A majority of this article will be talking about my life struggling with depression and road to healing I’ve been fortunate enough to discover. I’m not looking for sympathy with the posting of my story, but I am looking to show the world that it gets better, you just have to find something to hold onto.
Depression is something I’ve struggled with since about 2012, practically the minute I graduated from The University of Washington. I was on track to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree in Theater Arts, along with a secondary major in Earth and Space Sciences. As much as I enjoyed the ideas behind astronomy, physics, biology, and chemistry, I absolutely hated the *insert cliche* out of math and calculations. I called my parents one day during summer school and asked them if I could drop Earth and Space Sciences to become an actor. They said yes.
Things were really looking up for me. I had, and still have a wonderful agent, I was living in Seattle, I was getting gigs – life was good. But then the crippling reality of the real world kicked in, and I started to fear success. I don’t mean to say I was afraid of my talents or being in front of the camera – I literally was too afraid to try to succeed because I had no idea how. Life isn’t structured like school or university, it’s random and chaotic. I felt like I was surrounded by success everywhere I turned, yet I was trapped in a well of failure with no rope and storm clouds were brewing. All I ever wanted was to be creative – to tell stories either with my body or in some other way, yet it just seemed so impossible. I was afraid to try because it seemed like everyone else didn’t have to.
I Ignored the fact that this was absolutely untrue. Everyone else was struggling in some manner or another, but my mind wouldn’t see it that way. It was only focused on the fact that I was poor, and had very few qualifications outside of being an actor, or maybe director. I had taken a few screenwriting classes and had played around with the idea of writing in high school, but never thought much of it.
Around 2013, I started spiraling into a deep, deep depression, one I was completely unaware of until recently. Growing up, I was obsessed with creation. I would lock myself in my room for days only appearing to grab a snack or hit the bathroom. I would create anything from massive custom lego constructs, to clay dragons (unpainted to this day) but regardless, I was consistently putting out new products.
For a while, I even dabbled in sketching. To this day I wouldn’t consider myself any good, and I surely haven’t sketched in over 6 years by now, but regardless, I was always creating. But this all came to a grinding halt.
I stopped caring about creation. I stopped caring about my future. I stopped caring. I will tell you something I did start – Magic: The Gathering. Without going into too much detail, I spent most of my savings on this game and developed a horrible several year-long addiction to the drafting format, which is essentially a gambling addiction. It was all I ever wanted to do with my life, and my creativity was dead. I was even in a relationship that I put very little effort into more because of my Magic addiction than anything. I didn’t feel love, I just felt obsession for this stupid card game because it was the only thing that made me feel like I was accomplishing anything – as irrational and irresponsible as it was at the time.
Finally, in 2014, I quit Magic and started work at Les Schwab Tire Center, thinking that through hard work I’d start to care about my life again. I’d take pride in my work and learn to feel – something again. Boy howdy did I feel something. I felt anger. It was the first thing I had truly felt in years. I learned something very valuable as my time as a tire salesman. When anger is the only emotion you know – you learn to love it. You learn to mask it, and you learn to thrive on it. This was when I was at my lowest.
I became so good at hiding my anger that everyone in the world thought I was the happiest man on the planet. And I wasn’t angry at the customers, or at my coworkers, though at times I was – but I got over that in an instant. People weren’t the issue, and neither was the work for that matter. It was fun at times, and it was surely rewarding, and in all fairness taught me how to “work hard.” I was angry at myself.
I was so angry that THIS was where my life had taken me – that my college degree, that my hard work, that my creativity, that all of my hopes and dreams turned into nothing but a toolbox and the smell of rubber – and that for awhile, I had reserved myself to the life of a tire salesman. I took up Magic again and lost myself deeper into the pit of hatred. I despised what I was becoming – this cardgame addict daily beating himself up, sometimes being 100% okay with the injuries he sustained. I knew I had to quit the trees along the freeway looked mighty enticing, and for a good three months, I wondered if I’d make it home.
I would like to take a minute here and say that the life of a tire salesman and mechanic is not a bad life. It’s a great one. It’s rewarding and the days are never the same. You’re constantly solving problems, working hard, and doing a great service to people from all walks of life. But it was not the life for me. This was my own reaction to an occupation that has built hundreds of thousands of good people into even better ones – and looking back on my time, it turned me into twice the man I used to be.
After I quit Les Schwab, I had another resurgence of my creativity. I started acting again and starred in two shows – Chicago, where I played the Master of Ceremonies, and Spring Awakening, where I played Moritz Stiefel.
