Five Years Later
T/W - Suicide, mental illness.
Five years ago today, I took the risk of my life. I quit a well-paying, union job with full-benefits to pursue a career in acting. I gave it five years. I told myself, "In five years, I'll be 37. If I don't make any progress by then, I'll figure something else out."
Well, I'm here. How do I put these last five years into a few paragraphs? It should be noted that Uber, the pandemic, and a burst pipe at my told stomping grounds that shut the place down well-beyond Covid, completely destroying the money I would have continued to have made as a doorman. So, there's a dodged bullet there.
I didn't make a list of things that would have nullified my switching to "something else" at this milestone. Based on what I've achieved in this time - and I really don't feel like I have to list those things, I've made a big-enough spectacle - I think it would be foolish for me to say something like, "well, I don't make my entire living as an actor, so I guess I should pack it up and get a Master's Degree, or see if I can find another doorman job somewhere, or end my life."
Whoa. Fuck. That last one. Yeah, let's rewind:
On the anniversary of year three, that's where I was at. When you have a suicidal episode, at least in my experience, it's really hard to come up on the anniversary of said episode without deep reflection. In my first couple of go-rounds of celebrating another year of pursuing my dream, I feasted on the notion of writing a grandiose, made-for-the-internet post about how well I'm doing, the TV shows I've been on, and the audacity I had to say fuck you to a job that was eating me alive.
The past three have been a different story.
My suicidal episode was on the back-end of September of 2019. Things started to get really bad for me around that time - the 3rd anniversary of a day that I will cherish forever. I anticipated feeling great, like I was steadfast on the path. On paper, that was the case. I was on a TV show for three weeks that summer, in a beautiful relationship with the woman of my dreams, financially stable... but I was depressed. Severely depressed. I didn't know why or how or what. I just… was. The anniversary didn't help. It sent me into a spiral of, "what the fuck am I doing, why the fuck am I doing, why do I still feel this way… it must not be worth it. I'm still as sad as I was when I was carrying bags."
If you've read the essay I've written about that time, you know what happened from there (if you don't, read it here.) I got help and turned my life around, even though I didn't realize it needed a turning. Funny how that works.
Now, the anniversary of quitting my job and nearly quitting my life are synonymous. I'm not mad about it. It is what it is. And I'll come clean now - as much as I had put a happy face on those first two anniversaries, I was scared SHITLESS, broke with no health insurance, and questioning my life-changing decision nearly every day.
But I was surrounded by artists. I flushed out a lot of toxic relationships. I wasn't in control of my destiny, by any means (because who the fuck really is), but I WAS in control of how I chose to spend my days (until, you know, depression!)
Alright. So… five years later. What can I say? Or, rather, what do I know?
- I've been a working actor.
- I've been a teacher, a mentor, and a leader to many actors and friends.
- I'm building a life with an incredible partner. We have two cats. One of whom is Fucko. He's a cool dude, an asshole, and one of my best friends. The other is… Luna.
- Oh my God, I've been a cat person this whole time.
- I'm overweight, but I'm still booking work.
- I live with bipolar 2, depression, and anxiety.
- I'm in the throws of a depressive episode but I'm in touch with the professionals in my life to manage it.
- Money will always be a source of stress.
- If I didn't leave my doorman job, the issues I didn't address within me would have manifested into something that I don't even want to think about.
- Ok, that's a lie. I think about it all the time. The truth is, I would have gotten violent with someone. Or someone would have gotten violent with me. I was that angry and toxic. It was so bad that ten minutes after I gave my notice, the GM called me into his office and said "I'll give you three weeks pay if you leave tomorrow." (Why didn't I just get fired, you ask? Because I was a union delegate, which in the hotel industry made me pretty-much untouchable. In other words, a terrible position of power for someone as volatile as I was.)
And, most importantly....
- I'm doing the best I can.
- I'm a mother-fucking artist.
- After five years, I've decided to keep going.