December 21, 2016.
About a month prior, I had first attempted to start an anti-depressant, the first time in three years that I’d be on one. It didn’t go too well. I spent all day in bed while the room swam around me. But I had a couple weeks off for Christmas, and it was time to start again.
I picked up books from the library, expecting that I wouldn’t feel very well at first. One book, I had seen several times at the library, but I kept passing it by. That time, I picked it up.
On December 20, I took the first dose of the new medication, and I went to bed. The next morning, I woke up, slightly dizzy and mostly unable to concentrate on anything.
As I laid on the couch, I picked up that book I had kept passing by. For the first time that day, I was able to focus. I quickly became entranced by the story, reading until the side effects of the medication got too much.
That book was Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig.
In that book, Flynn’s ex-girlfriend January disappears, and Flynn becomes involved the search for her while having to face the truth of who he really is. A thriller doesn’t seem like a life-changing book. However, that moment led to far greater things.
Over the past three years, the author of that book has become a friend.
Over the past three years, he has encouraged me to always do what’s best for me. The first time that I met him, he had actually offered to send me a signed bookplate in case the idea of the signing became too overwhelming for me to follow through in going. On the day of that signing, as he signed my book, he asked me how I was holding up.
He’s encouraged me to follow my dream of writing, and he’s 80% of the reason why I started writing those first words on the page in June 2018. As of date, I have three completed manuscripts, and while publishing those may never happen, I am pursuing that dream. He’s encouraged me without ever having read my writing, and he regularly reminds me that as long as I’m alive, this dream doesn’t have an expiration date.
He’s the first person that I came out to, and he’s the first person I told after I came out to my mom. In fact, Caleb’s book White Rabbit was the reason why I was able to finally sleep well at night again because it let me know that it was okay to not have a label. And while I finally did land on a label, I wouldn’t have gotten there otherwise.
He’s the supplier of many many many book recommendations. He regularly hypes up works by other authors, and I have lost track of how many books I’ve read because of this. (It’s legit over 30.)
He’s also one of the only people that allows me to regularly be honest about where my mental health is at. (Disclaimer: we do have a friendship now, and Caleb invited me to be honest with him about this stuff.) He’s read many ranting messages from me. and he’s read some pretty depressing ones too. But he hasn’t given up on me, and that’s incredible.
I don’t know who I’d be right now if I hadn’t picked up that book on that day. I don’t know that I would have found the courage to start writing. I wouldn’t have had the courage to come out to my mom. (I’m still shocked that I did.)
But I don’t need to wonder. Instead, I am incredibly grateful.
One moment can change eventually change everything.
Thank you, Caleb Roehrig.