Growing up, life was pretty easy for me.
Both my parents worked full-time jobs that paid well, while my sister and I went to a school in a well-off the neighbourhood. She excelled in her grades while I did in sports.
I excelled so much that my dad would end up driving me to three different sports practices in one day. He tended to my needs while still working and doing what was required to keep food on our plates and the lights on.
The more I think about it, this dedication was a big reason why his death hit me so hard. The commitment he had towards giving me the best chance at my sporting career was unparallel.
I didn’t think much of it at that time.
However, as I saw him lying there on the hospital bed, as cancer took full control of his body and he started to mummify in front of my eyes…
My thoughts were on these times—the early years he spent so much of his time to help me become the man I am today.
The Final Months Of My Father’s Life
Three years before dad passed away, the doctor diagnosed him with Parkinson’s disease.
Over the next 24 months, I watched him slowly shut down. His muscles and nerve endings stopped listening to the actions his brain was asking them to do.
The last four months were the hardest to watch. His body was creeping towards a total shut down, as we found out he had a more intense subset of Parkinson’s called Lewy body dementia—plus, a cancerous ball had formed in his urinary tract.
He finally succumbed to the unabated attack on his system.
And just like that, my male role model…
My longest friend…
Was gone forever.
Depression And Loss Of All Desire I Once Had
While Dad was alive, I surprised myself as I systematically helped with his new daily struggles. I found a “matter of fact” way of dealing with the new way of life going on around me.
I compartmentalized my emotions when I was with him and my mother as we had weekend dinners together. I helped him out of his chair, cut his food, and at times explained to him the reason why things were as they were.
I had developed a mode of robotic compassion.
The days after he passed, the wall I had built up loosened then finally shattered. I was unable to address any action that had to do with his passing.
Whenever my mom mentioned his funeral, wanted to show me a picture of him in his youth, or had a card sent from a friend regaling the man they used to know, I would do a hard about-face and walk the other way.
It took me months to look at anything that had to do with him. And even then, I wouldn’t take it in thoroughly. It was three months after his obituary was in the local paper that I, for the first time, glanced over it.
The inability to face the reality of his passing was my way of hiding from the truth.
But I needed to accept the truth.
Running from the reality of it not only hurt me emotionally, whenever his passing came up in conversation, but it hurt my work and my way of living for fourteen months.My Journey Through Anxiety & Depression After Losing My Father by @tallpaulslife Click To Tweet
What My Day-To-Day Life Turned Into
I didn’t realize at the time, as I am sure many of you can relate, that my way of life dropped drastically and continuously as the days moved on.
My sleep became less of a way of recharging my body and mind, and more of an occurrence to give my joyless hours of being awake a break.
Food was now just a necessity to fuel my body. I had no care about what it was that I put into my mouth—just as long as it got me through the next few hours.
The clients I trained in the gym became the last thing I cared about, as I cancelled on them when I didn’t feel like going. I realized I had so little care about doing what was needed to keep working that I took a full four weeks off.
I did not know if I was going to go back.
There was no joy in my life, in any aspect.
I would just wake up because it was what society expected of me, and after that, I had no plans.
Every day was another attempt to survive another 12-hour day until I could lay in my bed in the dark again.
How I Created My Path Out Of The Darkness
I quickly realized that the first sixty minutes of my day set the tone for the next eight hours.
When I took the mornings slow and allowed myself to ease my brain into the world, I had a far greater chance of no anxiety or depression kicking in for more significant periods.
I set about looking up morning routines created by entrepreneurs who I found inspiring. If these people followed a specific method to keep them moving forward and inspired daily in growing their future, why couldn’t my depression be looked at in the same way?
I ended up creating my morning routine that, over three months, finally became something I could do with ease. And I saw substantial change in my anxiety and depression.
Over the next fourteen months, I followed my morning routine religiously (and still do, and will until the day I die ). I added in a daily exercise routine, started writing, and went to therapy every other week.
These all aided in my fight back to a better life. But something that I never planned on helping me arrived one day to my apartment.
Over a year after my dad died, my mom sent me a gift.
It was a present for my 34th birthday.
I unwrapped it, and a wave of emotion came over me. Not despair or hurt, but acceptance and, finally, a sense of peace.
I had finally accepted he was gone.
You never know what can help in times of grief, so keep searching. One day things will be alright again.
For more from Paul, check out his blogs at www.tallpaul.ca