In order to move forward sometimes you have to look back at the past. This story covers from December 2008 to October 2012.
2009 began with me being out of work and steadily job hunting while taking on social media marketing for some musician friends. By September I had to give up my apartment since I could not afford to pay the rent. Moving in with a friend who had a two-story apartment I managed to produce my first nightclub event, house sit for friends in San Diego, job hunt continuously, and push the social media marketing as far as possible. The year was tough with losing an apartment I lived in for over eight years. With the lease solely in my name, but with the lack of income changes were needed.
2010 started with me finishing the sale of the contents of my friend’s two-story apartment, since he wanted to move into a one-bedroom, finding a place to live which ended up being a room rental in Harlem, more and more job hunting, and mapping out the social media for the coming year.
By mid-year the darkness started to settle and I was becoming a less and less happy person. The room rental situation turned into my worse nightmare with the roommate being a slob hoarder and charging me most of the electric bill each month, the job hunting was non-stop with no gains made: interviews had taken place but none yielded the slightest offer even when I was told I had excellent experience. The year also produced me with a bartered turned paid membership to Club H Fitness where I worked my ass off each day since I was gaining huge amounts of weight; normally I maintain about 215/220 and I was pushing past 260!
I started to feel beat down since all the constant effort was getting me nowhere. I was getting more advice on how the next version of my resume should be to how, to write a more personalized cover letter, to networking like an ad man; an introverts worse nightmare.
Saving grace came when I got a chance to move out to San Diego to take a break, get some beach time and a tan since I do look bad when I’m pale, continue job hunting, and do some landscaping for a friend. In the four months I was out there I ate my weight in Mexican food, yogurt, and In n Out burgers. I was tan, rested, and bigger than normal. Hey! Did I just call myself fat?
In the Fall I figured it was time to try NYC again since the job market in San Diego was extremely bad; a headhunter told me she could probably get me a one day job paying $8 an hour. What?! People work for that little and get by?
I flew back just like I had flown in December of 1998…no job, no real place to stay, and really not much money. I like to live on the edge..the razor’s edge at this point. I stayed with my friend I helped move from the two-story to the one-bedroom but the immediate shock was when I got told upon arrival that I would have to leave in a week. My friend had another friend staying and he didn’t want to inconvenience his friend. Then I got told in more or less words that I was not invited to attend Thanksgiving because other people were invited and made plans already.
That was the first smack of pain because it was at that point I started to wonder if I was doing something to piss people off: namely considering that the previous year I cooked a massive Thanksgiving dinner at my friend’s two-story apartment for about 15+ people. Everyone loved it. We all had a blast. It was a great mix of friends.
While couch hopping with two other friends I managed to land a job as a toy soldier at a famous toy store; it is not that hard to guess the name. In my head I thought I would be getting $15 to $25 and hour with 40 hours a week; at my last job before getting laid off I was making $38 an hour. The reality bite was when I got told I would be getting top dollar of $11 an hour! And I would be getting at least 25 hours a week during the Holiday season. I thought well it’s a job and I can go from there.
Being a toy soldier was fun because I was the tallest in the store’s history and I met some great celebrities and tourists. By the end of the year I got a chance to transfer to another department for $1 more an hour with full-time hours. 2011 would seem to be bringing positive change. Shit I was wrong….
2011 saw me transitioning from toy soldier to supervisor of a specialty collector’s department where I sold the expensive toys constantly. In my previous business experience I was used to bringing up new ideas. In this place new ideas were brought up then tossed away because if you proved to be smarter than the managers then you were considered a threat.
The new position brought new challenges with one manager whose insecurity was masked by her threatening ways. She would repeatedly exert the fact that she was a manager and you were to obey her. She did not like me since I challenged her inadvertently with my ability to sell and connect with the customer. About three-months later I was asked to supervise another department. A bigger department with lots of employees to oversee and this mainly happened because the insecure manager was going out on maternity leave.
