. That’s why Bourdain ended up hanging himself despite being fucking Bourdain. The thing is that I’ve been worse off than this and handled the situation with a lot more grace.
The way my brain is (mis)wired is that I can handle levels of stress that would cause most men to fold. I’m not simply used to the stress of the Kitchen, I thrive in the chaos of it. And at the same time, some of the most minor shit can send me into a tailspin if I’m not paying attention.
The logic of it is scary.
I’m a smart guy and when I get like this my brain starts going all over the place with things and I find myself being able to come up with some sound and almost rational arguments about why I should die. It’s not always a matter of sitting and crying and having a breakdown. Sometimes you’re stone cold and don’t feel anything which in turn is more dangerous than being upset. When you stop caring about the impact something like this will have on your loved ones and start to view killing yourself as a business decision, there’s a problem.
Pride will fuck you up
One of the few drawbacks to being Scottish is the pride aspect. We tend to be steadfast and independent people who handle our own business. To ask for help is a sign of weakness and while I know it’s not, the pride is still there.
Pride is what prevents you from being honest about how bad off you are. Pride will force you to say that everything is fine while you’re tying a noose. Pride will stop you from reaching out.
This isn’t just in the Kitchen either. Suicide is one of the top killers for guys my age for the simple fact that we are told and taught to just tough it the fuck out and that feelings are for pussies. I’ll agree, the standards of Manhood have taken a dive but that being said, there’s a big difference between losing your shit over a latte and reaching out because you’re about to hang yourself.
Drinking is bad
Like most Chefs I’m a drunk. Not as bad as I was a few years ago but the fact is that most people dealing with this shit self medicate. Hell I’m smoking a bowl right now and can’t function without coffee and cigarettes. The problem with booze is that fact the it’s not only widely available, it’s socially acceptable. Oh and it’s chemically a depressant so there are really 3 problems with it.
Pride won’t let you get help so you try to get relief yourself. Going to a doctor and getting on meds makes you weak and crazy and you’re scared about becoming a dependent on the drugs or how much they’ll alter your personality. But booze is right there and in most places I’ve worked you get 2 shift drinks a night anyways. So you drink to cope and chemically it only fucks you up more. And over time yes, it changes you and makes you dependent so you might as well see a pro and get on something that will help. Ahhh but that fucking pride.
It’s a lot like living with two people in your head
I personally have no desire to go out like a bitch and my pride, oddly enough is what is keeping me going. Yes I’m down, I’ve taken a few bad hits over the past four months. At the same time, as “logical” as it feels right now, I don’t want to die a coward. But this thing tells me that this is it, that I’m nothing but a fuck up and a failure and that my stepfather and ex girlfriend were right the entire time. The other part of me is screaming it’s not true. Yet there’s this darkness that engulfs you that blows all the nasty details of every single mistake you’ve made out of proportion and suddenly you’re putting yourself on trial for that one time you were looking at your phone and didn’t hold the door for the old lady. I know it’s all in my head, I understand the science and how chemicals interact with my brain and I know it’s going to pass. I know all of this and yet it offers no relief. I think back to when I was stuck in Maine and I got out of that, or when I was living in basement of a rockabilly club in Richmond and I got my shit together. I know the various things in my life that have taken a turn for the worse can be fixed and yet, right now everything seems hopeless and I feel powerless to fix it.
Mental health treatment is shit at best.
We fear what we don’t understand and mental health is one of the most widely misunderstood fields of medical science. True, it’s gotten a bit better but not by much. You know what scares me more than dying? Being locked inside the mental ward again for another 3 days.
Some of you reading are thinking “What’s he mean by again?” and the other half of you who have been there understand. Yes, on two separate occasions in my twenties I got locked up for 3 days each and fuck that, never again. I went because I needed help and tried to be honest. They asked me loaded questions and locked my ass up since had I left and done something, it would be a PR nightmare. They weren’t looking out for me, there was no compassion and if anything the approach was more along the lines of “You think you’re crazy? We’ll show you crazy! We’ll give you something to cry about!”
I’ve never taken freedom for granted since but the problem is that now I’m scared shitless to be honest about how bad off I am out of fear that someone will try to get me locked up. Yes, I’ve had an ex do that and she’s why I stopped fucking redheads (seriously, fuck you M). So what I’m saying is that it leaves you unable to trust people who are supposed to be there to help you, even if you are able to swallow your pride and ask for help.
So what do we do?
Fuck if I know…. Seriously I wish I had the magic pill to fix my own shit so I could give you advice on how how to handle this. Words of wisdom don’t mean shit when every emotion is screaming at you to end it. When every event no matter how small is another reason to pull the trigger, no hallmark greeting is going to change it. Even therapy and meds don’t always work and there’s no way to know how bad the side effects will cause. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t consider it as an option, just do your homework and don’t be conned.
But you still want advice?
I’m not a doctor, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a doctor. Repeat after me, “Seth is not a doctor and I can’t sue him if I follow his advice”. Okay so when this type of thing starts to happen I have a few tools that I use and while they might not/won’t work for everyone, the simple fact of being aware of what’s happening and being proactive makes a lot of difference.
Service work: Sometimes you can’t do anything about your own business but you can make an impact on someone else’s struggle. As stupid as it sounds, something as small as a compliment or holding the door can make a major difference in someone’s life. It keeps you busy and stops you from dwelling on the dark.
CBD: Why would I smoke weed that didn’t get me high? Because unlike the other meds, this works damn near instantly and doesn’t have any nasty side effects.
Ayahuasca: No this is not joke. It’s heavy meds but one dose in the right context can reset your brain and give you a whole new outlook. Mushrooms work in a similar way but avoid lsd since bad trips suuuuck.
Meditation: I’ll be covering more on this soon but it helps, it’s free, you don’t need a membership or equipment and you can do it anytime anywhere.
Take a long walk: The fastest most efficient way I’ve found to deal with my own demons is to brew a cup of coffee, roll a few joints and walk to nowhere. There have been many nights I’ve walked from downtown to Northgate or Georgetown and back. While I don’t always figure it out, it calms me down enough to sleep.
If it gets really bad…
Call the hotline. Fuck your pride, call the hotline and be honest with them. These people give a shit, they’re volunteering to help you, not to judge you. You can make up a name, leave out whatever details you need to and they’ll help talk you off the edge and provide you with resources to get additional support. 1800-273-8255