The internet, man. It's just a funny place. Sometimes it's literally funny, with quips and comics delighting the masses and sometimes it's that different kind of funny, the kind you never see coming that can produce the kinds of life-altering changes you never knew you always needed. For me, the internet has provided plenty of both.
It was a couple years back here when I was a regular commenter and predominantly game threader in the early days of MHH, making random internet friends and just chatting about life as much as anything else. MHH helped me reconnect to a particular frozen sport that I had lost touch with after my dad had died back in 2003. My fiance at the time didn't understand my need to watch sports and talk about them on the internet with "strangers". Funny how quickly things changed and how it still feels like a million years ago.
When I moved back to Denver in the summer of 2009 from my previous domain just outside of Houston, Texas it was largely because of a need to kick start my life in a dramatic way and I wanted to be here in this city I love with people who loved the same things as me. I wanted to be closer to MHHers. I got to Denver and realized "lol, life is still hard bro" and the reality of a new city with no job, no friends, and no real prospects sent me spiraling into the depression I had become so familiar with during my time in Texas.
After a few months, something weird happened. I made some friends on MHH, got realllllly brave, and ended up going to a big gathering of MHHers for a specific event downtown involving certain rivalries and shit. I ended up hanging out with some awesome people and...kind of had an amazing time. Here's the link to the recap with some pictures if you're interested in a piece of MHH history. The one at the bottom was the most important one to me. You know, the one with Cheryl and me being all awesome and drunk and shit. Yeahhhh. I had found myself quite the kindred spirit that night.
Cheryl and I became pretty good friends after that, culminating in me taking a last minute trip to California to visit her and hang out and go to specific events on back-to-back days that I occasionally refer to as the SoCal Swing in my weekly Northwest Check columns. Turns out, Cheryl and I had a deeper understanding of each other than we initially knew. While in California, we had ourselves one of those "I'm gonna remember thisfor the rest of my life" as we walked around on the Santa Monica pier and talked about life, our painful histories with mental illness, and the bad ass guy Jamaican guy banging on a drum that I couldn't wait to give (Cheryl's) money to.
A few months later, Cheryl herself made the move back to Denver and after a couple of excruciating months ended up in the same apartment complex in some digs across the street from me (btw, Cheryl, there are some goofy folk living there now who watch Mexican soaps frequently...if only they knew...) and suddenly I had myself a partner in crime.
I had been diagnosed a manic depressive when I was 17 and, after the first year, completely refused any and all medications for it. I dealt with the depression on my own because I was stubborn and had this gamer mentality of "Hard mode is the only mode". Also, have you ever tried opening up to insanely spoiled rich kid teenagers about mental illness and the crippling effects it has? Well, I did. I picked silent self-punishment over ever trying to open up again because it was just a colossal waste of time. The ups and downs of the teenage years made even more insane by the constant aura of tragedy that shrouded my life all added up to make the whole "dealing with being bipolar" pretty much impossible. I insulated. I stopped living my life. I hid in games, books, the internet, music, ANYTHING that wasn't related to my real, everyday life or the problems I had getting out of bed everyday. I'll never understand why I got brave and showed up at the "MHH Madness" that night. I thank any and all deities that may exist that I did.
I never imagined the one thing I feared most, human contact, would be the thing that got my ass in gear and helped pull me from the depths of the despair that had so consistently plagued my life. It honestly never occurred to me that finding someone of similar mind would help ease the pain of being thought of as "crazy" and dismissed by most people who found out I was bipolar. I figured we would agree to be friends and then never see each other because leaving home sucks because pants and sunlight and overstimulation of the senses and all that shit just screams "Yo, stay home where it's quiet, you're alone, and completely safe". Welp.
It's funny how one decision can lead to so many good things. The friendship Cheryl and I have shared over the last couple of years has helped completely change my life because we were able to confide in each other and push each other to new heights (her doing a lot more pushing than me...I'm a pacifist). She pushed me to believe in myself, believe I was a quality human being worth spending time on this Earth, helped crush the suicidal thoughts that have stalked me for years. She was there through all my highs (uhh...) and lows (getting fired for the first time, rebuilding the heart after the fiance and I parted ways less than amicably, death, etcetc). Having someone who gets it just changes you.
A little over two months ago, I got back on a medication program and finally got myself back into regular therapy sessions. I finally decided I was in a healthy enough place where I could ask for help from a stranger and trust I could handle the outcome. I got onto a medication, worked my way through the doses, and am enjoying a bi-monthly therapy program that I believe in and helps me immensely. I'm in a better, healthier place now than ever before in my life and I have the amazingly supportive friends, Cheryl obviously included, who never abandoned me despite all the darkness I dragged them through to thank. All of you guys have helped make it worth it.
I never intended to write a piece today. I had no idea what Cheryl was posting or going to run with in her time slot that we had all scheduled and setup and when I got home from work I was all ready for the sleeps when I saw a picture of this amazing solar flare (in case you were curious) and felt like sharing. I saw Cheryl on, linked her to it, we talked about how bad ass it was, then transitioned into more natural conversation. She told me what her non-hockey piece was about and I mentioned in how cool it would be if I posted something about my own struggles with bipolar disorder over the years because of how intricate a role the disease has played in our friendship and how having a person to lean on has really made the disease much easier to cope with. She jumped on it and told me there was still plenty of time. Always with the pushing.
The internet, man. It's a funny place. If you're in need of the kind of funny I was, please never hesitate to reach out and get help. None of us should ever have to do this alone. <3