There’s a canvas in my family room that reads “You deserve to be happy,” written out by Caleb Roehrig. I see it every single day, and I remind myself that I do deserve good things in my life.
2018 has been one of the hardest years of my life. While I remain on Lexapro, my medication hasn’t been fully working in quite some time, and I find myself unable to get in to see a doctor for a med change. What this has meant is that my depression levels are significantly higher, and my anxiety levels are consistently higher on a daily basis. Because self-injury was a way that I used to use to cope with these, I’ve had to fight off relapses into self-injury many days this year. While I’ve been very fortunate that my Lexapro still works to keep suicidal thoughts away, I’ve felt like I’ve been enduring life rather than enjoying life this year.
But when I think back to 2018, I will remember this year for a few reasons besides the mental health difficulties. This is the year that I started writing. This is the year that Caleb Roehrig made significantly better.
I first read Caleb Roehrig’s Last Seen Leaving in December 2016, oddly enough, in the days right after I started Lexapro. I was initially sick with side effects, but his book was so good that I wanted to keep reading through waves of nausea and bad headaches.
I later met Caleb in October 2017. While my day-to-day anxiety was still being completely controlled by Lexapro at the time, my anxiety around special events like book signings was extreme. I wanted to meet Caleb, but my anxiety wanted to prevent it. Caleb’s interactions with me on Twitter were the reason why I decided to get the book signing ticket to go. He even offered to send me a signed bookplate if my anxiety proved to be too much to go. (Side note: Kara Thomas actually did this when my anxiety prevented me from going to her book signing, and it was the sweetest thing.)
At the event, Caleb figured out who I was from my Twitter picture, and I somehow even managed to ask a question because if you asked a question, you got an ARC of Caleb’s White Rabbit. In the signing line, Caleb asked me how I was holding up, and he told me as well that he was so glad that I got an ARC.
Fast forward to April 2018. I attended the launch of White Rabbit. Something had happened earlier in April that made me feel like I was a burden to everybody, and I was feeling especially low and especially anxious about this event. However, I was rather excited to see Caleb again which made the event worth it.
But what happened next isn’t all that explainable. Caleb and I started interacting on Twitter a lot. I’ll blame my obsessive thoughts on why I started tweeting him a lot, but to my surprise, Caleb frequently started interacting back.
Over the past seven months, Caleb has “seen” me at my lowest and highest points in my interactions with him, and somehow, he always seems to know what to say. He reached out in June too after there were a high number of high profile deaths by suicide to see how I was doing which was an incredible moment.
For me, having had someone in my life that I was close to call me a burden and tell me that’s why everyone in my life leaves me, even after that person knew about a person in my own life dying by suicide and my involvement in trying to find him after finding the suicide note, I was distrustful of most people by this point.
That made Caleb reaching out even more meaningful because it gave me a direct contrast and reassured me that there are still good people out there and out there in my life.
Caleb has also been a huge champion of me writing. He’s been very encouraging as I drafted my first draft and then revised it. He’s encouraging now as I write a new project (which I should be working on now instead of this post, but oh well).
Caleb didn’t have to do any of this. But he chose to do so, and that’s the primary reason why even though I am rather depressed right now, I keep enduring rather than finally giving into the dark and just staying in bed (or on my couch) all day everyday.
So here’s to some gratitude in 2018.