Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Excerpt from the Motley Years (2004-2008)

In May 2006 I returned to Akron after a successful year in law school in East Lansing, Michigan. In the weeks prior to moving I had been admitted to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and I decided to transfer to local school with in-state tuition. I was at the beautifully flawed age of twenty- four and unaware of the impending ascent into the world of financial and emotional chaos I now call mid life crisis. I had proven to myself I was capable of responsibility but I was not ready to accept maturity. I was determined to explore myself before answering to any alternative purpose and I was willing to lead or follow anyone with the same objective. I was fortunate enough to have friends that were in the similar current situations in their lives.

It was the first time since moving away to Columbus for college that all of my best friends and I were living in the same vicinity. Most of them had been living in the same apartment complex for the previous year. Although I had been absent from the area the majority of that time period, I remained close with this group of friends. When I returned permanently, I was welcomed as if I had been with them from the beginning. There were not many girlfriends, serious accountability or mounting debt. It was pre-recession and the idea of our careers being tolled was unconscionable. We still had fast metabolisms, experienced tolerable hangovers and lacked complete moral logic. Our bodies resembled roller coaster more than temples and our minds were more neurotic than constant. There was no statue of limitations on the length this period of our lives would last and nobody was lobbying for legislation. It was our time to live in the moment.

There was nothing external that brought us together. It was was purely circumstantial. I didn't need to share a common creed with anyone to enjoy their company. However, not coincidentally it seemed that everyone shared the same core beliefs. It was unique because none of us were steered in a particular direction growing up. Current trends were shaping my character yet I retained my own individuality and began developing a persona. I was becoming increasingly more liberal and noticed the same in the group. I don't recalled it being in the forefront our of conversations but our actions reflected our evolution. My passion for free religious expression and lack of expression was commonly shared but was merely incidental to the moment. I had become an independent thinker but it went unnoticed because a superior purpose had not yet become the predominate purpose of my identity.

The previous summers we learned the definition of the word multi-slacking. An act of performing several unproductive activities simultaneously. By 2006, It had became a perfected trade. Youtubing videos and eating the proverbial day old pizza were Saturday morning staples. Saturday afternoons were spent at the pool with accelerator on the skin and cigarette in hand. Cheetos were the snack of choice and the five second rule was disregarded during their consumption. One day was never enough. I sometimes stayed away from my own home for an entire three day weekend. I would feign reading case books pool side and unnecessarily stress over law school. This behavior was still acceptable to us and admired by our bare elders. I was making up for lost college time and performing sophomoric acts with the friends I never experienced them with.

My introspective moments led to my first taste of tranquility. I could respect other people's desire to have a their own moments and pursue their own desires. I became less stubborn, angry and envious. I observed groups of people and commended their ability to live. I was less self-conscious and more aware of external events than I had been throughout high school and college. I was still years away from becoming a respectful adult but I was beginning to embrace adverse view points and lifestyles. I respected the people that understood and tolerated my behavior even though it still often lacked distinguishable qualities. There was a lack of current sophistication but underlining growth was apparent. These were undeniably party years that laid the foundation for our personal and professional advancements.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Beating the Adonis Complex (2004)

Every morning in early 2004 I listened AudioSlave's first album at maximum volume in my newly purchased Jeep Wrangler as I drove from the Olentangy Commons Apartments to Ohio State University. The jeep had sadly become my proudest accomplishment. A mere mask for the lack of sociability that haunted my internal thoughts. To the backdrop of the music I envisioned entering a room for the first time sober and without self consciousness. I felt invincible surrounded by supportive family, an understanding lady and loyal friends. I would continuously filter internal aspirations of social bliss through my head daily although I was settling for a somber existence. I was mere few months away from earning my college degree but graduation and life did not seem impending. I had not yet aimed to be a friend, a scholar or a professional. I only longed for sense of comfortable. 

Mental health had started to become more frequently discussed amongst people in college. Prior to 2004, most of my knowledge had been derived from basic psychology courses.  I didn't know everyday people were prescribed anti-depressants and I knew little about the science. I was living under the opinion ADs were drugs given to immobilize institutionalized persons like in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.  This notion made me timid to address my concerns. Luckily,  I had a great friend and former roommate had begun taking Zoloft. He told me about the favorable results he had with the drug.   I also had a close friend that was majoring in psychology and contemplating an advanced career in the subject. These two people unknowingly led me to become aware of mental health. Although I wasn't ready to devote myself to my concerns,   I began to understand I wasn't alone with my own personal convictions. 

I had spend the previous two years obsessing over my personal appearance. I was fed up with dwelling over my body and character flaws. My behavior alienated friends and family and made the social bliss scenario I fantasized over was an impossibility. Nothing was ever said to me but I knew people talked about me when I wasn't around. I never moved passed the relationships and friendship of my late teenage years and was purposely avoiding changes.  A product of my behavior had become a full fledged eating disorder, social anxiety and depression.  I began to realize the previous three years passed at the speed of sound and I had failed to begin to form an identity. I knew if I didn't act the next three would pass by just as quickly.   I hadn't liked myself since adolescence and in college I developed a full fledged hatred.  At this point I only needed an external occurrence to begin moving in a positive direction. 

The day after graduation I flew out to Las Vegas with my parents for an entire week. My sister joined us a few days into the trip.  I was still obsessively working out and seriously contemplating competing in another bodybuilding competition. At this point I had hit an all time low. I would wake up with hangover at 8 AM and ride a bus to World's Gym. These trips made me aware I was suffering from body image disorder loosely know as the "Adonis Complex."1   I had no idea that the events that were about to take place would forever change my life and shape me into who I have become today. 

The trip appeared it would be like the other vacations I had taken over the last several years.  Disappointment was an inevitable conclusion with my current mindset. I never anticipated anything out of the ordinary to occur. I reckoned I would celebrate graduation then return to Columbus to work valet and keep my mental health issues secret. However, five days into the trip I suffered a mental breakdown.  It occurred shortly after I lost money playing blackjack.  It was only a hundred dollars but it felt like my life savings. Any loss at that time would have triggered my emotions.  It was the catalyst that finally allowed me to express the negativity that encompassed my feelings.  After losing at the table,  I met up with my father in the lobby of the Imperial Palace.  Without solicitation  I desperately proclaimed, 

"Happiness comes so easy to everyone around me  and I am struggling everyday just to get out of bed.  I am tired of being depressed."