The new department was fun. The employees were great to work with. My boss appreciated what I was doing and how I pushed to make things better. Another three-months later I was asked to transfer to another department and that’s where the fun stopped and the darkness grew. The new department brought a challenge between me and a manager who thought I was brought in to take her place. She liked nothing I did which was surprising since she was so nice to me; but only because I was not working with her.
For the next four-months I was written up several times for meaningless things (ex. taking too short of a lunch hour), was pulled into meetings with her, my boss, and the GM where she cried crocodile tears because I was apparently being completely disrespectful to her; and yet would be perfectly fine the second the meeting ended – my boss caught on to that quickly. Going to work now became mentally draining and I started focusing harder on finding a better job with another company that paid way more money.
Now during this time I was making $14 and hour and would get at least 32-hours a week because I was full-time. Sadly I could barely pay rent, get a monthly subway card, pay my cellphone or eat regularly. I started living off off gummy bears and Pepsi. My weight went from 266 to 205, and at 205 I looked incredibly thin. I was determined to make life better while sometimes working six-days in a row with a day off then five-days in a row with a day off. It was not fun and I started hating going to the toy store. Between the pay, the hours, and the manager making my life hell my depression grew more and more.
The only shining light was that other employees saw what she was doing to me and said I was supported at least in spirit because it was not fair what she was doing to me.
Towards the Fall of 2011 my boss apologized for putting me in that position and asked if I would transfer to a department that needed help. This was the beginning of the end.
The last department I worked in was the most challenging because of the group of employees. Most were good but there were a handful that were completely disobedient. The “thugs” of the department felt they did not have to abide by any rules: namely one of the supervisors who made it well known that I was not welcomed. Why? Because he felt one of his cohorts should have been promoted to the position I was taking over.
In the months that followed I had to constantly deal with employees who would show up late for work, decide that they would work in the basement the entire shift with that one supervisor, or do a half-ass job while working on the main floor. I slowly realized that there was no support from upper management and day by day I became drained. By the early part of 2012 I knew it was time to leave if I was to get my sense of self back. I was done being in zombie mode to automatically make it through each working day. The lack of trust really hurt me because I did not know who to talk to about certain employees.
There were four supervisors in total for this department and two of them could not be trusted. I had to constantly watch what I talked about in order not to have more disobedience take place. The good employees helped me make it through each shift but I was becoming a ghost in a shell.
I ramped up my job hunting which increased interviews. It got to the point where I felt I was going to get job offers and that is when I gave my notice to leave. For a place that I enjoyed when I first started, I was miserable to the point of physical depression. I was forcing myself out of bed each day when all I wanted was to lay in it and watch TV. I was not living, I was just existing. I did not like that. I wanted to use my brain again. I wanted to be with a company that not only appreciated my abilities but paid decently for them. I was done edging by week by week scrounging for change to either eat, pay rent or keep my cellphone from being turned off.
The notice was given to leave and slowly a lot of the employees throughout the store were sad to hear I was leaving. One employee from a former department said I made it fun to come to work and he was grateful for that. By the last day I knew I would miss a lot of the employees but I would not miss the place. I knew that I was going to get a job offer and life would turn around. I was completely wrong on that.
I left at the beginning of March and by the end of the month the job offers never happened. I was turned down for one reason or another. Had I made the right decision? At that time I did. If I was to break the depression I had to take that chance. Sometimes you need to live life on the edge.
In the months that followed I was interviewing but not getting offers (overqualified, under qualified, asking for too high a salary, etc.) and I was starting to get more and more depressed. I was selling off the remainder of my possessions just to have some money to pay rent. I was following all sorts of advice with how to do my resume and cover letter. I was following job leads that were being sent my way by friends. I kept up the daily hope but it got harder each passing day.
