Fifteen Years Ago, I Wanted To Die

It’s a cool and overcast February afternoon as I turn my car into the parking lot of Green Oaks Hospital.

Fifteen years ago, my brothers executed the same turn with me, an unwilling passenger in the back seat.

Today is a happy occasion. I am sitting for an interview about mental health and my journey to long term recovery.

Fifteen years ago, I was in crisis. My brothers dragged me out of my bedroom past a .45 automatic on my nightstand and a granite dresser top littered with Xanax pills and cocaine residue. I did not want to leave that room. I did not want to see the next morning. I wanted to die.

The drizzle has started before I can exit my car. I’m glad I brought my black jacket because we are taking outside photos.

Fifteen years ago, it was warm and sunny.  Bad things happen on beautiful days.

I walk through the front doors and take a seat on the bench, just inside the entrance. I catch eyes with the nurse inside the reception glass. There are several people in the waiting room. I wonder what is going on in their lives.

Fifteen years ago, the nurse behind the glass was the enemy. My brothers were the enemy. I wanted to die.

A nice gentleman, sitting across from me, smiles says hello. I look at him and smile back. Fifteen years ago, I don’t look up from the floor. I am ashamed. I am scared. I want to die.

The photographer and interviewer arrive. We walk through a secured area into the heart of the facility. There are many doors to many rooms. I wonder if one of those rooms is where I sat with the psychiatrist, nurse, and family. They were all trying to help me. I wanted to die.

We take photos in a beautiful, green, park-like area behind the facility. It is strangely surreal. I don’t notice the cold.

Fifteen years ago, all I saw only concrete and darkness. I wanted to die.

We have a wonderful interview. I break down relating the role of my brothers and late father in saving my life and the bond we share today. I pause the interview to compose myself.

Fifteen years ago, my only thought was that I  am dark stain on the Cuban name, deserving to be wiped spotless from the earth, with no further mention. I wanted to die.

The interview ends. We stroll back out through the locked entrance into the lobby. The same pleasant man says hello. He has an infectious smile in an area where there is so much pain. I remind myself to smile more.

Fifteen years ago, I could not remember the last time I smiled. I could not remember a day I had not cried. I wanted to die.

The rain is coming down in buckets. I run to my car. I pull out into the street and drive towards home. I watch the building get smaller in the rear-view mirror. It’s now paradox. So much pain but a symbol of my future. Good things do happen on rainy days.  I am glad to be alive.

Brian Cuban (@bcuban) is The Addicted Lawyer. Brian is the author of the Amazon best-selling book, The Addicted Lawyer: Tales Of The Bar, Booze, Blow & Redemption (affiliate link). A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, he somehow made it through as an alcoholic then added cocaine to his résumé as a practicing attorney. He went into recovery on April 8, 2007. He left the practice of law and now writes and speaks on recovery topics, not only for the legal profession but on recovery in general. He can be reached at