Living On The Edge Of Darkness

Andrew Koenig is dead. I did not know him.  I knew of his father.  I am a huge Trekkie and could tell you the plot of every episode of the original Star Trek series.  Andrew’s father of course played Ensign Pavel Chekov in the original Star Trek. Andrew was  best known as Richard “Boner” Stabbone on ABC’s sitcom Growing Pains

I did not know Andrew but I knew his pain.  As I followed the story of his disappearance and learned about his  battle with  depression and recent slide into the darkest finality of the suicide abyss, I was reminded of just how all so fast it happens.   I read so many things that rang up painful memories of my past.  My slide into the same bottomless pit of night.

This  slide into darkness has its own unique components for different people. Some are luckier than others in the support they get or their ability to reach out for that support.   I was very lucky.  I had everyone who loved me living in my city and within a few miles of me.  They were all in my life and knew my routines. That is what saved me. If I did not have that I would be dead.

I do not remember placing the Italian 45-caliber automatic pistol that my best friend had given me for a gift on my nightstand. I do not remember emailing him for bullets.  I do not remember emailing others of my desire to end my life. I realize now that it was my way of reaching out for help.  My only memory of those terrible few days on the edge 6 years ago was being  wakened out  of a Xanax stupor by people who cared for me. It happens that easy.   It was all so easy to slide in the fog from a Xanax coma to a 45 cal bullet. It did not happen.  People loved me, cared and intervened.

I have battled depression for much all of my adult life.I really could not tell you how long because you have to realize it’s an issue to start the clock.   It has had its ups and downs.  Medication works wonders. Talking to professionals helps. Having a family that loves me, recognized something was wrong and was willing to intervene is something that many who suffer do not have. I am very lucky.

There however was one dark period that the low was so low and the fog of depression was so great that I only have vague memories of literally living on the edge of permanent darkness.

I have thought about telling this story before. I have always backed off because of self-interest.  I did not want to be perceived as spent.  I did not want to be stereotyped, stigmatized or slandered. I did not want sympathy.   In the end, it is what it is.  If someone can take the message from this that there is hope and recovery from the edge of darkness to happiness and accomplishment in life. If someone will see that reaching out even when you do not want to has the greatest up side at all.  If one person gets that I will take all the  S’s people can throw at me.

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17 Responses

  1. Brian, I'm sorry to hear that you went through that – there's one 'S' for you: sympathy. Actually more like empathy. I went through similar episodes 3 or 4 times until finally I figured out what was wrong. It's so true that having nearby family and others who love and care about you. I also know it's so terribly hard to reach out when you're in that black hole of desperation. My 'cure' came with the realization that I'm gay after being married for 19 yrs with 6 children.

  2. I am proud of you, Brian. I am positive you will help a few through this and I am glad you did not back off. Stay strong!

  3. just to read how you survived and i do mean survived is wonderful. i know what depression is and about the hole of which you spoke. it can take over your whole life. i think that this will be an inspiration to all those who read it and suffer from depression. one of the best things to do is talk about your depressiion try not to stay in that hole. i also know that this must have been a very difficult thing to do. i am very honored to know you and to be related. i wish you continued well being.
    your cousin sharon

  4. Brian,
    Thanks for being so open and transparent. I've been in that darkness myself. I remember one particular period of time in college when it was so bleak, that I didn't see how I could go on. I've never taken meds but I know now they would have helped. And, I know have a child who has the same struggles. It's an illness. Like diabetes or asthma. We don't look down on people who take meds for those conditions. I don't know why we do for those who struggle with depression. I'm glad your were surrounded with love and I'm glad you're here to keep making a valuable contribution. God's best to you.

  5. Thank you for sharing this. We lost my cousin Nathan two years ago. I almost lost one of my closest friends yesterday morning and failed to recogize the signs. I’m going to be berating myself for a long time but am thankful he did something that people will talking about for a long time. He posted his own eulogy on Facebook. I thank you for sharing this and I’m that people sprang to action for both you and my friend.

  6. Thank you Brian for your beautiful witness to something that is so painful. paralyzing and beyond debilitating. I have and still battle depression also and it is such a maze of emotional gridlock that it is always miraculous when someone is able to survive it and grow from it. So many times my prayers for help seem to fall on God's deaf ears and then I changed my prayers to, "If I can't be healed overnight, please at least show me the way and the path to healing and grant me the hope to struggle on."
    Thank you again for bringing some light and hope by showing that we are all human beings with strengths and weaknesses and that we all have the ability to rise above our darkest times.

  7. Great comments, I've struggled with the same things for years and medication and professional help has worked wonders for me as well. However, I hate the stigma attached. I still have people telling me that I don't need medication. Really? Have you been there? I wouldn't be alive without medication and so what I hear is that you'd rather I be dead. Gee thanks.

    Again, thank you for being strong enough to talk about this.

    1. Ugh, I'm right there with you. I'm tired of other people acting like they know what's best or telling me to "well, stop being sad." If I could shut that part of my brain off without drugs or (expensive) weekly meetings, trust me – I would. Thanks for your comment and Brian – thank you for posting. I lost a close friend to depression in November; while I understood her pain, it strengthened my resolve to not choose that way out. Here's hoping that our collective openness will encourage others to open themselves to getting help.

  8. Thanks for sharing your struggles and congrat on continuing your battle. Friends and family do make the difference. I've been married for about 10 years and my wife suffers from severe depression, currently going through another bad spell now, so I can relate as an outsider at least. It's a difficult illness to combat and even as a husband and trying to be supporting I find myself at wits end struggling with the emotional toll it takes on the family. As a supporter, the only thing I can offer one suffering from it, is remember that it can take a toll on those around you, that's not to say they don't care, but ultimately when you have lapses it can be difficult for the supporters to muster the same support time and time again, especially since lapses tend to need more then the last one at times and the illness can effectively negate support.

    Good luck in your continuing battle with it.

  9. Dear Mr. Cuban,

    Thank you for sharing your painful story and fight to overcome depression. Only a true hero would share their painful fight with depresson and offer enormous hope to others suffering with depression. One can only begin to imagine the lives that will be transformed and saved because of your transparency. People often read about true heroes who save others from danger, but your story may be the vessel that saves countless lives of those suffering with depresson. May everyday be a true blessing to you.

  10. Here is an “S” for you, STRENGTH AND STRONG. You deserve an ovation for your courageous act to come out like that. I’m sure you will help many. I know it’s tough to talk about as its hard for me. Xanax is good but is also the weapon beware people. I hope our higher anarchy recognize this epidemic and truly try to find a solution. Keep moving forward Brian, perseverance is something to be proud of.

  11. wow..Thanks for sharing your story with us. I admire your strength and courage to fight this disease. Depression runs in my family and my own mom tried to end her life several years ago. It opened our eyes to the feelings of depression and how it can swallow you up in a very short time. I'm glad my doctor gives me the list of screening questions every year. If my answers change, then I know it's time for the meds. Everyone should ask those questions of themselves before depression sneeks up on them too. Stay strong my friend…thanks again..

  12. Wow! I have to applaude you for having the courage to speak out. I’m sure there’s a million others hiding and holding back. Hope this reaches and inspires them. As Becca mentioned, perserverance Brian!
    All the Best

  13. Thank you for being strong enough to share such a personal story. I have alot of darkness in my life right now . My whole family lives in florida and I live in jersey but reading your story gives me hope that things can change

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