On Monday morning, I was thinking about killing myself.
It’s a feeling I’ve only had once before and I’m not proud of it. But after three months of every conceivable failure, I sat in the terminal on my way to New York and told myself that if I couldn’t come up with a good reason otherwise in the next four days, I would end the losing battle.
It wasn’t a decision that I made lightly. Far from it. Let me explain to you the full extent of what my life has looked like since January:
You wake up every morning literally choking as your throat has filled with mucus from the infection you can’t beat.
It makes it impossible for you to sleep more than two hours at a time (because you can’t breathe) or to eat most food (because you lapse into painful coughing fits that leave you gasping for air).
Which has caused you to lose four pounds as your body is destroying itself.
Plus you still have a broken heart from the fact that you were denied the opportunity of your dreams because of your job. Which wasn’t really a choice since you have doctor visits to pay for, but you don’t tell anyone that you considered quitting because that’s how badly you wanted what you’ll now never have.
You eventually drag yourself out of bed to work, which has become a struggle because you owe a minimum of twelve articles every day, and so you’re working until 4 a.m. just to make sure everything gets done. Never mind liking it; it’s about getting the job done and having to ice your hands afterward because of the strain.
Despite the fact that you’re working harder than you’ve ever worked in your life, you aren’t hearing a whole lot of positive feedback.
In fact, the biggest thing you hear is that you get fired via e-mail in the middle of the night because your now ex-boss doesn’t think you’re doing enough.
Okay, you think, maybe work isn’t going so great for me right now. That’s okay, I’ll take some time to focus on my writing career. You spend 29 days writing a movie that you didn’t think you could pull off, only to realize that it’s going to sit unread on your desk.
So you make the decision to bail out. Everything’s going to be okay, you tell yourself, because I’m going on vacation and I’m going to get to meet someone who’s inspired me and it’ll all turn around.
Except just as you’ve convinced yourself of this, that person tells you that they won’t have time to see you. And while they have awesome and perfectly understandable reasons for that, it’s hard not to feel rejected again.
Because there’s always a reason. There’s always a bad break. These things happen and they make sense. But that doesn’t change that the end result is that you’re the one who gets left behind, looking at the pieces of what was supposed to be your year.
So I resolved that I was going to give myself four days to either save my life or end it.
And I got on the plane to New York.
I did so knowing I haven’t been entirely honest with you. I’ve been skirting around the edges of just how much pain I’m in, because it’s always been my way to not cause a problem for someone else and handle my business myself. So as I sat there in that terminal wondering why very few people in my life had said anything to me over the last three months, I realized that maybe it’s because I hadn’t told them the full extent of my issues. They didn’t know that I needed them.
The truth is I don’t mind suffering. My whole life has been about overcoming adversity. As we talked about in my last blog, I’ll take a bullet for anyone in my life. All I ask is that I have something worth fighting for. Someone who will be there.
I’ve spent my career as an advocate for other people, but I didn’t feel like I had anyone on my team.
I have to thank those of you who reached out over Twitter and text in the last couple of days. I heard from some people that I never expected to, and it helped to hear that you heard my pain and that you were there. There were some people I didn’t hear from that I thought I would, too, but those who took the time I sincerely appreciate.
I let those words roll around in my head as I wandered the streets of New York. I was quite honestly looking for a sign. That sounds so cliche to say, but I needed tangible proof that I still ought to be on this planet anymore.
Then I stumbled onto a very large sign. Literally. I took a picture.
I’m not ashamed to admit I squealed when I saw that sign. I was so proud to be able to stand there and say there’s a giant display featuring three of my friends. I brag about this stuff all the time. I don’t need kids with how proud I am of my friends.
Particularly Philip, who’s somebody that I look up to immensely besides being able to call him one of my closest friends. He’s an amazing person in every respect, and this is a massive opportunity for him. I stood there and I thought to myself, do I really want to not be here to see what happens for him next? I thought back to the long conversation we had in October, and knew I’d miss getting to hang out with him again.
Unbeknownst to me, he was texting me at the same time. So when I sat down for dinner I looked at my phone and found his message thanking me for the interview we did last week. You know, the one I spent seven hours worrying over. He was so sweet in complimenting me for it. And I was reminded again, he genuinely likes me. Likes me enough that his number’s in my phone and we can text each other in the middle of a Tuesday and he actually cares what I have to say.
I ripped the phone off the charger, unplugged my laptop, and spent a few days hashing things out with a number of people who let me vent about my bullshit more than is probably healthy. Friends that I hardly ever see who took me to lunch, to dinner, and to a museum where we played German death metal over the big scene from Independence Day. (Don’t ask.) I disappeared into New York and just got to be an average tourist, and it felt amazing to get up in the morning without a care in the world.
Then on Wednesday I took a trip to the New York branch of The Paley Center for Media, and I finally saw the PaleyFest panel that was held for Sports Night back in 1999. I sat there for an hour and a half watching the show that gave me a writing career, and the people who continue to inspire me to this day. I’m watching Josh Charles talking, thinking about how he was the first person who ever served as any kind of a muse for me, and now almost 20 years later we’re friends on social media. The high school kid who watched Sports Night could never have fathomed that, but the adult me can claim it.
I needed to be reminded of why I first became passionate about television, about writing, about life. Why I do what I do, and who I do it for.
We went to a show at 54 Below that featured all the songs from musicals that never made it to Broadway. I sat there and listened to every story of how financing fell through and people’s dreams got crushed. Yet all of them had gone on to other shows, and other success stories. They kept going ostensibly because they couldn’t imagine doing anything else, and that’s me, too. At my heart, I could never imagine being anything other than a writer. I certainly don’t want to leave this planet without at least bringing something to life.
I’m still not completely sure what’s going on in my life. I am not entirely okay. There’s still a lot that I need to work through, and I have to make sure that I don’t go back to work on Monday and promptly re-bury myself. I also have to get re-evaluated by a doctor and heaven knows what that will bring. So if I’m being honest, please don’t think that all is well with me now, because chances are I might need some help again.
But now I’m no longer afraid to ask. To admit that I’ve been really messed up for awhile, and I needed to make a drastic change.
To peel away all the pressure, and the post quotas and the mindless emails (like the person who decided to use my tweets as an excuse to pitch me a story – I wish I was kidding).
To get back to what I love, why I love it, and who I love most of all.
Tomorrow is a new week, and so here’s to new beginnings. With old friends and old dreams that never died.