The Mailman's Survival Guide
the Mailman's Blog
As many of my listeners know, 2016 has been a difficult year for yours truly. Not only have I lost most of my vision, which forced me to leave my job as a postal carrier, but I also lost three family members whom I loved dearly. All of these things, along with fighting my chronic depression, led me down a path of despair which seemed to have no end.
In my darkest hour, I wrote a letter. I didn't write it to a famous doctor on tv, searching for words of wisdom, or to a star athlete who could give me inspiration. No, instead I wrote a letter to my depression.
You see, the simple act of writing to my depression gave me dominion over it. It allowed me to say, I choose not to succumb to your cold, dark embrace. I choose not to let you control my life, and destroy everything good I have worked so hard to build. And so, I share this letter with you in hopes that it may serve you as well as it served me that terrible day.
You've always been there with me, through good times and bad. Sometimes whispering softly in my ear, sometimes screaming like a lost soul trying to escape the recesses of hell. You have been my one constant companion, loyal and dependable. Always there in my darkest hours, hugging me with a grip that seems inescapable, yet never comforting.
When life is grand and full of hope, you are there. Hiding in the farthest corners of my mind, waiting for an opportunity to once again feel me in your dark embrace. You offer only self doubt and loathing, and yet I am powerless to break your hold. Or, am I?
Why did you choose me? Why must you torture me like some cruel master who derives so much pleasure in punishing his unwilling servant? What did I do to deserve you? Were you always there? As a baby, did you creep into my room and crawl into my crib, give me solace and earn my trust? Or, did I invite you in?
I do not know which is true, but if it is the latter, I invite you to leave. I know you will not leave without a struggle. Like an angry drunkard being removed from a bar room, you will only go kicking and screaming. Like that irritating salesman, your foot will be in the door. I will push with all my might, and your resistance will be almost insurmountable...almost.
I know you will always be there, banging on the door, begging for entrance. I know there will be times when I will want to let you in, but I have grown weary of our relationship. You are my oldest companion, but not my friend. Like a cancer, you must be cut away from my mind, my body, my soul. I have been given the tools to prevent your return, now they must be implemented. So I bid you adieu old man, and ask you to never return.
Your Oldest Companion
I am but one man in a sea of people. One man, with one voice, crying out to the heavens. Every day, hoping and praying to be heard in a world dominated by politicians and 24 hour news channels. Who am I to speak? What do I have to say that is so important that anyone should listen?
This is the way I, and millions of other people around the world feel. We feel alone and ignored, mocked and ostracized, but why? Is it because we simply don’t have the gumption or grit to stand out and achieve great things, or is it something more? Is it because the disease that afflicts us is unseen, and therefore unspeakable?
Man up! Shake it off! All you want is attention! What’s wrong with you? These are all things I have heard over the years, still ringing in my ears like the residual tones from a shotgun blast.
It’s a funny thing to me. If my arm or leg were broken, would people give me the same advice? How ridiculous would it look for someone to say these things if that were the case? And yet, it’s the most common of responses to someone with a fractured mind.
For years I suffered alone and in silence, thinking that no one could possibly understand what I was going through. Fortunately, I found out I was wrong before it was too late, but thousands do not. Every day, hundreds of people around the world end their suffering the only way they know how.
This is why I speak out. This is why I write. This is why I scream so loudly to the heavens! If I can convince one person to seek counseling, help quell their loneliness or not end their life, it’s all worth it. I may never be a great orator or writer, but I will do my part to raise awareness for the silent majority in the mental health community, but I cannot do it alone. For you see, I am but one man.
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Welcome back dear readers, I write this blog with both a somber tone, and one of celebratory longing. A dichotomy of feelings in a time when the country as a whole is mourning, and yet looking forward to celebrating the upcoming Father’s Day weekend. I will touch on both of these subjects as I try to make my way through this journey we call life.
This past weekend, 50 people lost their lives in a tragic shooting incident in Orlando Florida. It was the single greatest loss of lives in this country since 9/11. As I digest everything that occurred in this event, one thing stands out that both disturbs me mentally and sickens me as a human being, the politicization and propagandizing of the event.
In a time when we as a people and a nation should be consoling the mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters of the people who lost their life, we are instead arguing, spinning, and using the event to promote agendas. I will neither lend credence to any of the arguments, nor will I detract from them. Instead, I will apologize to the families whose lives have been turned upside down and inside out from grief. I am ashamed of what we allow our media and politicians to get away with. There is a time for discussing policy and voicing our opinions on what occurred, but that time is not now.
So, I will get down from my soapbox and discuss the other matter at hand. Father’s Day is this Sunday, and I must say that I am greatly looking forward to it. My father may be the single greatest influence in my life, and Father’s Day is a way of honoring him. We don’t exchange gifts, nor do we dote, instead we exchange our time, our love, and our laughter, which means more than any trinket wrapped in shiny paper.
On this day, we exchange stories and ideas about what it means to be both father and son. We tell tales, laugh, and discuss serious matters that affect our children and us as fathers. We relay wisdom, and things we’ve learned over the years. It is the essence of what it means to be a father to me.
He has molded and shaped me, both good and bad. He is the voice of my conscience, and my moral compass. He is the one man that I still look to for guidance and aspire to be. Happy Father’s Day Dad, I love you.
Hello dear reader, and welcome to my blog. Let me start by introducing myself, giving you some back ground on who I am, what my goals are, and why I feel raising awareness for the mental health community is so important.
My name is Darrell Smith, and I am a writer, pod caster and mental health advocate. I have suffered from depression, anxiety, and sensory processing disorder for most of my life. I am also a former postal worker who has a great interest in both science and science fiction. This explains the silly name of my podcast, The Mailman's Survival Guide To The Galaxy, a cast devoted to raising mental health awareness and letting people who struggle with mental illness know they are not alone.
After years of dealing with my mental illness alone and in silence, I finally found the help I needed through therapy and medication. Because of my inquisitive nature and insatiable "need to know" personality, I decided to educate about myself about my mental illness. While upon this quest for knowledge, I uncovered a shocking and disturbing fact. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 4 people worldwide will suffer from some form of mental illness or neurological disorder throughout their life. Of these, 2/3 will never seek treatment.
This fact, along with the trials and tribulations that I dealt with alone and in silence for so many years, prompted me to take action. I felt that the most effective way for me to raise awareness and educate others was by sharing my story and struggles, and the stories of my guests through pod casting.
I am elated to say that since the inception of the cast, there have been over 10,000 downloads/plays and the numbers continue to grow. While this number truly humbles me (as I wondered if anyone would ever listen), my goal is to reach as many people as possible not only in the U.S. but also across the world. I also would like to travel across the world to do speaking engagements, and be involved in charitable events to raise mental health awareness. I know this seems ambitious, but a guy can dream :)
Well, I will wrap this first blog up by thanking you for taking the time to read this, and asking you to check out the cast. If you enjoy it, feel free to share it with your friends and neighbors. Also you can follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mmsurvivalguide, or follow me on twitter @des2v1. If you have any stories, music, things that inspire you, or just want to say hi, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you, and have a good day :)
Big D is a writer and host of The Mailman's Survival Guide Podcast. His goal is to raise awareness for the mental health community through writing, pod casting, and public speaking.