A Story by Bruce

I got the chance to speak to a friend of mine on Another Lost Boy Story. He reached out to me prior to my flight to New York this weekend as it would be our last time hanging out for a while. I’m excited to share our deep conversation on mental health, addiction, and family traits. This post will be anonymous so let’s call him Bruce.

(This conversation is summarized based on voice memo recording and his permission)

Just Got More Lost

How are you?

It was a lot worst when the pandemic started. When quarantine started I crashed my car and then I lost all my work which really sucks. Last year I felt like I was building my mini-empire and I was on top of shit where I felt good. I had big expectations for this year and then having all that stripped away making me feel like I was down to my bare bones in a sense. I felt very vulnerable and weakened. My momentum was put on pause because of this pandemic.

A lot of my life is extreme highs and lows whether that’s dealing with depression which I haven’t dealt with healthy, ever. When COVID happened all those other feelings started coming back. Those old feelings came back on the surface, like they’re always there but when things get really bad it all starts to come back at you. This whole situation forced me to face it as opposed to distracting myself with other things. As I come to terms with a lot of things, I ask myself, “where am I emotionally?” and “where am I mentally?” with everything and how that’s affected me. It’s like “when was the last time I felt like this?” and what did I do to get over it you know? With everything, all of this is out of my control.

I’m also kind of grateful because not only did I have to face my issues and demons, but I feel like America had to also face its demons as well. The whole George Floyd and Breonna Taylor situation, nothing is distracting anyone anymore so everyone has to face the truth whether that’s about themselves or society. It’s like my demons have always been there but I’ve sort of ignored them this whole time since I was able to distract myself.

There are so many different times I felt this way and I thought I can shake it. My depression got better and my anxiety got better. In 8th grade, I was diagnosed with anxiety, and last year I got diagnosed with ADHD. Those are all different things that I’m trying to deal with. Last year I knew I had all that going on but I felt great with work still. But then this year, I told myself “oh fuck it’s still there”. It’s tough to deal with because I think about all things I’m anxious about or worried and depressed about.

I was a lot more lost than I am now. When this started I was so lost. I had no idea what I was going to do. It reminded me of certain times in my life where I felt this way before. I always anticipate when “a low” is about to come. For example, I’m doing well right now but then I expect something bad is going to happen soon. Quarantine was the bad part.

There are different times like that throughout my life whether that’s having problems with personal relationships, romantic relationships, or any type of relationship. There were things that happened that I couldn’t really control. For example, watching a loved one getting arrested. That was one of those things that changed me. When I think about how I feel right now compared to when quarantine started, that’s what I think about. I was totally lost and felt like crap. There are always recurring feelings or patterns. Whenever I get to a certain point like this some of those patterns are self-destructive and sometimes I have thoughts of self-harm. It’s because I don’t want to deal with it anymore, but those patterns go away eventually. It’s like having a really good high then a really bad low.

During college, I had moments where I felt depressed and self-harm. That’s the same feeling I had once quarantine started. I can just not do life you know. I bet this applies to other people, but for me, I always think about others. For example, if you do self-harm to yourself you are letting so many people down. People care. If anything, there were points where I thought people didn’t care which is why I wanted to do it. But then, I had to convince myself that people care, which they do. Sometimes, it feels like they don’t even if they do. You have to keep thinking about who you’re leaving behind. Who would be so bummed if something happened to you? That doesn’t help stop the pain you’re having but helps you get out of that self-destructive mindset. Maybe I shouldn’t drink this before I drive, maybe I should wear my seat belt, maybe I should wear a helmet, and just be more careful. Don’t drink so much, don’t do drugs, and don’t smoke cigarettes.

I’ve never thought about my mental health this hard until quarantine hit.

I always knew it was there but I get to think about it more like where it comes and manifests from. When you think about it, all our parents have some sort of mental illness. In my family, none of us talk about it. With my family, we’re like silent sufferers. My sister and I started talking more about it this year and venting to each other more. We found the importance of mental illness and talking about our feelings. That’s the things we JUST started talking about it.

When I was younger, if I started talking about my feelings it was not only encouraged but felt condemned. Growing up we weren’t open. If you did speak on it, it seemed like you were complaining. Mental illness isn’t a thing in our family. That’s why I got all my diagnoses by myself.

Family Teaches You How To Love

If mental health was talked about when we’re younger, would that help shape us to be better now?

