Wednesday, January 25, 2017


I've suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember. I'm the type of person who can't sleep if I think about the fact that I really need to sleep. I suffer from stage fright in public bathrooms if there's too many people around and I'm not really drunk. I have a fear of failure that makes it almost impossible to talk to women sometimes. And on and on.

When I was really young it manifested itself in a comically intense shyness. Like the time when I was 5 or 6 and we went to Sears to get family portraits taken. When it came time for me to take some solo shots I could NOT stop crying. My parents were standing 10 feet away, but having to sit there and interact with a stranger even that minuscule amount was too much for me to handle, so the best picture we got that day was me half smiling with red, puffy eyes due to all the crying.

When I became a teenager it morphed into me throwing up before hockey games. I mean, I was on the fucking B team, and there were maybe 13 people in the stands at any given game, but my brain treated it like it was game 7 of the Cup finals and I was so scared that something was going to go wrong that without fail my dinner would end up in the toilet five minutes before we hit the ice for warmups.

Now as an adult it mostly manifests itself into social anxiety.  I can't even begin to count the number of times I've ditched out on plans because I just couldn't convince myself to leave the house. Or have almost turned back at the last second when meeting up with a woman on a date, as my brain rifles through nothing but all the worst case scenarios and I get that same feeling in the pit of my stomach as I did while I was hunched over a locker room toilet in full gear, getting ready to go play.

Or the feeling of "I'm am NOT cool enough to be buying these clothes. The people working at this store are going to know I'm a fraud, I should just leave."

Or (as perviously mentioned) trying to pee in a public washroom and basically living out that scene in Waiting where the entire restaurant is standing over my shoulder watching and laughing while I can't even force a trickle out.


That anxiety has been exasperated to an unfathomable degree over the last six months.

I think this is the first time I've been willing to admit this to myself, but I've been feeling depressed for a while. I've found over the last 6 or 7 years that I really feel the effects of Seasonal Effective Disorder, so it's not uncommon for me to just generally feel crappy when the weather turns shitty and we only get like 3 and a half hours of total sunlight a day. But this year has been different.

As most of you probably know I lost my job in September, and I've been struggling since then. Struggling with the acceptance that I took a chance on a great opportunity, and that the worst case scenario ended up happening.

Struggling with the fact that I gave up a close-to ten year career for a new opportunity, and now feel like I'm starting back at square one.

Struggling with the fact that even though I have ten years professional experience, I'm apparently not qualified for even entry-level media jobs because I took the wrong college courses.

Struggling with the feeling of worthlessness. I've went back through the last two years numerous times, trying to figure out what I could have done differently. I worked non-stop, as hard as I could, and tried to do everything to the best of my abilities and that apparently wasn't good enough. So the only conclusion I can draw is that it's me who wasn't good enough.

I know it's probably not the best thing in the world to tie a large chunk of your self-worth to your job, but I did. I always have. Part of the reason I wanted to go to film school and work in the film industry in the first place was because I was like "that's cool as hell that I'll get to tell people that's what I do for a living". AND IT WAS! And then here comes this more-or-less dream job, where not only did I get to brag to people that I watched and wrote/talked about hockey for a living, but I got to pretend like I was a D-grade local celebrity. Even though I'm terrible at small talk with strangers, there's no cooler feeling in the world than having someone come up and tell you they like your work, or just want to shake your hand because they've read your shitty tweets or have seen your dumb face on TV. It made me feel like what I was doing was valuable, and that I was part of something really cool. And then all that just went away in an instant.

And those feelings have now transformed into a depression, and I've fallen into a pretty bad cycle.

My depression from losing my job makes me lethargic, so all I want to do is lay around and read or watch TV and try to distract myself and forget about everything. Then the anxiety of feeling like I'm just wasting days laying around doing nothing sets in, which makes me feel more depressed, which makes me feel lethargic so I end up just laying around doing nothing, which raises my anxiety, lather, rinse, repeat.

I'll fight my way out of this at some point. Hell, if my own mother dying wasn't enough to keep me down, this should be fucking easy. But I'm just in a weird place right now. A place I've never found myself in. Shit just always seems to work out for me. Pretty much every job I've ever had has fallen into my lap in one way or another. I fucking randomly found the greatest apartment ever when I was living in Vancouver, because on a whim I just decided to go check out what kind of places were on Craigslist. I got to go to a dream job every day, just because 8 or 9 years ago my best friend was like "Hey you should check out this Oilers blog I found". Things will work out, as they always do, I'm just struggling to find the light at the end of the tunnel right now.

This should help. I am my father's son, and we don't usually express our feelings out loud. Usually I just bury them down deep inside and just act nonchalant about things (a trait from my mom). But I saw everyone posting their own stories about things they're dealing with or have dealt with, and I figured that today more than any other day was the right time to try and spill my brain and get some things off my chest.

I hope this doesn't come off as "woe is me" because that's not the intention at all. I'm not looking for anyone's sympathy, these are just the things that I've been dealing with lately, and the thoughts that are running through my head. Writing has always been a cathartic experience for me, and this is no different. Reading other people's stories was the motivation to write this, and also helped me feel like I'm not alone in dealing with stuff like this. So if even one person can relate to one thing in here and feel even the slightest bit better about their situation then this post has served its purpose. I mean, hell, it already has served its purpose as I got to get some things off my chest and feel like hopefully I can start to work through this. I mean, I'll still wait till next Monday because I'm a procrastinator and the weekend is, like, ALMOST right around the corner. But still.



Unknown said...

Good for you JS. It's part of the healing & dealing to talk about your experiences & feelings. I've been in a depressive state to some degree or another for at least 15 years which has included anxiety & panic attacks that debilitated me. Some days it's a real struggle. Some days are aces. I don't talk about it enough but DO have awareness & pretty good support within my family & friends. It helps a LOT so don't shut yourself out. Or in, as the case may be. I only started to heal & deal when I let down my barriers slowly. Made all the difference in the world for me. You're a good guy and you're worth it. You'll find a way & those that care for you will help you find it. Trust me on this & take care.
From "one to another",
Bernice aka Smyth94ever [hugs]

Greg said...

Will try this again. I just wanted to say that it is brave and important to post this. You don't know me, but I have followed you for a long time (creepy right?). I've listened and laughed along to your podcast (which I would again), your twitter feed and past blog posts. I don't really engage back unless I feel really strongly that I will add to the conversation and my profession leaves me feeling like I should stay publicly guarded. Anyways, this post made me feel like I needed to respond.

This is for 2 reasons: 1. Your post on social anxiety hit home hard with me. Basically everything you said resonated. I also have a large fear of failure which produces a constant hum of anxiety. I'm always waiting for the worst case to hit. I didn't really realize it until reading your post. Thanks (I think) and I think that I need to give it more consideration than I do.

2. My wife suffers from depression, very severe in her early 20s and manageable now 14 years later. She suffers from social anxiety in a different way than I do, but it is still there and still a struggle at times. At it's worst, it was the worst time in both of our lives, so I know how dark it can be.

I think that seeing her at her worst makes me diminish my own anxiety because it was so bad that I had the thought of "who am I to complain".

Anyways, I wanted to say that there are people rooting for you, even though you may not know it. I often found myself wondering how you were doing after your departure from ON. I was very surprised and saddened by the news. Keep putting yourself out there because your very likable and will get through this.


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