We all need to dream. We all need a little relief. We all need to dance, and we all need poetry. We all need a bit of wonder in our lives, and excitement, and melancholy. We need a way to express all these things, and music is the perfect vehicle. It’s the perfect platform for everything you go through to express itself and find a voice. It is so important. It fulfills a place in our lives that nothing else can really touch. -Neal Casal
Four months ago, I was sitting in my living room in the middle of the afternoon, ripping a steak knife across my arm until bleeding and contemplating just finishing the job. I was in a bad spot. The worst I think I’ve ever felt. This was my first experience with cutting. Not sure how I got there really, but there I was, nonetheless. This wasn’t my first bout with Depression and I really was in a place where I wanted it to be my last....I was thinking of just quitting. I was tired of fighting and feeling this way. I couldn’t explain to people why I felt like I did, and I was getting embarrassed and frustrated.
What did I have to feel sad about? I’m in great marriage going on 22 years, two kids that are healthy and doing great, seeing shows and sports at an incredible rate, (80 concerts and over 25 pro and college events in 2018 alone), prepping for another 10-15 years of work before retirement. I feel I have the most amazing group of friends a person could ask for. I was embarrassed to even be feeling bad at all and was starting to get very angry with myself for just being a “whiny bitch.”
But yet, the “you suck, you’re terrible, just quit” voices remained. The feeling of being stuck in wet cement to the point where even walking is a chore. I started looking inward and the blame became worse. How can I do this to my wife? Kids? I’m just dragging them down in my stupid shit.
I truly wanted “out.” The BIG out.
Like I said, this wasn’t new. I started going further back and realized I’ve had thoughts of this nature for a long long time. Four years ago, I was feeling this way, and I thought alcohol was to blame. So I quit. Just said “fuck it,” and stopped drinking. I went to a few meetings, but I soon realized that that isn’t what I needed. It truly works for some, but for me, quitting wasn’t difficult, as I really thought it was the cause of the crappy feelings.
It wasn’t. Flash forward to a few months ago, and I was at the lowest point ever. I couldn’t blame booze or drugs (those who know me well know I don’t do anything anyway besides smoke a bit), so I blamed ME...I must just suck, right?
Thankfully my amazing wife persuaded me to get to Doctors and Therapists and REALLY listen this time. I went- but only put about 70% of myself into it—I was feeling a bit better, but really for some reason this just convinced me that I was the problem. Like I was broken or something.
Fast forward a bit to June. I went to see Jeff at the Mish. Unfortunately, instead of being in my “happy place,” seeing Jeff struggling instantly reminded of my younger brother’s final month on earth. My brother was spiraling and instead of being helpful, I lashed out and we fought. It was ugly. He died a month later. Our last words were in anger. Not a day passes that I don’t wish I would have done something more—anything.
After seeing Jeff at the Mish, I made up my mind to not remain quiet, and I started shouting to all that would hear me. I reached out privately to those I could. I posted reviews of the Jeff Mish show online that were brutally honest, but not at all positive. I hurt Jeff personally—and was told as much privately. I will live with that regret the rest of my days.
The day after Jeff’s passing, I was sitting at my son’s practice and just broke down. This wasn’t crying —at first—this was violent shaking, unable to focus, hyperventilating and then massive sobbing.
Something with Jeff’s death ripped something open in me and everything I’ve ever been holding back came flooding out. I was in a severe mental crisis and was completely unstable. I met with my Dr. and therapist the next morning to see if I could hold it together. These attacks started happening frequently, and I couldn’t work. Couldn’t even drive to make it to work.
With the help again of professionals, my amazing beautiful wife, sons, incredible friends, and lots of live music. I am finally in a place to say I’m going to come out of this. I’ve was on FMLA from work since early June and my first “attacks.” Currently, I’m back at the office, things are going well and I am really ok with it.
Mental health is important. Depression is a tough son of a beast. The stigma is still there, and I am just now to the place where I can say, “fuck it, I don’t care who knows.” I’m not ashamed. I’ve got multiple things to address and some severe PTSD going back decades. I’m going to have to re-evaluate my relationship with some people moving forward, and I don’t expect things will be the same. I’ve got a long road ahead of me, but I’m making a promise to myself and everyone-
I swear I'll find a way to-
Keep On Going
If you are struggling, please reach out!!!!
If you hear about someone struggling, please reach out!!!!
If you think someone needs help and they aren’t able to hear you, shout from the rooftops!!! Tell others! Don’t quit, don’t stop! You are going to piss people off at first., but in the end, it just may help. It just may help. It. Just. May. Help.
Keep On Going. Repeat it to yourself if you need to.
Keep. On. Going. Did you hear me?
Keep. On. Going.
I owe it to Jeff to not quit. We, as fans of Jeff, all do. Take this horrible tragedy and do something with it. Please—stop the infighting and blaming between message boards and internet fan pages. It’s not going to help you feel better—I promise. I’m going to try to use this moving forward. It is going to be the only thing I can take from this madness. Like I said, for everything Jeff has given me, I owe him this much at least. I owe my wife. My kids. Fuck it, I owe myself! !!!! And if you are in a tight spot, you owe it to yourself, too.
Keep On Going.
Please—again—end the stigma of mental health issues.
Check in on your friends, check in on yourself, be available to simply listen. Just listen.
Sorry for the long, rambling post, but it’s been weighing on me for some time.
We’re all in this together folks.