Once upon a time, there was a little boy who was so creative! He drew cartoons, wrote stories and plays and comics, and sang along with many albums played on his Mickey Mouse record player. He performed to hundreds of thousands of imaginary people in countless imaginary sold-out arena shows in his bedroom. He mimicked cartoon characters and singers and TV stars until he had their voices perfected.
Music and writing were his everything, not to mention great ways to escape his anxiety, his inward pain, and sadness.
That little boy grew up, met a girl, got married, joined the military, had daughters, and never lost that love for writing. Then he got divorced, got out of the Air Force, and went from administrative assistant at a computer consulting company to a helpdesk operator to programmer to technical writer, all within a few years.
He started an email humor newsletter that was full of clean jokes and humorous essays he wrote. Hmm, sounds familiar. It didn’t take long before the Cattle Prod Moosletter had 4,000 subscribers. He learned HTML and had his own site on his ISP’s server space. He started journaling his life and posting it…way before “blog” became a word.
Then he moved to Florida and continued journaling and posting. But by then there were sites like Blurty and Livejournal and eventually Typepad, which made blogging a cinch. That’s when SecondHand Tryptophan was born. Then he got his own domain and got into WordPress and started posting silly, funny things almost every day. And he started reading other blogs and making friends. And his blog grew in readership, and so did the blogs of his new blogging friends. And he went to blogging conferences, met even more people…it was the golden era of blogging.
Okay, enough of the third person thing. I lived here in my central Florida town the entire time SecondHand Tryptophan was around. In fact, I lived in this very house, the one that went on the market today.
Back then, very few locals knew of my blog. I’d go to karaoke and mingle with people, make friends, and they had no idea that SecondHand Tryptophan existed. They had no clue that celebrities like Jaime Murray were commenting on my stupid humor blog. I liked it that way. People at karaoke would ask me, “Hey, are you on Facebook?” and I’d say, “No, I’m not.” Because Facebook was for family and my online blogging buddies.
I kept my life very compartmentalized. And it was good.
Then I got burned out and stopped writing. It wasn’t long before the blog got hacked and everything got deleted. And I was upset about it, of course, losing years’ worth of posts. But in the end I was fine with it. I was already finished writing, anyway.
At that point, it no longer mattered whether my local friends were connected to me on Facebook. I didn’t have a blog anymore. So I started allowing my local friends to add me on Facebook, knowing 2HT was dead forever.
Except for the fact that that turned out to not be so true.
9 years later – last year – I revived SecondHand Tryptophan and started this blog. I kept it pretty low-key, I didn’t really announce it. I’ve shared links to my blog a few times on Facebook, but not many checked those links out. Nobody really knew about this blog, not my OG blogger friends (well, a few), not my local friends. I just wasn’t interested in having people reading it because my writing was (and remains) somewhat stilted. I’m way out of practice. It’s not up to par with the Karl of 10 years ago.
Fast forward to four days ago. The video. I shared the link on Facebook to a friend list I created just for sharing the blog link. And I did not mention to that relatively small list of people that I hadn’t shared it with all my friends, just a small list of people. I didn’t tell them, “Hey, don’t share this with anyone. It’s private.” Because it isn’t.
This blog is not a secret. There’s a Facebook page for 2HT and the link to it is on my Facebook profile. It’s easily found on Google. I’m not hiding it. I just haven’t been going out of my way to blast the publicity trumpets. It gets shared on the 2HT page automatically, but there aren’t many people following it. So it got shared by some. That’s my fault, I should have said I had put them in a customized friend list. But it doesn’t really matter. I’m very candid about my depression and I’ll talk to most anyone about it, particularly if I hear someone is feeling suicidal. I don’t mess around with that shit.
I shared the link with a select group of people – people that I felt comfortable sharing such a piece with, though I was in a bit of a rush when I put the list together. I knew the subject matter was rather raw and potentially disturbing to some. Many on that list are OG blogger friends who saw me openly discuss my depression on my old blog. So I had no trouble including them. However, I was way more selective when it came to including local friends on that friend list. I guess because I don’t want people treating me differently just because of my illnesses. Most people here have no idea about my bipolar disorder, which mostly manifests as pretty severe depression. I certainly don’t seem like I’m thinking about such dark thoughts. If I constantly wore my heart on my sleeve, I’d be depressing to be around.
Anyway, I know you’re not supposed to cross the streams, but now local friends have commented on that post. The worlds I kept very separate 10 years ago are colliding. My social media has my old blogger friends AND my local friends. It’s a weird feeling. I have no clue how this is going to work.
Now, why did I make that video? Well, I did it for me, not for you. I tried writing a post and I just wasn’t tapping into anything real, so I decided to try a video instead. I did it to force myself to emote. Because I’m often like an android, void of emotion. Yes, the video was long and rambling, and I did it in one take. I decided I wasn’t going to tap into anything more than I already did with a second try at it. I left it as it was and uploaded it.
The video is not a “Look at me, look at me!” thing. Anyone who knows me and knows the depths of my social anxiety knows that putting that video out there for anybody’s consumption was a hard thing to do. I do not relish the thought of people – especially my local friends – knowing this particular part of me. Again, I did it for me, not for you. I accomplished what I set out to do, which was to tap into something deep.
One reason I decided to post it instead of just keeping it to myself was because I have been told on numerous occasions how much people appreciate my candidness regarding my depression, that they can very much relate. The freakiest part is that, over the years, friends and complete strangers alike have messaged me, emailed me, and told me in person that one of my blog posts about my depression kept them from going through with suicide. I really struggle to wrap my head around that…something I wrote saved lives. It’s very humbling and it kind of shoots my “I have no purpose” down out of the air. Course, I’m very good at ignoring it.
I posted it for those people, because there are many suffering with depression and these horrible, horrible thoughts. Many silent people. Many more than you know. And it’s the silence that kills. It nearly did me in 25 years ago. There should be no shame in talking about these things, there should be no stigma attached to mental illness. But there is. And that’s why I went against the grain and posted it.
Some of my friends were quite concerned after seeing the video. Understandable, I suppose, even though I specifically said – as I have multiple times this past week – I am NOT going to act on these feelings. I can’t NOT think about it, but I won’t ACT on it. Until last week, even my doctors believed me. I mean, my track record is not bad. I haven’t tried anything in a quarter-century. Sorry, dark humor.
I think I’m going to stop sharing my blog links to my personal Facebook feed. There’s a 2HT page for a reason. And if anyone cares to stay updated on when I post, they can either look there or get themselves an RSS feedreader.
My goal is to get into the habit of writing again. Also, to rediscover my humor. I think I will. I don’t know, I guess I’ll figure out what I’m writing about the moment I start typing.
My realtor started listing my house yesterday, already had several people looking at it. Once it sells, and it will probably be fast, I’ll have 30 days to get the hell out of this house. I have no idea how I’m going to make that happen, still so much to go through. I’m not freaking out at all. Okay, maybe a tiny huge amount.