I had bad problems since I was 4th or 5th grade. My first attempt was like in 6th grade. Different things like that. I didn’t have anybody to speak to about it because at that time when you’re that young no one takes your problems or traumas seriously. I feel like people think kids are SUPPOSED to go through that. People don’t realize how cruel kids could be to other kids. Kids are more honest and brutal about it too. I’m sensitive but back then I was a lot more sensitive but I learned how to cover it up more. I think the solution to my problems is to act like I don’t care. Which is fine, but it’s like you’re tucking it away until it becomes a really big issue. Then you start to think you didn’t really deal with it yet, you just tucked it away and didn’t deal with it.

That’s just the way I was raised. I think my love language and how I love is a lot different. This is probably similar to a lot of people but it’s different for me. You learn how to love from your family and those that are closest to you. I think I had a lot of toxic patterns the way that I was raised and it seeped through my relationships with friends and women. I haven’t had a very successful love life.

The way I show love is tough love and some other people don’t understand that.

As much as I love someone deep down I always have to say what’s on my mind even if it’s mean but at least it’s honest. I get that from my mom. The relationship I have with my mom is a power dynamic but she likes to reinforce that in a negative way which crept into my romantic relationships. When your parents are separated its kind of hard because you don’t know what that long-lasting love looks like. I personally don’t know how to love and maybe the people that I’ve been with aren’t used to it. Maybe I’m the one fucking up. I’ve kind of thought about that before quarantine but now that quarantine is happening I’m thinking about it more.

My childhood has taught me how to love today.

Recognize Toxic Traits Early

Do you blame your parents for not teaching you a more proper way to love?

I don’t resent them for it. I can never hate my parents. There’s a point where kids hate their parents because they were or weren’t there for them. I’ve had issues with my parents but I know they did the best they could. I wish it was different and shit can change but sometimes it’s too late for that. People’s relationships with their parents don’t change all that much at a certain age. It would’ve had to be from the start, but that’s just my thought. If my parents were a lot more attentive or realized toxic patterns beforehand then shit in my life could’ve been different. All of our lives could’ve been different. I can never hate my parents because that’s not who I am. If you hate your parents it’s sort of immature because they love you the best they can in certain situations. I just wish they could recognize it so that it can be different.

Hard Time Opening Up

Would you open up that conversation with your parents now that you’re older?

Honestly, no. I don’t bring this up to my brother even. My brother is my main source of where I get my toxic masculine side. We don’t really talk about our feelings. My sister helps me talk more about my feelings and my sensitive side. When it comes to talking about my feelings to my parents I just don’t do it altogether. I have a hard time opening up to people in general. Even in my relationships or friendships, they don’t normally hear me open up about stuff. People never really know how I feel most of the time because I don’t say much.

Be More Health Conscious

Are there any healthy habits you want to start doing so you are not in so many lows?

I think that’s why I came here. I get to those lows with drinking but I’ll rarely express my emotions and get it out. But I feel like expressing your feelings is the best. As much as I want to do therapy, it’s just expensive and sometimes I get lazy, to be honest. I also don’t want to do video therapy either. I’d rather have a safe space where no one I know is around me to let all my feelings out. Picking up healthy habits can be tough because you can get really busy. I can start getting into more creative things like projects. In terms of healthy habits, I want to drink less but I’ve had bad insomnia so drinking helps. That’s probably one of the only reasons I do it so much to help me sleep. I’ve picked up a lot more healthy habits, like being more health-conscious. Compared to before quarantine, I was not being healthy. That’s not the life I want to live through.

Alcoholism and addiction is a thing in my gene pool. Everyone in my family is super heavyweight or they’re addicted to some substance. I don’t want alcohol or drugs to be an addiction for me. I want to go step-by-step. Nowadays, I don’t smoke cigarettes as much. I can’t even imagine smoking a pack a day anymore because it makes me feel gross now. I don’t want to get addicted and I think I recognize that that’s a problem which is the first step. The next step is what are you going to do about it such as programs.

If the pandemic didn’t happen would you consider programs to help?

It’s definitely something I would consider.

Thank you Bruce for opening up to me. I felt honored especially since you mentioned you don't necessarily open up to people as much in a more in-depth conversation about your life. Please feel free to reach out to me if you ever feel like low because you know I'm here to listen and send you love anywhere you go.

I appreciate you for reading his story and if you ever feel low please reach out for help whether that't venting to a friend or professional help as well. Don't be afraid to. You are worthy of life and worthy of love remember that.

Cheers to focusing on our mental health and teaching our future kids to love the way we want to be loved!

From one lost boy to another.

With love,

Another Lost Boy