In light of last weeks post, I want to continue with talking about personal issues, and talk about opinions later. The title pretty much sums up what this post will be about, so I’ll jump right into it.
To start off, I want to assure everyone that my depression is behind me for the most part. There are still times where I get some echoes of depression for various reasons, which I’ll touch on, but anyway, depression is mostly a thing of the past and I am very thankful to different sources for putting it down, and I attribute all those sources directly to God on reflection. My depression got in the way of my relationship with God. I went to church, but the church I went to wasn’t connecting with me, and some people came into my life that showed me God’s light and strengthened my hunger, but I am getting ahead of myself. I didn’t see him when I was going through it, but now looking back, God’s grace and love me prevailed over my depression by acting through the lives of amazing people for one reason or another. And ultimately, I thank the Lord that he was there for me, even when I couldn’t see him.
Now for the start of it. My depression first came into effect somewhere around the start of high school for me. What kicked it off was dealing with my AP class and the workload that was put on me. I made it through reasonably well, but it set certain things in motion that would drastically alter my life later. In addition to the work load, there was a ton more freedom given to me, which at first glance sounds like a good thing and in some ways it is. I had the freedom to pick my classes and not be forced into classes with people I didn’t like too much, I had the freedom to leave the campus for lunch if I wanted to (I rarely did), I had the freedom to do more extracurricular activities, etc. But the part of freedom that got me, was that other people had that freedom too. Nobody was forced into a room with me to be my friend. I did have one friend that I bonded with that year more than any other, Gretchen. Thanks Gretchen for helping me through Freshman year, and even though we don’t talk as much now, I still consider you a close friend, so thanks if you read this. Everything else was so shallow. The people I sat with at lunch, while there were probably about fifteen of us, I really only cared to talk to two, maybe three of them. Thing was, they didn’t want to talk to me a whole lot, and they didn’t have to. That pretty much sums of my Freshman year, which was overall neutral, the adrenaline and excitement of a new school offset the bad, and the bad didn’t stack up too much. That summer was pretty uneventful, but my Sophomore year is one I won’t soon forget.
Sophomore year I took another AP class, even worse than the year before that: AP Modern European History. I will say, the teacher was great and I loved the lectures and information, but the workload was basically, over the course of the entire year, to outline ~700 pages of a college history textbook, and submit sheets that basically required you to look at an original document, or something that was relevant to the subject matter, such as speeches from kings, French Declaration of the Rights of Man, etc. Needless to say, I was not willing to commit to that workload. I have self prescribed ADHD, so sitting in front of a textbook as huge and daunting as that doing such montonous work was not something I was willing to do. My grade reflected that, but my test scores didn’t necessarily. At the end of the year, to jump ahead a bit, without having done probably 25% of the outlines or about 50-55% of the ODocs as we called them, I still passed the AP test. The teacher told us he would change our grade to whatever we got on the AP test: 5-A, 4-B, 3-C, 2-D, 1-F. Well because of my refusal to do homework, I had an F second semster, but my grade on the AP exam was a 3, basically showing me that I could absorb average knowledge without even trying. Had I done the homework, which I have no shame in not having done, I probably would have done better, but I was content with my score, I passed. I am a visual and auditory learner, I learn from being involved and hearing things, and reading in small quantities. I can’t keep my attention on a textbook for more than a few paragraphs without going crazy. That’s why his lectures and powerpoints and videos resonated with me.
