There isn’t much more now. Mean for the Holidays is nearly finished, and I have something to tell you.
I’ll tell you right now. I don’t have an answer to this question. I don’t know how to give you directions to stay alive. I don’t know how to do anything other than leave a lasting impression in your mind, good or bad.
I do know, however, exactly what it feels like when you lose that light inside you that keeps you going. It’s happened to me. It may come again, but every time that light goes out, I know better how to get it lit again.
Earlier this year, back in April I started to slide downwards. I was struggling to keep writing, I was quickly impatient and my temper flared like I’ve never remembered it to do. I worked and allowed the actions of my rude customers to overshadow the kindness of my great ones. I was short with my girlfriend, I was frustrated with so many things. I hadn’t been to church in a while, I wasn’t writing. I was barely putting out blog content I was proud of. It seemed as if I was trudging through the days in a grey fog without knowing where I was going or what I was doing.
I was losing sleep and I was filled with this growing desperation, and the longer that lasted the ore ferocious the desperation grew. It reached a point where I demanded that I cure myself using whatever means necessary. I didn’t want to feel that way anymore. I didn’t want to be so angry and sad that I couldn’t leave bed. I would go to work and find myself distracting myself with video games as if that would make me a better writer.
I was in a dark place, perhaps the darkest I’ve been in since I was in my teens. I was struggling with waking up, going to sleep and everything in between and it showed. I can’t tell you why it was that way either. I was happy in my relationships and I was at peace with my job, I liked what I did. Of course, everything comes with its own set of frustrations and issues. I was happy at work but every so often something would come up and I would get angry. I was happy with my girlfriend but every once and a while she would say something that flipped a switch inside of me.
I bottled all that anger up for a long time, because I am not supposed to be that guy. Despite my modest following I try as hard as I can to be a reflection of the man you read about every week on this blog. I wanted so badly to be okay and I just wasn’t. It didn’t have anything to do with my girl, or my job, or my friends and family.
The root cause of the issue was me.
I realized suddenly, and with a great impact, that I had stopped appreciating the little things. Whether it was a side effect of my emotional strain or something else, I wasn’t focused on the things in my life that blessed me. I was worried about insignificant problems that didn’t need to hamper my mood. I was outside of my own pants with disappointment in myself and it resulted in a couple months where the only thing I really did was play video games and bitch about my life.
Not to detract from anyone who suffers from depression or anxiety, but to me, I know I can beat those things. I know everyone can in their own way. Sometimes it takes therapy, sometimes it takes medicine, sometimes it takes an extreme force of will, which is how I handle everything.
One of my friends once told me that I am the most strong-willed person he’s ever met. That was a huge compliment to me. I carried that compliment with me for a long time, until this year when I felt as if I had lost that fire inside me that made my world go round. I didn’t tick like I used to. My clock was off.
It took a long time to put the pieces together and understand that I was off. I was operating the same as I thought I always had, it wasn’t until a couple coworkers made some comments, and my friends called me out that I realized I wasn’t okay.
I searched inside myself and found that force of will that I once brandished like a hot iron. I summoned it from deep within me and held on to it, the heat from my own anger burning my soul as I awoke day after day to make an effort when it felt like I wasn’t changing like my mindstate wasn’t getting better, but I still tried. I stopped myself after I lost my temper. I made it a point to do one creative thing every day. Slowly, but surely I came out of the sad sickness I had poisoned myself with and arose from the ashes of the man I had become.
My flesh burned and my mind razed, I realized that it was all a reflection of something deep within me.
I had lost my joy.
When your joy is stolen from you, sometimes it can be difficult to notice. It was this way for me. I didn’t know whether or not I was going to fight or fly out of any situation. I believed everything that caused friction against me was opposition to my entire being. This intrinsic fallacy created the manufactured sadness that enveloped everything in my life. After realizing that I was doing it to myself without realizing it, I fought back.
I fought back and I came out on top and alive and better than ever.
How did I do that?
By creating the concepts that you’ve seen unfold along the last two weeks. Mean for the Holidays was far more than just a content stream for me. Completing this complicated and demanding release schedule was a message to all the evils within me. It was a version of me that was screaming from the top of a mountain into a thunderhead to remind the world that I cannot be beaten.
My goals today are small. My joy, however, is immeasurable.
These short stories and How To posts, the extra content I’ve released has all been because this spring I fell into a deep sadness. I refrain from calling it depression, but if you were a therapist, I’m sure that’s what you would tell me it was.
Whatever name you give it, I succumbed to the shadows within me, those mean and taunting voices. Their claws sharp, their scathing ideals sharper.
It took so much of me to return from that quiet grave I had lowered myself into, and yet here I stand. Reformed by joy.
Surprised by it.
In my deepest darkness, I found joy in creation. I forced myself to do so, and the product was Mean for the Holidays. The first successful long-term project I’ve completed. Regardless of what came up, I made sure to get it done. I made sure to write what I had planned. I made sure to provide the best that I could in each moment. I made sure to say something with all of this, even if you didn’t see it at first.
I made sure that by seeing Mean for the Holidays through, I could prove to myself that I cannot be defeated.
Nothing can conquer me, even my own shadows.
I’m not as mean as they say I am, I’m only evil to my devils.
Don’t give up, today.
That light inside of you isn’t dead, I promise.
It’s only been taunted into submission by your shadows.
Ball them up and throw them out. Beat them. Sever them from your body if you have to.
You are the master of your story. Not your illness. Not your depression. Not your coworkers. Not your customers. Not your projects. Not your ideas.
That thing deep inside your heart.
The thing that makes you, you.
Bring that out into the open and show the world your soul with the way you live.
You cannot be defeated.
You will conquer your own shadows, no matter what.
Thank you for reading this. Thank you for reading all of this. I hope that you have enjoyed Mean for the Holidays. The final pieces of the campaign are smaller, but still so important to me. I hope you stick around for the last bits.
I’m excited to spend time with my family, girlfriend, and friends and feel that light inside me grow brighter.
I hope yours will too.
Don’t give up.
Never give up.
You are stronger than you think you are. Stronger than you think you will ever be.
You will win.
Just don’t give up.
Categories: Umbral Dawning