When I ran out of money I rented my room out and slept on the futon in the living room. The loss of having a bedroom didn’t seem bad at first since renting a room helped pay for rent, but eventually the depression grew deeper since I started to wonder if anything would turn around. The growing frustration with not being able to find a job escalated my fears and my anger grew deeper.
One of my longtime friends came to visit during July and it helped that I could bounce stuff off of him in person. He understood my declining mental state since he went through the same thing right after graduating with his PhD. There always seemed more hope when I could talk to him even if the hope faded quickly.
Between the constant applying, the rare interview, the employment agency registering, the networking, and the non-stop job leads and researching my drive never slowed. Yet my depression grew so deep to a point that friends started to worry about me. Why? My rants on Facebook were becoming more and more bitter. I started talking about just walking away from it all. I was admitting, for the first time, that I was exhausted. Here I was the person that had the answers for everything and everyone and for the first time was coming up with no solutions.
The paranoia grew more rampant as I believed friends stopped talking to me since all I would jtalk about was the job hunt, or the three people that started this hateful snowball of decline. I could not help it. It was the only way to release the building tension. I was aware that my thoughts were worrying, or concerning others, but I was not concerned about that; I was concerned about walking away.
I was forcing myself to get outside and walk through Inwood Hill Park each day in order to shake up my routine of a day. Since the money was pretty much gone I spent a lot of time in my neighborhood because getting to Midtown meant and eight-mile walk. And now and then I would do the walk since a friend said if I came down I could get a Metrocard for the week. Being summer the walks were nice, relaxing, and were sweaty.
I encountered an old high school friend who was in town and stayed with me. He was going through a rut and was traveling around as a way to work things out. In high school we got along then didn’t when he turned on me. Eventually he apologized and we never talked after graduation until he stayed over. His advice was interesting and he never realized the hell he put me through in high school. Somehow it was coming across that I was too judgmental and that may have been the reason why I was turning people off during interviews; at least that was his perspective.
August rolled around and I was spiraling much quicker because living in NYC with no money is not easy. I registered with a social service agency that helped people with damaged bionics but that proved to be more frustrating. I was too healthy for housing assistance and too qualified for the job assistance that only could do placements for entry-level remedial positions. I was able to get a free daily meal which helped but only when I had subway fare.
My depression got to a point where I was pondering the mechanics of walking away. I knew that I couldn’t talk to anyone about my thoughts since that would set off more red flags than I cared for. And it wasn’t like I was going to proceed with anything because I was too lazy to do anything, but I became more curious of the process; and the more I delved into it all the more I became comfortable with the action. But can a person really discuss the process of suicide to the point of detail and have someone listen without worrying? It would depend how the discussion was transpiring but also understanding the whole situation.
Being an emotionally detached, more on that in another story, and excessively calculating person, I felt as if I was playing constant chess. Creating strategic moves to keep everyone at bey while dealing with my own self destruction. I know that I have functioned with those two elements for ages and I know that it makes me appear explicitly stoic at times; yes I can easily plug in emotionally but in my past experience it just lets too much trouble – more on that later too.
September rolled around and life was bad. And I mean really bad. My psyche was breaking apart, my body was as thin as every, I was exhausted from lack of sleep and from the depression that just made it all worse. Sending out resumes was pointless since I was getting no responses and I even had a headhunter tell me that I just may not be employable. That turned a painful screw into an area that did not need any further damage.
Taking a side step let’s discuss headhunters. The majority are a bunch of lazy lying selfish fucks who do nothing more than make a person feel as useless as possible by saying that you’re either over-qualified or they can only get you a salary that is barely just enough to live on. Each headhunter I met would say I needed to re-write my resume. How many times can a single resume be written? And why? My experience is my experience and there are only so many ways I can lay it all out.
Of course there are good headhunters but they are a rare find. The good ones understand you. Understand your experience. Understand what companies or industries would be the best fit. When you find one, make that person your best friend.
