You are a human being and, as such, you are susceptible to stress. And the more stress you accumulate, the heavier it becomes. At some point, if you accumulate too much, the weight of carrying it can break you.

Twenty-seven years ago I planned to take my life. I had given in to voices that convinced me I was worthless. Thankfully, I was saved from this end by a fucking miracle. And for twenty-seven years my life has gotten markedly better. Which is not to say it’s been a bed of roses. Hardly. I am a human being and just as susceptible to stress as anyone. But, for twenty-seven years I’ve tried to more good than harm.

I’m a pretty simple-minded guy. I break things down to their core elements and put them into one of two buckets: Good and bad. Or, as I like to think, light and dark. At their essence, every decision we make in life is based on these two ideas. Want McDonald’s fries instead of carrots? Bad. Hold the elevator for someone? Good. And of course it scales in every direction. The point is that each decision we make can be put into one of these two buckets.

Because these contrasting ideas are constantly swirling around us in billions of forms, it’s tough to remain vigilant. Still, in the end, the more good we embrace, the happier we become. However, the opposite is also true. Even to our end.


The Ugly Truth

For the past couple months, I’ve allowed darkness to accumulate to a point where Memorial Day was the worst day of my life. I isolated myself and was doing battle with voices that were once again telling me that I was worthless. That my kids no longer needed me. My wife no longer needed me. My business no longer needed me.

If it weren’t for twenty-seven years of reference points to draw upon, I may not have made it through that day. But I did by refusing to believe the lies of darkness and by trusting that there was an ocean of light just out of sight and all I had to do was wait long enough to see it. To get through another hour. Another minute.

The next day was tough. Like a hangover. But I made a conscious decision to focus on light and practice gratitude for what I had. Later in the day, darkness began to lose its grip. By Wednesday I felt somewhat normal.


What I Know

During this event, I cryptically shared my pain on social media. A few people caught on and pinged me offline. I was both ashamed and grateful. And while I wasn’t sharing these messages for attention—darkness told me that I was. And that I was lame for seeking it. Another reason to believe I was worthless.

Here’s what I know: Darkness is clever, insidious, and patient. It wants to win. And it wins by snuffing out light. It’s so literal that I can’t stand it.

Whereas conversely, light simply is. But light is a constant truth that is always accessible. I know this from twenty-seven years of experience making my way in the world trying daily to let light guide the way. And yet after all this time, I’m nowhere near perfect. My darkest day was less than two weeks ago for crying out loud. That said, most people aren’t as lucky to have my reference points. Which makes me sad. I can’t imagine hacking my way through life without them. It’s ironic how pain shapes us.

We all carry stress. Every person you ever meet does. And, as evidenced by the celebrity suicides this week, money and fame aren’t the magic elixirs to happiness that we make them out to be. When someone carries too much weight, they break. Human beings are as equally fallible as fragile. If you feel like you’re at the end, don’t be cryptic about it. Talk to someone. Seek out help. Fuck your pride. Fuck the tough guy routine. Commit to living to see another day. Because I promise you that whatever it is you’re going through–this too shall pass. And the darkness will relent when you turn to the light. And if you think someone needs help, help. Make a call. Go visit them. DM and text them, just reach out. Because if you think someone might need you, they do. Just don’t RT the suicide hotline and think that you’ve done all you can.


Trial by Fire

Twenty-seven years ago I was enrobed in darkness. That’s not just flowery language, it’s the truth. I saw no light. But then, I was blinded by it. And for twenty-seven years, I’ve endeavored to let light guide me. For the most part, it does. But, because I’m human, I’m just as susceptible to the toxic whispers of darkness as the next guy.

In August I’ll recognize twenty-seven years living in light, after twenty-seven years in darkness. And it feels like I’m in the midst of another transition. As though I’m being forged in fire–preparation for the next twenty-seven years. Which, hopefully, will be glorious. Or at least well-lit.

Light is the truth. Darkness is deceit. Balancing these ideas is a heavy burden. Especially these days.

Be the light for others when you can, and please don’t consider those suffering from depression as weak. We are all just fragile creatures doing our best to make it through this life. Sometimes one minute at a time.



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Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.