I’m not Ibiza.
Unemployment is an interesting thing to experience.
During my Somewhat Voluntary Period of Unemployment, I found myself struggling to come to terms with the timelessness that my life had taken on. Without the rhythms and routines of work to keep me on track, I felt like time had collapsed, and left me in a place where every day was just like the previous one.
Even now, it’s a bit weird to think about that period of my life because I truly don’t remember much of what happened during those months. Simply put, I was on autopilot; I was there, but never fully present, or engaged in what was happening. Like I said before, my days were all overlapping at that point, and I got to a place where my sole objective was “make it through the day”. And I don’t say that to make it seem like I didn’t have any good times during this particular season of my life. I do have some happy memories from those few months, but they all have a bit of sadness to them. For me, those memories play back in black and white, stripped of the hue variations that would otherwise make them fun to think about.
Another thing that I see in retrospect is how shitty I became during that time. I have pretty strong loner tendencies, so being down all the time just pushed me further inside myself, to the point where I wasn’t too concerned about those around me. I turned into an apparition in my parent’s house, only making appearances when summoned (with food), but generally keeping to myself. And to my friends, I became flakey and evasive, not really caring to give explanations for why I didn’t feel like doing things. In my mind, being by myself was easier, but as you can imagine, that only made things harder for me, and the people who had to deal with me. I try not to ask too many “what if” questions these days, but I always think about how much better things could have been if I had just been upfront about how I felt.
One of my favorite movie moments comes courtesy of 2002’s About A Boy, where Will, an overgrown bachelor, declares that he’s an island, and can exist by himself.
“I’m bloody Ibiza,” he says, right before realizing how ridiculous he sounds.
In a lot of ways, that’s how I looked at myself during those few months. Like Will, I was boldly declaring my self sufficiency, all while dealing with the reality that I wasn’t as good at being a loner as I pretended to be.
In case you were wondering, yes, I’m in a much better place now, and have been for a while. I can’t tell you exactly when my switch went back on, but I do know that God had to force me to look at all of the things that I actually had going for me before I started to come around. The time that I was wasting in bed or in front of my laptop became time that I dedicated to projects that I had previously let fall to the wayside, which led to newer ideas, and an overall flow of creativity that I had never experienced before. I read. I exercised. I made time for friends and family. In short, I found a new rhythm, and was finally at a place where I was living intentionally, and not just trying to make it to the end of each day.
Now before I lose you, I just want to make it abundantly clear that I’m not trying to oversimplify mental health problems. For me, my faith in God is the main thing that helped me hold it together during my down time, but I’m not going to get on here and tell you that all you need to do is put your faith in Jesus in order to get better. That’s not what the goal of this piece is. I wrote this because I realized that, despite all of my reservations, I needed to be honest. Mental health is something that we all need to talk about, whether we’re sharing our own struggles, or helping someone walk through theirs. The biggest mistake that I made during those months was deciding to keep it all to myself, so if I can convince someone to not do that, then I’ve succeeded. If I can open someone’s eyes to traits that they’re seeing in a friend or family member, then maybe they can reach out and come alongside that person. All in all, I just wanted to share a bit of my story in hopes that someone can find themselves-or someone they know-in it.