I was living off of my savings hoping to build my resume and just take off from there. Things were looking up again and it felt as though I had just graduated from college. I wouldn’t say I felt “happy,” just not angry anymore. I didn’t look at trees like they were a welcome hug from a long-lost friend. I was alright.
If you know the story of Spring Awakening, you’ll know that Moritz Stiefel ends up committing suicide because he has no idea to deal with sexual urges. He’s a kid, and it’s just too much for him. In my own way, I had been there. From a suicidal standpoint, I knew how he felt, and playing Moritz Stiefel might have been the hand I so desperately needed to pull me out of the well of ever-rising waters. For about a month, I actually believed that the stage lights wouldn’t turn back on every time I was about to pull the trigger. When it was all said and done, so was I.
In my own way, I experienced what it feels like to die – to be so far gone that the only way out is to seek the most unorthodox help. A therapist didn’t help. He was fine and all, but he tried to steer me away from creativity. Fortunately, that unorthodox source came in the form of two things – one we’ve already covered.
The second is my writing. Throughout the years from 2012-2016, I used writing as a way to express myself, like many of us do. It was the only creative thing I did during my depression, and even then it was something I just sort of “did.” It was the thing I did when I needed to kill time and didn’t have a Magic draft to run to, or I was too burnt out on the numerous computer games I’d play. But in 2016, when I moved away from everything and started a less frantic, more relaxed life, I found my creativity again.
I started The Shaper’s Timepiece “Technically back in 2011,” but it was never even close to the version you see today, and for once in my life, I am truly proud of something I have done. It took a year to get to this point, as from 2016-2017 I was still struggling to pull myself out of the well. I was writing, and feeling somewhat good about myself. It was my project and no one could stop me, no one could say it was bad because no one was reading it, and I had the energy and lack of Magic in my life to devote the time necessary. I even started beta sessions which have been immensely helpful, motivating me to hire an editor.
The word about my book was it was fresh, original, and “Always keeps me on the edge of my seat.” I never imagined I could actually write a story that had potential to actually be considered “good,” if not great. Things were looking up.
Then came Cheese Louse: The Grate Cheese Caper. Someone believed in my story, The Shaper’s Timepiece enough to ask me if I wanted to write a new musical for children. I declined for a few weeks, maybe even months thinking I wasn’t good enough for the job, especially one that would “actually be seen live.” But I took the job, and played around with it for a little while until one day, something just clicked. I developed Cheese Louse: The Grate Cheese Caper – silly musical that also explores some aspect of loneliness and isolation while keeping a majority of the runtime light and witty humor. It was this tiny boost in confidence that made me start to smile and love my work regardless of accurate my execution was to the outrageously high standards I was setting for myself.
It wasn’t until my 27th birthday (December 27th – so my golden birthday) when I had the greatest awakening of them all. I went outside to my car to go to my current job at Starbucks (Which I love btw) – when I realized that I was still in the slump. Even if things were going “alright,” I wasn’t in complete control. I wasn’t actively generating new contacts, I wasn’t living up to my potential, and at this rate, I’d still be developing this book I claimed to be so proud of and so devoted to, while Cheese Louise would be a one-hit wonder. I scraped the ice off of my windshield and got in my car to go to work – on my birthday. When I got home, I was a changed man.
I smashed out a new draft and had a few more people give it a look, and while it wasn’t copy edited, I was legitimately proud of my work. The first review came back, and I nearly cried in my computer chair. I had been chatting with this beta reader throughout the entire experience so I knew they were being honest, and they were sure to leave many comments – always constructive.
I’m going to backtrack just a little bit to when I was writing this draft. I realized that I had reached a point in my life, where happiness was not only within reach but right beneath my fingertips. The Shaper’s Timepiece was the perfect platform to shift into a tale of perseverance, and creating your own future. It was the perfect theme for my story, one I had lived. While I’m still on this journey, I have since commissioned this website, gained a following on Twitter, started a YouTube Channel, made contacts in the writing industry, and spent tireless hours fine tuning this epic tale of self-discovery and resilience.
I have no idea what the future holds for me, but I do know that I have the ability to shape my own path and stay on it as best I can. Writing this story has truly helped me understand and come to terms with the life that I lead for four long years. My sight is clear now, and while I’m not quite there yet, I can see the printing press of success off in the distance. That sight alone is enough for me to say that no matter what life throws at me, I am truly free of my depression.
Thank you for listening to my tale.
Never give up on your dreams.