Enough about the class though, this is about depression and that class didn’t directly cause it, but it was a key factor. My mom seems to judge my worth on a grade. Something she always tells me is, “I know you’re intelligent, you’re capable of so much more. You can do better in school.” Well, my English teacher has been teaching us about the American education system, and I have to say it is absolutely bogus, you can see my earlier post and I think I’ll make another one soon. Thanks Mr. Clarke for inspiring me to speak up, its crazy. Anyway, he said that he didn’t perform well in high school, everything about high school is designed to make you conform and suppress individuality, it goes against all human nature and its why its so tough for so many people, but again, more on that later. He now is working on his PhD and is one of the smartest guys I know. Malcolm X had a sixth grade education and he is one of the greatest orators of all time. He did that by copying the dictionary from A-K while IN PRISON. Why was it successful? Because he was motivated and he wanted to do it. This is the tie in. SCHOOLING IS NOT REQUIRED TO BE HAPPY, SUCCESSFUL, OR MOST OF ALL, EDUCATED. That’s the difference. I was seeking education, the school was giving it to me in a way that I couldn’t process, like putting 91 octane into an 85 octane engine. It kinda works, but not optimally and it ruins the engine over time. This is where it all ties in. I was being judged on my worth because of a system that didn’t work for me, and that F made me feel like an F, when I ought to be feeling like an A+++, because that’s what God sees me as. He loves me, and at that time, feeling like an F for that reason plus others, I dove into deep depression. I felt valueless, like parents weren’t there for me in one form or another. My dad lived in another state, my mom felt distant from her own struggles and a hundred different things. My friends could care less about me, like a post I found on a Facebook friend’s wall, “I’m that friend that has to walk behind the group when the path isn’t big enough. I’m that friend that gets cut off in a conversation. I’m that friend that gets left behind when I ask the others to wait for me. I’m that friend that doesn’t get invited to hang out a lot. I’m that friend that if I want to get invited to go to the mall or some place with a friend, I have to be the one to invite people to make sure I get included. I’ll always be that friend.” That’s pretty much what still haunts me today, because even though its not as bad, there are still moments where I feel that way, and I’ll expand on that later in this post. But that’s what happened my Sophomore year. I was entirely alone. I didn’t have a family, I didn’t have good grades, I didn’t have friends, real friends. I buried it all under computer games, where I had fun and “friends” and television, as a sort of temporary shot of happiness, but the rest of my life was the hangover I had to deal with. I had considered running away, dropping out of school, and suicide.
Second semester is when most of that took root, December-January and it took a break at the end of February because I joined theatre at one invitation from my friend Kori. I almost left that day because she left me alone in the Black Box (a room painted entirely black, where everyone stashed their stuff and Props crew operated). Thanks to two people, Natalie and Amanda, I was invited onto Props crew despite being left by the one friend I had there, onto a team of all strangers. Natalie and Amanda came to be great friends of mine over the following months, and theatre was a safe haven for me, a couple hours a day where I felt I had value and friends. At the end of the year, I hit a high note and everything seemed awesome. I had new theatre friends, I got a bunch of signatures in my yearbook with great things written in there. My favorite is Natalie’s: “Dearest Jacob, I love you more than rabbits like making babies. We gonna hang out dis SUMMA!” There were some disappointments and other great ones, but one that still haunts me is Kori’s: “Hi.” Glad I mean enough to her to bother writing one word. Then my ferret died three days after yearbook signings, and one day after graduation where Natalie and a lot of other great people graduated. I felt alone again, but not for long because the school year was practically over, I had Amanda, and I threw an end of the year party that people came to and we had a blast. And that’s when Amanda stabbed me in the back. At least, that’s what it felt like to me, though if you were to ask her she’d have a different story, which is fine since everyone has different perceptions of reality, but I perceived it as a betrayal that sent me once again spiraling into depression towards the end of the summer and up till about December of 2013, the start of my junior year.
There are a lot of things that added to this melting pot that ended in an explosion, but it started off well. Like I said, we were good friends, she invited me home on the bus with her spontaneously, we were in theatre together, she actually texted me first, I didn’t have to initiate a conversation. It made me feel valued. At the end of the school year, I told her I had a crush on her, and maybe that was the first shot fired in this insane war, but I didn’t think it was too much, I felt I had to be honest. We talked about it over the summer a little, but one thing led to another and we just let it sit untouched, a big gash in our relationship had formed and to me it was out of nowhere and in the back because I had no idea what happened at the time, and still am a little fuzzy on it. It has since boiled up a couple times, and throughout the first semester of this year, Amanda has been the number one cause of my depression resurged, because she made me feel like that outsider friend again. She came into my group of friends, took over, and left me out in the cold. I was alone again, and to me it was solely her fault because she wouldn’t give me her point of view. Things got worse of course as I pushed for answers and got mad at her for not giving them and continuing her application of the cold shoulder. At the last explosion, things settled and I got some answers, and they were painful but appreciated. I was just not that important to her. A casual friend not meant for anything more than a casual friendship at lunch. I still look at her signature in my yearbook: “JACOB!!! Oh my gosh have so much fun this summer. I love hanging out and text me!!” Things obviously changed. We didn’t hang out, I had a pretty awesome summer aside from her, and the only time we texted was when I initiated it and it was all very, you guessed it, casual. Except the times when I pushed for answers and things blew up. But again, I was alone and without any real friends.
