I was sitting in a coffee shop, wondering what to write a blog about and I heard a man screaming at the top of his lungs. RAGING. I thought, “Oh, another actor talking to his agent.” Then a couple rode by on bikes, and the man was yelling at the woman.
I’ll bet you thought what I did. Oh, they must be a couple.
How fucked up is that? If he’s spewing that much hate, they must be in love.
I don’t know if he suffers from depression, but my guess is he does, because while I didn’t yell like that out loud, I felt that way inside. Lots of screaming while driving alone. Imagined conversations. Imagined slights. Lots of thinking about me, and never about anybody else.
I always thought my wife was the problem. Turns out it was me. I was driven by fear and felt if she didn’t act the way I wanted, my fears would be realized. Sad but true.
I know this sounds cheesy, but I’m lucky to have found a woman as patient as my wife. She knew I had a good heart but needed help. She gently encouraged me to seek it and I eventually did.
But for years, I was as angry as that guy. The difference was, I mostly kept it in. I would let it out in cold, cutting comments. But really it was just pent-up rage from self-hatred and fear of everything.
Once in a while I would let it out. In fact one time I let it out on strangers. I must have loved them. I was stuck in traffic in downtown Chicago and a bunch of pedestrians were in my way, blocking my green light and I lost my shit. I was laying on the horn, screaming out the window, frothing at the mouth. Suddenly a guy right out of 1950 – fedora, briefcase, trenchcoat – poked his head into my window about four inches from my face and with a combination of sympathy and disgust, calmly said, “Son, get a hold of yourself.” It stunned me. I had been so lost in my anger, fear, self-pity and perceived victimization, I couldn’t see myself. But Ward Cleaver did.
I have a feeling that guy on the bike is just like I was.
Mr. Cleaver was a turning point. I thought about what he said. He got through to me because he was a complete stranger. Because he wasn’t family. Because I knew he had nothing to gain, he must be telling the truth. Sometimes we discount what those closest to us say because we filter it through our experience with them.
I got into therapy shortly after that and it’s been a long haul since then, but I think back to that day often. It was a turning point. Depression doesn’t always mean moping around feeling down. Sometimes it expresses itself as rage and fear.
I’m proud to say if those pedestrians did that again today, I would not react the same. I’d gently tap the horn, smile and if they didn’t move, plow through them. Then I’d back up and repeat until tasered. I’m kidding of course. But I would fantasize about it. I may be better, but I’m still not well.