I’ve always been incredibly self-aware about who I was. I can remember back to when I was in grade 8; I am a man in my mid-forties, so that’s a long time ago, and I always knew something was different about me. I was not like the other guys, I was not into sports, and I didn’t feel like I fit in. I also notice that during gym class when everyone else changed, I started seeing other guys and I started realizing I liked how they looked. I was terrified about those feelings, and I found myself trying to be very careful about where I looked when we changed for gym glass.
I had no conscious idea I was gay at the time I just tried to push these ideas that were bubbling up down deep. I also started writing about wanting to hurt myself as I got bullied by people who thought I was weird. I don’t think they knew I was gay, nor did I but never the less my anxiety started manifesting itself all the time, and I became more and more anxious.
High School came, and I tried to find ways to pour myself into all kinds of different activities, but the more I realized I was gay, the more my anxiety grew as I was so lonely with no one to bare my soul. I remember so many times where I just found myself thinking why am I not like other guys. I kept having awkward interactions with girls that only made me feel worse.
I certainly felt much better once I came out in university, but the anxiety never really went away. I always stressed to extremes. I ever expected to be fired, to get sick, and I always wondered why I was like this. After I moved to Toronto to find work leaving my partner and family behind to try and make a fresh start in work, I started spiraling to the bottom. I landed a job at a place that only made me feel worthless. I was not making much money at all, and I was barely scraping by. I was also asked to leave by a friend I was rooming with and get my place, and I was so concerned I would never find a home. My community volunteer work started adding so much stress to my life that I felt like I had no escape, no outlet, no joy.
It all came to a head after a horrible meeting where my employer looked at me in a meeting and started showing me that it was mainly all my fault why we were not doing well. I was in a flop sweat; my heart was in my throat. I went home and laid in bed just wishing I was dead. I wondered why wasn’t I sick, why didn’t I have cancer, why couldn’t I open an escape hatch and escape my life. I finally drifted off to sleep and woke in the morning, not feeling any better.
I could not take this any longer. Getting myself together for work, I just kept thinking I need to escape. I stood in my little basement apartment bathroom and held the razor to my wrist. Just stood there and said:
“Do it, just cut it.”
After a couple of minutes zoning out on the idea, I got scared and realized I was in a wrong place, and I could not go on.
I was able to get a hold of my Doctor’s office. I wasn’t sure what I wanted when I got there. I told my story to the Doctor and at first, told him I just wanted a note to say I tried to time off. He said wait what if you try again and recommend that I go to the hospital and commit myself in a locked ward. He even asked me if I’d go on my own. I told him I would.
I headed there and so began a journey back towards healing for me and trying to come to grips to my anxiety and depressive episodes. I returned home to St Thomas and spent about six months in therapy. I slowly worked my way back to myself.
Recounting it now it’s funny that I had really to learn that no I was not some loser because this had happened. I had to spend time building up my self-esteem. It’s all still a journey, and I’ve had lots of moments that felt like I was slipping back to the dark space. At one point when we thought I could go off the Cipralex I currently take, and it didn’t work, I cried so hard that I was a failure. The Doctor was so comforting and told me no that was not the case at all. She told me people with diabetes need insulin, they certainly are not failures, and I should not feel the same.
So I don’t. I hit bottom, and I crawled back out. I also discovered I’m not alone. So I offer my hand to all who are reading this. Reach out anytime!