There is a scene in the movie "Fracture," where Ted Crawford, who was played by Anthony Hopkins, is telling a story to the prosecutor about growing up on his grandfather's farm. As a child he was tasked with "candling eggs." This is the process of holding a candle up to the light to look for imperfections. Those eggs with cracks went to the baker and the others went to the grocery stores. After his first shift, his grandfather came back to see their yield, and much to his surprise the bakery basket was filled with all of the eggs. It was at this point in the film when Ted said, "You look closely enough, you'll find that everything has a weak spot where it can break, sooner or later."
As humans, we are quick to hide our imperfections when possible. For some reason we take these imperfections as weakness. We spend all of our time trying to prevent being flawed, knowing that in the end, it's an unreasonable expectation. We are humans, and it is in our very DNA that we are built to handle our flaws, not be perfect. I suppose you could say that we are all broken in some way. It's not a question of “if," as much a question of “how." And the way we deal with our flaws is what helps us move forward in life. This past month has been a month of great loss and tragedy for me and many others I know. I lost one of my very dearest friends. One of those special friends who was there for some of the most incredible moments in my life. The good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the in-between moments. We shared the types of laughs that made your face and stomach hurt from laughing so hard. The type of friend that would own multiple chapters in the book of your very life. And it was hard. In fact, after 40 years on this planet, I can say without question, it was the deepest pain I've experienced in my life. I lost a great friend in tragic fashion.
In hindsight, I learned that my friend was dealing with some things and in the end those things consumed him. This world is not an easy place to live sometimes. It can be difficult and downright cruel at times if you allow it to grab ahold of you. I can empathize with those dark feelings and the heavy sadness he must have been feeling before his death. You see, like many other people in this world, I have had to deal with my very own problems, many of which are the same issues he was feeling. Roughly 8 years ago, I was diagnosed with a case of clinical depression and anxiety. And, nobody but my wife was aware. In fact, you could say I even hid it pretty well. Professionally I was successful. I accepted promotion after promotion. My personal life seemed to be in order, I was recently married and had a baby on the way. I had all the right reasons to be extremely happy in life, but I was buried in my own head, unable to emotionally breathe. I just couldn't seem to handle all life's changes coming my way. It was both an exciting time in my life, and completely overwhelming. The thought of being responsible for another human life, all while juggling a career and dealing with my own flaws, was absolutely overwhelming.
If I would have tried to handle it all on my own, I don't think I would have been able to. It was time to reach out and ask for help. It was time for "breaking the broken." The only way to break the chain of depression is to think about the things that are consuming you, learn to handle them differently and look to things that can bring a little light back into your life. For me personally, I had to stop spending every hour I was alive solely handling my professional and personal obligations. It was time to carve out time for me. I needed to let go of the time I spent with the wrong people, and carve out time to spend with the right people. The people that I could be myself around without judgement.
For some reason there is an odd stigma around dealing with mental issues and quite frankly I just don't understand it. If someone injures their ankle, they see a doctor, get prescribed medication and in some cases go through therapy. Nobody blinks an eye. I think it's fair to say the human brain is far more complex than your ankle. So why are people treated differently when they need to navigate through the most complex problems the human body can experience? I believe that there is great strength in knowing when to ask for help and having the courage to make the necessary changes in your life. If you or someone you know if going through tough times, do them a favor and let them know we are all broken in one way or another and you love them no matter what. This might come as a surprise, but some of the world's most successful people see a therapist on a regular basis. Whether for treatment or for prevention, it keeps them centered and on the right path both mentally and emotionally.
It's about time we toss the stigma to the side, and realize that we are all broken in one way or another. We need to do everything in our power to use the tools at our fingertips to navigate this world the best we can. We owe it to ourselves to get help. We owe it to our friends to give them support. We owe it to our loved ones to receive the help when given a chance. My greatest regret is that I couldn't be that person for my friend. I just wish I would have known. Whether I could have helped him or not, I'll never know. But I would have done everything in my power to try. He truly meant that much to me.
Rest Easy Jimmy. I love you man.
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