Finally Removing all the Bricks

For those who have known me a long time, y’all know I tend to keep my feelings all bundled up and keep my highs and lows well hidden. I never wanted to be a burden to anyone, but I would always reach out whenever I saw someone might be going through a tough time. Everyone would come before my own self and my own happiness, and part of that made me content in life.

I had grown accustomed to building one hell of a wall around myself and what I was dealing with. I could get through life without letting those in on what struggles were manifesting deep within my soul. I didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer of any sorts, so I would wear my armor to keep me from getting hurt.

But deep down I was hurting. I was afraid. The depression would continue to grow and grow, but the armor still protected me from anyone truly knowing how sad I was inside. And by not talking about the issues at hand, it would fester and grow, so I would eat or do something else to sabotage myself. To allow layers and layers of fat to be a physical manifestation of the protective coat I would adorn.

This became my constant cycle. The battlefront that I would face day in and day out. The piles of bricks in front of me, keeping my already fragile and sad interior hidden from all, as that was the only way I knew how to cope with all this.

Then it happened. I hit rock bottom. I crashed so hard.

Around the time that this photo was taken, I didn’t have any fight left in me. The battles and the lies and the fake faces I put on when I was out and about… I couldn’t take it anymore. My head and my heart were so underwater I couldn’t breathe anymore. And when the inner critic spoke up one night, I wanted to end it all. And in normal Zac fashion, I had to go get my final meal of a pizza and some ice cream. While I was eating that final meal I decided to do a little Googling and to possibly find some inspiration, and thankfully I found it. And there was lots and lots of it out there. What I needed to read. What I needed to hear. And more importantly, what I needed to see.

Sure, I could have called any one of the countless friends and talked through everything, but there were too many bricks and layers that surrounded me. Instead, I found solace in countless strangers on the internet. I wasn’t alone. Many have come before me and learned to love themselves, to grow, and to live a truly happy life. The next morning I called my insurance and found out what sort of mental health coverage I had. I dug through local providers that would take my insurance and specialized in what has plagued me my whole life. And doing those steps was removing the first bricks in front of me.

Over the next couple months in my weekly sessions, more protective layers would be removed. Before a diagnosis was confirmed, I started opening up to some friends, which was removing more and more of the protective layers. Then removing the biggest layers of all was talking it out with some family members. As layers were pealed back, the fear would lessen. Happiness was starting to seep into my every day life that I hadn’t felt in over a decade.

I would vaguely talk about this and my struggles online in hopes that it may help others. And help others it did. The countless amount of calls, texts and PMs since the end of Summer has been wonderful. I could be an ear once again to those who were struggling, even if some were just an acquaintance online. The stories of rape, eating disorders, sexuality, depression, anxiety and so many other things. The friends who would say thank you for talking about ending the stigma of depression and other mental illnesses, all while asking how I was doing. Each of these conversations helped remove more and more of the protective layer that had piled upon my soul.

I’m now 81 days in on living a wonderful life. For those who follow along on the Gram, you can go back to the beginning and see how I never smiled, but now they come through so authentically. It’s no longer a facade. I truly am happy and loving life for the first time in so long. For those who don’t follow me there, maybe you’ve noticed it on Facebook. I know some of you have, as I’ve been told so many times “you look so happy,” “whatever you’re doing, keep it up,” among many other words of encouragement. For those that I’ve spilled the beans to I’ve been told some other things, but that’s saved for the post going live later on April 17th.

And now that the day is rapidly approaching… I’m scared. I’m happy to be putting this out there, though I truly am frightened. Not for what people will think or if anyone will even care, but because this is the final layer. The last piece that I can hide behind, and I’ve never been so truthful, honest and raw at any point in my life. Once this layer is removed anyone following along will see my soul for what it is. Every single flaw. All the pain and suffering. But all that past turmoil has made me who I am today, and who I’ll continue to be in the future.

I was recently asked by someone why I’m being so public with this, and it is because I must pay it forward. This post only exists because of some strangers on the internet putting their own heart and soul for all to see. Countless strangers that I’ll never cross paths with, though I did get to meet one recently and told them how much their videos have meant to me, and I want to be a voice in that choir. If I can help save one life, then this is all worth it. All the pain, all the suffering, all the battles within… Just know it does get better. And just like a roller coaster, there will still be ups and downs, but that smile WILL return, just like mine has.

And if you need someone to talk to, shoot me an email here, if you have my cell it is on 24/7, a message on FB, or on Twitter. Your secrets and struggles are safe with me. Don’t bottle it up like I did. The pressure will build and build until it feels like life isn’t worth living anymore, but it is. Every day is precious, and it would be a little more dull if you weren’t in it.

3 Comments

  1. Lisa
    Apr 14, 2017

    Damn, your genre is suspense! ;-) Who knew?? ;-) Love you so much. Can’t wait to see what’s behind the final curtain. It’s been really great to see you getting healthier and happier. Keep it up, my dear friend.

  2. So proud of you.

  3. Ofelia
    Apr 14, 2017

    You were always taking care of and mothering everyone at AT&T I’m glad now you are taking care of yourself. I am sorry for all the struggles you have been facing but I’m glad you have found away to push forward.

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