I have a lot to be grateful for this year: everyone in my family is healthy, I have a loving, devoted, brilliant, stunning wife, I get to make food clothes for a living, and I made it through one of the most challenging times in my life this year.
For much of 2021, I was experiencing mania or hypomania resulting from bipolar disorder. This heightened state was exacerbated by the fact that I was developing an addiction to ketamine that quickly got out of hand. While those closest to me knew I was doing it, no one knew its level. I had experienced a few manic episodes earlier in life, but never to this extent. By the beginning of 2022, I often slept 3 or 4 hours a night, sometimes not at all, and even experienced full-blown psychosis for a couple of short spells. Shit got real quick, and I put everyone around me through hell I wouldn't wish on even my worst enemies. I have grappled with substance abuse for close to 25 years, and as you may know, I haven't had a drink in almost four years because it was ruining my life, and I felt like it would someday cost me everything or even kill me. And just like years ago, with my drinking, the closest people to me were at a loss on how to help me, and things were getting rapidly worse. They made the difficult decision to have me committed after I returned from a trip to Austin, where I made some (to put it lightly) alarming calls to them and displayed erratic behavior that put me in danger. I wrote some details here last night but have edited them out today. Partly, I'm not ready to share, and partly I have to save something for my memoir, ya know?! I haven't put much of this down on paper before, so I'm processing a bit as I go, so excuse me if this is a bit disjointed.
After a couple of days of hiding out from my family in hotel rooms, I was picked up by two police officers from a psychiatrist appointment and told that I needed to go with them to the ER to be checked out. Even though I agreed to go without a struggle and was not under arrest, they cuffed me and then wouldn't uncuff me even when I was sitting calmly in a hospital bed. I was going through severe back pain then, and the cuffs and position they had me in were painful. I asked again to be uncuffed, growing increasingly restless. The next thing I knew, I was being held down by a nurse at the hospital, given a shot, and I woke up 8 hours later in a psych ward surrounded by primarily people battling schizophrenia and other grave mental health disorders.
I couldn't (and can't) believe places like this still exist. They offered no genuine assistance to patients there, and most were treated as subhuman. There was no therapy, no exercise, no books, nothing that resembled actual care. There was human shit smudged on the wall of my room from a previous inhabitant, right next to a marker-drawn swastika. I stabilized within 24 hours or so of being there and found myself in the unique position of being the sanest person in a mental hospital, staff included. Patients met with the psychiatrist in the hallway, where everyone else on the floor could hear the entire session. I could go on and on about how terrible this hospital was, and if I can find a lawyer or a journalist to help me take down this awful for-profit (of course) $1100/day facility, I will do so. No one deserves to be treated the way they treat their patients. But that's not the point of this story, at least not at this time. And if we're looking for silver linings, which at this point in life, we fucking should be, I was able to sober up and get to a stable mental state at that shithole. I'm thankful for that.
I spent an entire week in the hospital, with no access to the internet and 5-10 minutes of phone time a day. But Brooke, MR EATWELL's COO, held down the company and dealt with my family (not an easy task) while I was gone. Like a boss. Thank you, Brooke.
I began re-building trust with Chera while I was in there, knowing that we had a long way to go once I got out to get back to a place where marriage seemed like a good idea again (spoiler alert: we got there, and I'm so fucking thankful to have her by my side as my wife). My younger brother, who is also my best friend, eventually allowed me to earn back his trust and vice versa. I spent the next couple of months in a pretty serious funk. You don't spend a year going up up up without a severe comedown, and there were times when I thought I would never be the same. I struggled to find the motivation to continue running this business, and creativity was nowhere to be found. But I found a doctor that specialized in what I was going through and some non-traditional methods of therapy, and I began doing the work. Chera and I found a couples counselor we could see when we needed an unbiased third party to help us work through the issues that arise when something significant like that happens in a relationship. And I pushed through. We pushed through.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that I didn't know if the business would survive because we were sitting on a lot of inventory, and cash flow was nearly non-existent. The other part of that equation is that I made some rash and expensive business decisions while I was manic and could not push through the depression at times this year to do what I needed to do professionally. But the sale we ran last week ended up being massive for us, and we're in a better spot now than I thought we would be. There's still plenty of work to do to get to a place where I feel comfortable, but we're on the right track, and hopefully, after this coming weekend, we'll be in an even better position.
I know many companies have already started their Black Friday sales and encourage people to shop from now until next week. But the truth is that I believe that Thanksgiving should be a time when a. You get to spend quality time with your family and friends and not scour the internet for deals on shit you want before it sells out, and b. Brooke and I should be able to do the same. There aren't many of us that work here, and we always want to be available during a big sale to answer your customer service questions.
So, we'll be closed on Thanksgiving for the second year in a row. The site will go dark early Thursday morning until midnight ET when our biggest sale of the year will start. Everything will be 25% off. There are no catches, no exclusions, just a big old discount on all the stuff we have in stock. We'll send out an e-mail on Friday morning to remind you, but if you are still reading this, you probably have been down with this brand for a while, so I'll tell you that if you're still awake at midnight, you should hit the site and grab what you want because it could be gone by the time you wake up in the morning.
I'm not sure why I am sharing this story with you, a relative stranger (or you might be someone who knows me personally and maybe didn't know that this had happened. Hit me up, and we can talk about it if you want.) When I started writing this, it was not my intention to do so; I just wanted to say that I'm thankful for my family (both the ones I was born with and the one I have chosen, my friends, and you. And, of course, Fred. But I think it's important to know that even people that seem to have their shit together might also be going through full-blown mental health crises and spending 150 hours in a Girl Interrupted-style facility. So many of us suffer in silence because, as a culture, we have stigmatized mental health issues. But we don't have to. Everyone's got their shit, ya know? And it's easier to deal with that shit when you know you're not alone.
Appreciate your time and you. You are a rockstar, and I always say this, but without you, there would be no MR EATWELL.
If you think I can make your life even a little bit better, please do not hesitate to reach out to email@example.com; I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the people who stood by me during my most challenging days, so I'm here for you.
P.S. Ketamine can be a LIFE-CHANGING drug, in a controlled medical setting. It is best used in moderation, to be sure (find a good doctor with expertise!); it is unmatched in its ability to help you see things from another perspective and work through issues. It is beneficial for depression, addiction, and PTSD, to name a few. If you have any questions about this, I'm happy to talk to you and point you in the right direction. Okay, that's it for real. Have a great Thanksgiving; you're amazing.