Listen while you read
It was September 12th and senior year was underway. The soccer team was hanging out over a homemade pasta dinner and jubilating over the game we had just won. We were a few games into the season and undefeated…STOKED! When dinner was done and the rowdiness had settled I hoped into my rusty grey and green VW bug and headed home, music cranked! When I walked in the door I was given the message “Lyndsey called, she wants you to call her back.” Lyndsey was one of my good friends. I strolled on downstairs unloaded my back pack soccer gear and took a quick shower before calling. With damp hair and wrinkled fingers I picked up the phone and hit the glowing numbers that connected me to my friend.
“Hey Lynds it’s Aaron what’s up?”
“You need to call Vicky right away!”
She wouldn’t tell me. I was left in anticipation as she hung up and forced me to dial the number of my ex girl friend. When she picked up I was greeted with an anxious and shaky voice.
“Hey Vicky, it’s Aaron. Lyndsey said I needed to call you and that it was urgent. What’s up?”
“Aaron, I’m pregnant!”
BAM….and just like that life happened.
Silence filled the phone receivers for what seemed like eternity. I didn’t know what to say. All I could focus on was the buzzing in my ears and my heart beating like a jumping bean. When I finally came back to reality we ended up talking awhile about the situation and tried to figure out what we were going to do. Really though, how can two kids make a rational or wise decision on a situation that should be reserved for those who have more years under there belt?! We ultimately decided that an abortion was the best plan of action, which was then rejected some time later for the new plan of going through with the pregnancy. Though it’s been hard, I believe all parties involved can agree that this was the best decision. Senior year and high school did not continue or end in the same light that it had started.
**Please be advised: A cold front is moving into the area!**
Darkness started to creep into my outlook
Months went by and the small amount of friendship that had built up between Vicky and I since the breakup evaporated. Hatred and spite took its place. When the day came to see my daughter for the first time at the hospital, I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. What should be a day of joy and celebration was anything but. All I could think, and all I had thought about over the past 9 months, was what a failure I was to myself and to my family. “Why is this happening to me?!” If it had been left up to me, I probably wouldn’t have gone to the hospital at all that day and just treated it like any other school day, but alas, I did go thanks to my family. I can’t recall all the details about the visit or even remember seeing my daughter, but I do remember it being awkward and unpleasant. Not how it should be on the birth day of your child. The visit ended and I was off back to school.
Graduation day came and went with nothing special to speak of. “Thank god that’s over with!”
There was an upside though! My parents gave me a free pass to be able to spend the summer months being a normal teenager. I traveled to Ohio to hang out with my good friend from junior high, playing guitar, causing a ruckus around the suburbs of Kettering, and traveling to Connecticut for a guitar camp. Still some of my best memories!
When I got back home, the summer began to fade and it was time to saddle up and find some sort of 9 to 5. I did, and I spent the next 18 months working on hardwood floors. Every other weekend was spent watching my daughter and trying my best to be some sort of parent. In my free time, I was learning and playing as much guitar as I could by taking classes at the local music conservatory. My only passion at that point in time was music and playing guitar. It kept me sane and gave me something else to focus on besides my life circumstances. In my eyes my only hope was to keep pursuing it and try to make a career out of it.
I applied to a few select schools and eventually got accepted. In the late summer of 2002, I moved out to Hollywood, the land of dreamers and lost souls! While I was there, I met some talented guys and we formed a band. We did and experienced some really amazing things together and they are will always hold a special place with me. During this time I had glimpses of hope where I could see and thought things were going to work out the way I had envisioned. “YES, thank you!” Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see my dream through to its fullest potential. When I look back, I shouldn’t be surprised. I was never fully IN the present moment because my mind was always distracted, even if I didn’t realize it. If I was in the practice room, playing on stage, talking with a fan or just trying to be a human being, I couldn’t. There were always lingering thoughts and doubts. A dark cloud always hovering. I was a broken soul. Just a skeleton of my former self. No curiosity or desire to experience the world around me. My time in dreamland was done and I was headed back home.
**WARNING: Severe weather is entering the area. Strong winds, heavy clouds and rain are likely.**
I was never clinically diagnosed with depression. After my grandpa passed away from suicide I learned that he had struggled with depression his whole life. I’ve read that if a person has family or siblings with major depression, they are 2 to 3 times more at risk to develop depression than the average person. With this in mind, I don’t feel it’s crazy or out of place to say that I was depressed. The days that I wasted in bed with my headphones on, getting lost in the eternal abyss of my thoughts is still vivid in my mind.
Were there good days during all of this? Yeah, definitely! Did I try pulling myself out of this hole? Oh yeah, numerous times. Did I want to feel this way? Hell no! Did I like feeling this way? Hmmm….that’s a tricky one….maybe?. Overall I would say NO but there is more to it than that. I’m not sure everyone who is/has been depressed feels this way, but I feel that there is a certain beauty about depression. For me, music had more meaning. The emotion of those sad songs was felt more deeply. Especially when you found that one song that had a line that described your life or your thoughts perfectly. The nights were more mystical. City lights were brighter and more magical. My imagination ran a little more wild.
I wouldn’t say that I’m 100% the person I once was. I’m not sure I ever will be to honest. What I do know is that I am, at this point in my life, NOT depressed. It’s been a long journey, one that I will always be on. Still, there are days that I wake up in the storm. The difference now is that I don’t stay in that state very long. I acknowledge the thought(s), ask WHY, what it might mean and then let it pass without dwelling. I.AM.NOT.MY.THOUGHTS! I’m still learning, growing and trying to figure it out and am content with who I’ve become.
I don’t claim to be in expert but If you find yourself in the same storm I would like to tell you that it’s OK. Take your time. Be sad. Explore your emotions. Get lost in those sad songs! Know that the events that put you there happened for a reason. Learn from them. You’ll still be loved even if you are depressed and you’ll still be loved when you come out the other side. The only difference is that you’ll love yourself too!
“Your Imperfections Make You Human and Your Humanity Makes You Influential.”
– Josh Shipp