Everyone and their toxic ex are selling techniques and simple, standardized secrets promising to get you to the next level. I don’t do that here. Instead, entertain me for a moment while I share a story of how I went from a heaping garbage barge of shame to someone who can’t-stop-wont-stop working and thriving.
One day I found myself on top of a mountain in Colorado, stoned out of my mind from a pot brownie, staring down a steep slope in my ski gear and just absolutely unravelling, mentally. I couldn’t shake the thought rampaging through my head that my life was a joke, literally fabricated by someone, that experiencing it was a matter of happenstance and that there was nothing to do but to kill myself because there was no way that I was getting down because I was stuck there with no way down and the only way to end the anguish was to end it all.
In the skin burning heat of the moment, that is all I could think of. I was stuck in a mental loop with no way out, itching to take off my jacket and other various layers despite the near zero temperatures, stuck atop a mountain without any faith of ever getting down.
Never before had I contemplated suicide. By no means do I mean to sound any alarms. Simply, I made it to a point, both physically and mentally, where that action — the termination of my life — seemed both like a plausible and even a preferable choice, albeit briefly.
Objectively, I was just suffering from an acute panic attack, brought on by the consumption of an immense quantity of marijuana after having not used any for a year, possibly exacerbated by an already shaky psychological state.
This wasn’t just any panic attack though. Not only was it the most severe of my life (and, really, 2nd place doesn’t even come close), but it came about during a period of my life that was already singular for its grim and chaotic atmosphere.
I wasn’t happy with my life. That wasn’t entirely new, but the severity of it was. Nay, I would say the dissatisfaction firmly crossed the threshold into self-hate.
I said acidic and mean things to myself daily and not even yoga, meditation, journaling, or regular connections with people I love, could ease that internal critic away.
Days before the brownie induced gut punch of a panic attack, I recall looking at myself in the mirror after brushing my teeth and suddenly reflecting on all the self-compromising decisions I had made over the past several years, the good people I had hurt and lied to, the damages I had wrought onto my body and mind, and literally sensing a weight being pressed down on my neck and shoulders.
Like many times before over the past year, I felt ashamed, told myself I hated myself, and wallowed in the regret of the things I did to bring myself to such a sorry state.
Then I went into my room, laid down, turned on some ambient sounds, and cried. Sometime later I told myself, for the umpteenth time, that I couldn’t continue like this. That this self-hate had worked itself well past into self-indulgence territory and wasn’t helping my present condition one bit. I got up, worked on a few tasks that were important to me for an hour and a half, and then finished the night off with a porn marathon, effectively banishing, once again, the resolve I had briefly mustered.
When I got home from the mountain, I didn’t sense an immense shift in my life or myself. I recognized that the panic attack was of a level beyond anything I had experienced before, but given my trajectory, I wasn’t surprised. It was only several weeks later, at which point my life had begun to take on a different form and quality, that I started to suspect that something was unequivocally different.
Though I knew that the panic attack made for a very neat and symbolic turning point — to implode and finally veer way off the deep end or to begin to heal — I’m not certain that the mountain had all that much to do with it.
I was tired. Tired of all the BS, the half-assedry of everything I did. I was fatigued with the temper tantrums, the deep pits of despond, the brief, frenetic periods of concentration punctuated by stretches of languid mental vegetation.
Most importantly, my self-hate had been cultivated to a potency where it was either going to undo me, or finally force a change.
I credit the fact that I had a healthy, albeit fickle foundation built up by that point to help me traverse the tumultuous mental terrain I had found myself in.
I did all the good things we’ve all read that we should do if we wish to even have a prayer of a chance at success:
I meditated (though never stringing together a streak of longer than 2 weeks).
I journaled. Daily for 5 years now. This is doubtlessly my keystone habit.
Though not very faithful to the practice, I pushed myself to reach out to someone important in my life on a semi regular basis.
I kept in mind the importance of completing at least 1 meaningful task, 1 thing that I could hang my hat on. Though, again, I wasn’t very consistent even with this.
So, I had some good things going in my life. I was self-aware enough to know that what I was doing was poisonous to myself yet lacked the resolve to banish it away.
Until, one day shortly after the mountain incident, I crossed off all the “urgent/important” tasks from my to-do list (figuratively speaking. I don’t actually keep a list).
Then I did it the next day. And the day following that.
Eventually, I hit a bit of a speedbump and crawled through the day, managing only a couple tasks.
But I got back on the horse and kept trotting.
Here I am, 4 months later, rolling out my first ever blog post, finally achieving a goal that I had set out for myself 10 years earlier.
My perspective. The weight of import I put into my goals and everyday actions.
I genuinely believe that what I’m doing daily is vital for my well-being. What happened on that mountain scared me. It made me realize that the way I had been living — indulgently self-destructive — was just no longer tolerable.
I don’t want to return to that life and now that I have had a taste of something different, I can’t see myself ever going back.
The mountain incident may have been the final push, but it wasn’t some elixir. I had a long, albeit bumpy runway of putting in the work leading up to the jump.
How applicable is this to your life? I am not advocating that everyone should go through an “oh shit” moment so intense that they imagine what life without life would be like.
But maybe, for some of you, that is what it takes.
Maybe you have so many “priorities” on your mind that the whole slate becomes too diluted to carry any impact.
Perhaps a lighter plate would be easier to digest. It would surely leave you hungrier for the next meal.
Maybe, you just haven’t “matured” enough in your personal growth journey to feel the full impact or weight of your pursuits.
Maybe, the key is to keep grinding while being conscientious about the relationship between your actions and your goals, and with regular reflection (you don’t want to grind in the dark, trust me, you might lose an eye), until things click, or you have a moment where continuing on the same path of half-assing things, or worse, deliberately setting yourself back, simply doesn’t compute as an option.
One thing is for certain — I have never cared this much about my writing, my coding, my art, as I do now.
I don’t know if this story will resonate with you. I do know that this may be the most important story I’ve had to share yet. So important, I was finally able to overcome the hurdle that has stifled me all these years and share my writing for all to see.
Thank you for reading! I hope you were able to gleam something from my story, the first one I’ve ever shared! I plan to share much more on this journey and it would be lovely to have you along for the ride 😊