The Mailman's Survival Guide
the Mailman's Blog
Welcome back dear readers, it has been quite some time since ol' Big D has posted a blog. So, today I have a few things I would like to discuss, including my state of mind for the last few weeks, my thoughts on this past year, why I've decided to continue the podcast, and my goals for the future.
Now, after the last episode, I fell into a pretty deep depression. I was in a place mentally that I haven't been for a very long time. I closed myself off emotionally from my wife and my children, and began to doubt everything I am doing or have ever done in my life. I guess I started wondering why. Why do I do the cast? Why do I try to be nice? Why do I attempt to do what's right? What have I gotten for my efforts? And, why should I continue on the path I am on?
So how did I get to that dark place? What pushed me to the edge? And, what brought me back from the brink?
Let me start by saying my depression wasn't caused by just one thing, It was a multitude of issues all occuring in such a way that it became a perfect storm. A storm so powerful, I didn't believe I could weather it, and yet here I am. All the tragedies of 2016 worked to break me both mentally and physically, and yet here I stand. Here I stand against the tide of the coming year with hope and purpose, not because its easy, but because its hard. It's easy to get discouraged, and wrapped up in your own personal strife. Its hard to have hope...
Now, I'm going to take you back to the beginning of this year. My mother was fighting breast cancer and my father-in-law was fighting brain cancer. While my mother officially won her fight in November of this year, my father-in-law did not. This was the first of many heart aches to come.
Antonio Marie Jr. passed away in February, and left a gaping hole in the hearts and minds of all of us who loved him. Tony was a retired Master Seargent in The U.S. Army, a father, a grandfather, and a great grandfather. He loved his family and his country, and he is missed and thought of every day.
After his death, we moved in with my Mother-in-law as a way of trying to help her in this transition period. Little did we know what was coming down the pipe. In March, the second of 2016's misfortunes occured. That was when I was told by my eye doctor that I could no longer drive, and that my vision was going to continue to decline; and decline rapidly it has. This came as a heavy blow. As a postal carrier, the inability to drive meant the inability to do my job.
As a man who has worked for more than 25 years, this was a hard one to handle. I will be the first to admit that I am a prideful man, and the thought of not working, and needing people to help me with things I have done myself for years has torn at me since the initial diagnosis. I've refused to use my walking stick, I hate that people now have to hold my hand when we walk through places I don't know, and I ridiculed the idea of going to a support group for people who are going or have gone blind; and for what? The sake of my ego?
We move forward to May and tragedy rears its ugly head again. You see, the lady I thought of as my second mother for most of my life was taken from this world. Marie Richardson was one of the kindest people I have ever met. She saw potential in me, even when I did not, and she was always proud to tell people about what I was doing even when I thought what I was doing was meaningless. I will always love and miss her, and the void she left will never be filled.
Fast Forward to July of this year and 2016's tentacles of misfortune strike again. My family lost another member as Charles Thomas passed away. Charlie was a character. He always welcomed you in, tried to feed you too much, and make you feel at home. He loved his family, and he loved my son like he was his own grand child. For that, I will be forever thankful.
For a few months after that, things seemed like they were starting to turn around a bit, and I started to become more hopeful. Yes, my vision was continuing to decline and I was starting to have pain in my legs at night, but the prospect of accomplishing the dream of putting out a comic book was starting to become a reality. Plus, I had filed for disability, and how could they ever decline a guy who has worked all his life and gone blind, right?
In early November, all of that changed as during a doctor's visit, I was diagnosed with the same condition my mother suffers from. This was the cause of my ever growing leg pain that had kept me up for several nights over the past 6 months. It wasn't that I felt sorry for myself after the diagnosis, its that I felt guilty, and sorry for my wife. She had married a man that was literally falling apart. Not only am I going blind, but will eventually be in a wheel chair due to this new condition. Because of this, I really started to push her away. I felt like she would be better off without me, and if I emotionally shut down, she would eventually feel the same way.
All of this, along with being denied disablity, and the massive decline in listeners of the cast sent me spiraling out of control. I was ready to quit doing the podcast, give up on my relationship with my wife, and give up on life. I was ready to burn it all down. That's when a chain of events began that helped me refocus and reinstill belief that what I was doing mattered.
The first thing that occured was a good verbal butt kicking from my wife. She let me know I was not allowed to push her away and that no matter what we went through, we were going through it together. While at times she can frustrate me, she is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I am proud to be her husband.
The second thing that occured was that I happened to chat with one of the hosts of another podcast on twitter. After talking to her a bit, she decided to check out the cast. She wrote me a really nice message thanking me for what I do, and told me about a friend she wished had heard the show. I really appreciated her sharing that with me, and it started to make me re-think shutting down the show.
Then, over the holidays, a miraculous thing happened. One of my nephews, who is ex-military, came up to me, hugged me, and thanked me for doing the show. He said he had been going through a really tough time in his life, and because of the cast he started going to counseling. I thanked him at the time, and later cried like a baby as I rejoiced in knowing that he was taking steps to help himself, and that I was a small part of that.
This chain of events re-instilled purpose and hope in my life. You see, the thing I had forgotten was that going through these tragedies, making these podcasts, and continuing this journey isn't just about me. It affects my loved ones, it involves my friends, and it impacts my listeners. If one person can be saved or have a better life because of the things I've endured and was willing to discuss, its all worth while.
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.