Things got brighter, since I still had hope I could repair things with Amanda, I had theatre to lean on sometimes, though being around so many fake friends was hard, people I consider casual friends treated me better than my “best friends”, I had manageable classes, even with two AP classes. Things were fine more or less without Amanda, but Amanda still grabbed a lot of my focus unfortunately. In October, October 14 to be exact, I went to my first youth group at my new church which helped a ton. I had found a better place, where I had Jesus, the leaders, and some youth who actually cared for my wellbeing. This change was inspired because I’d had the last straw with my previous church, Amanda’s brother, Tyler had invited me to the school FCA after a long talk about my wanting to be closer to God, and ironically Amanda’s shunning me made me want to seek he more, and it led me to look for God since I knew she was a Christian after overhearing her talking about a youth group with another girl. Glad any of my friends, 4 of whom attended that youth group, invited me. Maybe they didn’t know I was “Christian” (more like Christian under struggle and doubt), but they never reached out to me and that stung. Anyway, I joined the youth group and was happy there. I made some friends that I hope last my lifetime, and they’ve helped me immensely. So a special thanks to my youth leaders Alexis, Matt, Nathan, Aaron, Stephanie, and Corie more than anyone else. The fall retreat I went on with them was life changing and amazing and fun and I’m closer to them all and more importantly Jesus because of that.
I also had an acting class that was incredible and introduced me, or rather expanded upon small connections previously there, to Sierra and Rebecca, and Amanda was in that class too. The class itself was great, the teacher was awesome, and Sierra is a wonderful person who I enjoy talking to a lot, and Rebecca is the same way and sort of became my replacement Amanda, to a lesser degree. I was hoping she’d be the replacement Amanda, and I still consider her a good friend, but it’s not gonna be what I wanted from Amanda probably. That’s alright though.
Another God-send was found in the most unlikely of places I could ever think to meet a person so awesome: an online computer game. I guess our friendship really started, not including casual gaming friendships, but like an actual friendship started in April when I added him as a contact on Skype, and to this day, aside from Facebook and phone, that’s my primary way of talking to him. We talked a bit about our lives, I found out he was 23 (24 now), his name is Carver, at least that’s his middle name, I’ll spare him the first name since I never call him by it unless I’m joking or want his attention (like a parent using a child’s middle name), he was struggling with his marriage, he’s Mormon, and he lives a few hours away. All of that was important information to me, and I am not like stalking him, he knows all this about me as well, but he has since become my “Amanda”. I confide in him more than I confide in anybody else, he listens to me, I listen to him, and he is my best friend, he is what I was looking for in a friend, and he’s the best friend I could ask for. He helped me out of my depression immensely, more than anyone else in this world (God sent him, I’m sure of it. The odds of meeting him on a game with millions of players is astronomical). I helped him through his divorce, at least I really hope I did. I believe him when he says I did. We are so similar in personality and life experiences it’s scary considering our age difference of seven and a half years. I could go on talking about him, and I love to because he means so much to me, and I have to thank God for giving me my best friend, who despite being Mormon, has made my faith stronger.
All these people I’ve mentioned are hugely important in my life. Amanda and I have settled our differences for the most part, though she still excludes me from stuff often, not nearly as much as before which is good. I learned from Carver and Alexis, both of whom have experienced this situation with their friend/wife respectively, putting so much effort into something that the other person does nothing to contribute to, helped me out and they both gave me the same message. “You have to let go”. (Let it go, let it go! Can’t hold it back anymore….). So as much as it hurt, I did, and I think that was the magic ingredient. It’s not perfect or where I want it to be, but once I let go of Amanda, she suddenly started reaching out to me more and more, and I turned her away in some ways, and in others I didn’t, but once I accepted the fact that I couldn’t change her or ask her to change, she started to change a little. It’s far from where I want it to be, but it’s better, and I thank God for that.
I still feel those echoes sometimes though. I don’t see my youth leaders often, generally only on Sunday and at church and church sponsored activities. Amanda and my other friends still exclude me from some stuff and I don’t have a best friend in person that I can touch and hug and actually be with, and Carver is great, I wouldn’t trade him for the world, but he works all day and I only get to talk to him at late night and early morning, which I am happy to do because school is something that will pass one way or another, and my relationship with Carver will last forever, he is far more important to me than school. He’s going through a rough spot and isn’t as available as I’d like him to be ideally, but I completely understand his situation doesn’t allow that. So I do still feel depressed at times, but overall I’ve overcome it thanks to some very special people, and a very special God. I can see how his plan has unfolded for me. Struggles build character, and I feel more empowered now having experienced such hardships, and God also brought me to him. He showed me how much I need him. I was failing horribly (and literally) without him, and now despite going through incredibly tough school work, I’m happy now. Jesus rescued me. Thank you to all, and thank you Jesus.