When it was evident by September that nothing was working out I knew I had to move. I had been out of income for months and what did come in went towards food and subway; I did have friends helping with keeping my cellphone on and I am more grateful than I could possibly express. But where do I go? Was this the end finally?
I had no answers yet I was comfortable with the one final answer. I had already sold everything to my name. I sold/donated my entire music and DVD collection. I had sold/donated anything of value to the point that the majority of what I had left fit into one large suitcase. Stuff is just stuff with very little meaning to me. And with all this happening I could not stop constantly thinking about walking away for good. I was exhausted and I just wanted to sleep. The little bumps of hope here and there from friends helped but the good feeling could not last long enough to make any change. I had no more answers and I had started losing the will to try.
I found a couch to crash on at a friend’s place in Hell’s Kitchen and at least that would keep a roof over my head. I was to the point where I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel, and thinking that a job of any kind would come along was pointless.
And then on the day before I was moving out I got a call from a headhunter, who I did not trust from the start, about a job and asked if I could start Monday: the call came in on the previous Thursday. Hanging up I felt this instant snap back to life. Odd how the notion of having a job brings validation in ways we can never understand until it happens.
The darkness started lifting and instantly I started feeling better. By the end of the next month I found a place to live and the rest is a new history.
In typical New York City fashion life turned around with one phone call and a month later. But getting there showed that I can go to the darkest places ever within myself and become too comfortable.
Once the money was completely gone, I couldn’t pay rent, and I couldn’t get any type of job offer I started going to a dark place within my head that is never supposed to be comfortable. I was viewing the mechanics of suicide as if I was putting together a LEGO toy. I wanted to know the how with already knowing the end result.
Why was I going there?
For all the effort that I was putting into job hunting I was not getting anywhere. I sold off my life to the point where the majority fits into one large suitcase. I was eating once a day and living off of $3 3-liter Pepsi to make me feel full; I am certain I will be in for it when I finally get around to seeing my dentist. And when the one headhunter told me that I just may not be employable I began to wonder why was I bothering.
I ended up in a profession, human resources, that was easy to manage but not what I really wanted to do. The problem was figuring out what I really wanted to do. Each time that subject was broached I battled the depression more and more. I actually felt lost because at 42 I could not figure out what I wanted to focus on.
I signed up with a career counselor for help with direction and she was fucking useless. She couldn’t understand that I needed a job right then and there before being able to lay the groundwork to a fulfilling career. I wanted to talk about my likes, dislikes, jobs from the past to see if she could give me some possible direction. In the end she wasted my time.
And on the subject of direction, fuck all those career counselors who repeatedly say you need to find your passion. You need to do what you like as compared to what you are good at. You need to be happy.
You want to know what makes me happy right now? A job that pays my rent, buys me food, keeps my cellphone on, allows me to get a monthly Metrocard. That is what makes me happy!
Of course I want to find a path that leads me to a job that I completely love. But I still have to figure what it is. The one specific thing that I can focus on because I just want to do it all. And…a job that caters to an introvert because that is what I am; and it works for me.
In dealing with the thoughts of suicide I would work out the mechanics knowing I would never do it. I would have to be careful with my Facebook posts because sometimes I would write stuff that would set off alarms. Discussing mechanics helps me understand situations better. It does not mean I would actually do the action.
I slept very little in those last couple months and when I did I was having dreams that were challenging and physically draining. The lack of sleep, food, and belief in myself wore me down.
Yet somehow I kept making the effort to get through each day. And that took a lot of energy and effort. I did not like being in that head space because the comfort it brought made me believe that eventually I would want to do it.
One phone call and life continues in a new direction. I still say fuck the love and light but if it works for you then do it. I personally do not believe in it anymore.
Four years and lots of trials and I am now getting back on track. Drive is what it takes in any form to get through anything.
But now with the life remodeling I have to address the darkness because if it was that easy to consume my vision, or at least try, then I must make waves to prevent it from happening again.
Love and light bitches.