Thursday, September 13, 2012

Stumbling Towards the End of Teenagehood

To understand the thought-process of a man stumbling towards the end of his teenage years is a task that not many can storm with confidence. Our species -- and yes, man and woman are two, unlike one -- is unique in the sense that the audience has to adapt to the darkness that is puberty. It cannot be expected for an onlooker or tourist to simply look at a subject and gain an understanding for what they represent. Psh, pure ignorance! Man is simple, yet complex; drowned in subtext, but blatant in its underlining tone; difficult to translate into sense, but easy enough to comprehend on a generic level.

One does not simply exit the velvet covered lockers of high school and enter the fiery pits of hell college without putting themselves through an emotional overhaul. The transition from secondary school to post-secondary school is something that many teenagers have difficulty doing. I thought that doing a victory-lap in high school would motivate me to get into college; instead, I had bouts of depression and loneliness that left my mind spending several nights in dark places, wondering how long I would feel this way.

After knowing that I had enrolled into college, and that I would be living at home for at least the next two years, I decided to adapt to my surroundings and settle in. I got a job (remember this piece?) and started to have a little more cash in my pocket. I tried to go out more with friends, whether it was at someones house party, or if we wanted to go to downtown Richmond Row and enjoy our youth, but found myself coming home from those nights feeling shallow and pedantic. I started Facebook messaging old friends, hoping to grab a drink or a bite to eat with people I hadn't seen in at least a year, but most were off busy doing whatever their own lives required them to do. 

What was wrong with me? I wasn't feeling myself anymore. I wasn't in the same happy-go-lucky mindset that those around me had grown accustomed to. I had days where I didn't want to talk to anyone, and would rather have stayed in bed till the evening. I had moments where I hated every single person around me, and made me wish that I had my own universal remote that I could mute and tune out others with. I had days where I just felt sad, and didn't know why. Was I depressed? 

I had wondered for the past few months if I was actually "depressed". It's something that I've dealt with for a while, and only recently have told others about, hoping to get better. Normally, whenever I had these moments of feeling down or blue, I would just watch a bunch of stand-up comedy clips on YouTube to help take my mind off of it. George Carlin, Dave Chappelle, Louis C.K., Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, etc. These were my antidepressants. These were my "happy pills". But one day, I stumbled upon (Hey, you know what? I wonder if anyone has ever put "stumble" and "upon" together and made a new social-networking site? Ca-ching!) a clip of Jim Jefferies doing a bit on his own personal demons...


The clip is meant to poke fun at a serious topic, and help Jim bring comedy to a subject that makes many people feel uncomfortable talking about. After watching it, I always felt a little bit better about myself, being reminded that I have so much to be thankful for: Two beautiful younger siblings, a stable group of friends, two parents who love me, a promising future with a college diploma in the works, and a passion for writing that could help influence what I do for the rest of my life. 

But even the drunken ramblings of a comedic genius weren't enough to stop me from having these stretches of time where I felt confused and uninspired. It wasn't even the same type of lazy-stigma that has followed teenagers for generations; it was the "what's the point?" attitude that follows troubled souls. I would begin writing a column that focused on hockey or football, and lose complete interest midway through. I would read the first few chapters of a book and think "screw it, what do I care?". I was losing interest in the things that, before, had brought me happiness and joy. Now, they were just bumps in the road that I was doing my best in avoiding. 

Summer came to an end, and I was now preparing for the beginning of college. Sometimes, I would tell myself that the fall would be a fresh start, that I would get to meet a whole new group of people, and that I would change the person that I was, to whatever I wanted to be. But for some reason, I didn't want too. 

If you're a person who is close to my age and reading this, I am sure you are aware of all the Facebook statuses and tweets that are laced with "peeeaaacceeee out London!" or "officially a university student!". And for the majority of you, you were apart of that. You had that feeling of excitement and anxiousness now that you were attending a new school, where you got to live on your own, make new friends, and get the full student experience. For me, it was another reminder of how much of a loser I was becoming, and how much I would miss my friends who were leaving the Forest City and moving on to a campus residence. 

Now listen: I don't hold that against you. In fact, I am very proud of most of you. The ability to get into university is incredibly difficult, and I had a first-hand witness account of some of my best friends work their asses off to get into their desired programs. But please try to understand that when your entire timeline is filled with self-praise for accomplishing ones goal, it can take a toll. Good? Good. 

I was beginning to question whether the past five years had been a waste of time, and that it was all merely a set-up for mediocrity for the rest of my life. The constant reminders from teachers, counselors, and parents that university wasn't everything, it was the only thing, didn't help matters. I had spent the two months of summer wallowing in my own self-pity, wondering if I was going to spend the rest of my life working 9 to 5, or if I was even going to be able to have a career that involved the very act that I find myself doing at this moment! 

I had to snap out of it. I was in a funk that was destroying my psyche. The mask that I found myself wearing everyday was cracking, and I was beginning to get the feeling that others could see it. I decided to talk to my parents and tell them how I was doing. At first, I thought they would just shrug it off as "part of growing up" and "you'll get over it", but they were much more sympathetic to my situation. My mother, being the nurse that she is, told me that she would do whatever was needed to help me, and that she loved me. My father, who is the #1 figure in my life, was incredibly helpful, and told me that I could talk to him whenever I needed to. 

This story doesn't have a happy ending, simply because there is no ending yet. I still have moments where I hate life and wonder when it's going to get better; I have my days where everything feels like a punch to the gut, and all I can do is smile and take it. Maybe that's due to the severity of depression. Maybe that's a symptom of a mental disorder that I should have investigated. Maybe I should seek professional help. 

Or maybe it is just apart of growing up. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. 

4 comments :

  1. I read this blog because I went to highschool with you and heard you were a very talented writer... you didn't disappoint. I'm no ernest hemmingway myself but this article took a real toll on me and gave me a different perspective on life and the problems I've personally faced in the past few months. Depression can be used in such a superficial way that doesn't completely do it justice, one of the people I am closest with in my life is suffering from depression and I sometimes feel like I know how he feels when he says he has a problem that he must fix within himself. Sometimes you need to do it on your own but the little things in life like this blog truly do help in a young mans struggle in a dark time. I understand the struggle you're facing and I hope you find the secret to happiness or at least something to help you get out of bed. If it helps at all, this blog helped me tremendously and made me respect you more then I did before. Hope you read this Hunter keep doing what you're doing!
    Witten

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    1. Just saw this comment, thank you so much for the kind words. If you would like to talk, you can email me at hunter.crow@hotmail.com

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  2. I went through similar feelings myself when I was about your age, Hunter. In fact, I spent most of my 20s in and out of jails & mental hospitals, not reaching any semblance of stability of any sort until just about 5 years ago (age 26). I hope your path to happiness is easier than mine was. Feeling lost isn't fun, and when you lose interest in things that ordinarily fascinate you, it's apparent something is drastically wrong.

    Ultimately, all that pulled me out of it was starting to make real money as a writer. Perhaps the same will ultimately be your cure, but I sure as hell hope it doesn't take you another seven years to get to that point like I did me when I was 18/19/20 years-of-age (You're 19 right?).

    Anyway, just do your best to keep your head up. It's possibly biochemical, in which case you may need some medication. But when you fully realize that at least a good part of it is perception-based and environmental, remedying the part that pills don't address is difficult.

    I truly wish you luck.

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    1. Hey Brett,

      Thank you for the kind words, sorry to hear about your struggles growing up. I've gotten help and have been taking medications for the past few months, so the process towards getting better has begun.

      Again, thank you for the comment, and thank you for sharing your story.

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