It wasn’t the first time. As I stared down onto the lonely sidewalk as the sun beat down on the back of my neck, I began hyperventilating. I quickly stepped back and stumbled to my car. I jumped in, slammed the door, and pressed my eyes close, taking quick, short breaths the entire time.
Once I had regained some sense of control, I turned my car on and sped back to my rented house where I drifted to my room, locking the door behind me. I spent the rest of the day in a fog lying in my bed switching between staring at the ceiling then the wall, then back again.
Depression had its teeth within me.
I can’t tell you how much time I spent in that room. Those four walls drove me crazy but were my only comfort. Some days I was able to make it to a class or two. Others I never left my room. That year I spent more time doing nothing than any other point in my life. The only thing that made sense to me was music. But I had bought a ticket for a different trip.
I was a college senior at the time, my fourth year pursuing a degree in chemical engineering. I had recently gotten back from an internship where I spent seven months working for a consulting company out of the panhandle of Texas. It was my first taste of the 9-5 job I was destined to live. I entered a curious child and left a broken man.
It’s not that the experience was horrific for me but every day as I left the office I asked myself, “Is this what I’m going to be doing for the next 40 years of my life? Is this where it’s all headed?” And, as messed up as it sounds, the one conclusion my mind came to was if I’m going to do this for 40 years and then march to death, I may as well end it now.
My life was missing purpose and it led to my mental health deterioration.
A big part of my unhappiness was due to my feeling of entrapment. I felt pressured by my parents and by society to continue on this path I was on and be happy with it. I was always told you were supposed to go to college, get a degree, get a job, and have a family. After all, that’s the American way, right?
After leaving the internship and returning to school, I began pushing those around me away. It felt hard for me to connect with my the friends I had made in college previously when they had a set path they were happy with whereas I was not. Fortunately, I did have one friend at the time who was also struggling with his mental health.
We would spend time talking to each other about how we felt each day and the struggles we had to deal with. He was pivotal in giving me the courage to reach out to the school’s therapy and counseling services as well as talk to my parents about my unhappiness. Talking to a professional and to my family helped me cope with my depression.
It’s been a long road since standing on top of that parking garage and there were lots of ups and downs in it. I’ve found out who I can really depend on and trust by who helped me through the thick of my depression. If I’ve learned anything it’s that:
Combating our inner demons can be one of the hardest things to do because it requires true and open honesty with yourself. Some people are never able to achieve that.
But I am here now, pursuing a career as a musician, and trying to show others that it will get better.
How we perceive the world defines how we live. Our perceptions may not always be the best but they can change. If we are patient and willing to change them. @JonJPattie (Click to Tweet!)
Ask yourself and comment—what gives you purpose?
Jon Pattie is a Nashville based indie-pop singer-songwriter, on a journey of self-discovery. His most recent EP, ‘Reflections Vol. 1’ is the first in a four-part series that gives listeners an intimate glimpse into his process of growth and discovery. You can find more information on his website and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify.
Image courtesy of Tadas Mikuckis.