The year 2017 was a rough one, which spilled into 2018 to push me into the worst mental state I've suffered. It's scary to find out how much you can feel worthless, stupid, and hate yourself enough not to continue dealing with life. Let's face it, the world is scary and rough, but how we react to all the curve balls can help us grow better and faster. My whole identity in my teen years was music, hair metal bands, to be precise. I didn't prepare for anything else, nor did I have the interest to pursue anything else. So I practiced guitar, wrote songs, made music, read, listened to everything I could get my hands on, and grew my hair to the middle of my back.
During my senior year in high school, a new attitude in music had occurred. There was no more fun in music with grunge as all I got from this modern vibe was let's cry about shitty things in the world. Music was my escape from the shit that happens in life. I didn't know how to contribute to the music scene and decided I had missed my time to become a rock star. I know there is more to blame than grunge, as I didn't have the skills, self-confidence, or a plan of action to achieve tangible goals. Grunge became my excuse to avoid looking at myself and my shortcomings. Now I enjoy going off on rants about grunge crybabies.
There I was outta high school with no skills, education, or confidence. What does a young man do but see how many hours he can work in a week? I had job number one at the local grocery store for the first half of the day—job number two at the Coca-Cola distributor for the evenings. Job number three at the plastic factory my father worked at to fill out my weekends. This was a short self-punishment as I only kept that schedule for about four months. Luckily an uncle told me something, and I listened, "Work ONE job and put in overtime." That is what I did as I went full-time at the plastic factory and worked as many weekends as they could give me.
I was on top of the world until I got sick of the night shift. Soon I left the factory and entered construction life. Working road construction, I was always disappointed with how little overtime I could get. Still, it was nice to get winters off. Then came working for a utility company! My first five years had never-ending overtime. Oh my God, what a find! Little did I know being the "provider" would hurt my little family so much. Oh, and I should mention the slow time is during the SUMMER! That's right, the layoff season was June through September. I didn't take advantage of that until recent years when my body fell apart. As it became harder to walk because of the lower back, I took time off. It became harder to keep positive as I considered myself a workaholic and was proud of it. It was becoming clear that this version of me couldn't keep it going any longer. I needed to accept and evolve.
In 2018 I was broke, couldn't work, or couldn't exercise, but I had to show positivity to my wife as she went through it all. I have always wanted to prove I'm healthy and in control since I was a teen going through my parent's divorce. With constant thoughts of a world better without a little old broken me, I decided what was next for me. I remember driving home from an appointment and just wanting to end the darkness as a light poll seemed to follow me, begging me to hit it with my truck. It seemed like that short stretch of road lasted forever, and I remember vividly hating everyone on the road with me and the intensity in my hands wanting to act. As I write this, it looks so stupid, but it is a turning point in my thoughts. I was a mess, hurting, scared, hopeless, and broken. My therapist could see that I was falling apart. We decided to enter the Hennepin Help Line number in my contacts. I've always struggled with anxiety and depression, but this was stronger and more intense than ever.
The following day, I woke up and knew I could fix my thoughts and life. In my typical fashion of obsession, I began to read self-help books and learn a brand new skill. I took online courses in marketing and persuasion. I still have plenty to learn and try, but this little online t-shirt company gives me a place to be creative, technical, and be a Numb Skull.
My mental health is better because I have an excellent support team, my wife of 22 years, and three daughters. Joan is the one to encourage me on these little business adventures I've tried, even though I sabotage myself. She always sticks by me as I'm unsure why, as I don't deserve her faith. So here are those negative words: we make an excellent team: Jade, my oldest daughter, and family smarty pants. I'm so proud, Joanie, and I have raised a college graduate!!! This is rare in my family as I couldn't be more pleased to hang her diploma on our wall until it hangs in her own office someday. Julia is a young woman who does things her way, defying social norms. She will be a professional wrestler who shares her heart and talent with the world. Finally, Katy's sassy, sweet, never-ending ball of energy keeps our family smiling and striving to be healthy.
As I navigate through my messed-up head, share too much online, and try to create t-shirts someone might wear, I hope you find entertainment from this journey. I'm excited to see what comes of this idea as it grows, and I grow alongside this new monster. My story is nothing extraordinary, but I hope to entertain and make people laugh.