So 2019 is finally dead, and I assume if such a thing were decided by popular vote, the past year would probably be spending eternity in year hell.
I will admit that, for me, this past year hasn't been too bad. I released a second book, got a chance to meet and work with Mr. CreepyPasta on two audiobooks, stretched the boundaries of my comfort zone, and made a lot of great new friends. I even gained enough weight this year to upgrade from "hideously scrawny" to "slightly underweight," which is something I never thought I'd see.
In fact, upon reflection, I'd say that the year 2019 was the best of my life. It's been an incredible experience getting this far, and I feel like it's about time I talk about something serious and awkward, so brace yourselves.
I've heard from a lot of people that my stories have helped them through a rough patches, and that's the best and most unexpected compliment I can ever hope to receive. I never thought I'd be in a position to help people who were struggling with complex emotional issues, especially when I'm in a constant state of juggling my own, but there are a few things I want everyone reading this to know going into the new year:
It's totally okay to not be okay.
I suspect that there might be something about the horror and creepypasta community that appeals to those of us who have our own demons. Admittedly, my research is anecdotal, but I feel confident saying that the ratio of non-neurotypical to neurotypical fans skews higher in horror.
Years ago, I was nearly suffocating under the weight of depression. For months, I was convinced that it would never get better. I tried therapy and medication. I also tried drinking, a lot. I was certain that I would never recover, and life would never be okay again. I was struggling to get from one day to the next. Hours felt like marathons. And my will to live was threadbare at best.
Despite what your brain might be telling you, life is never hopeless.
I can confidently say now that I was wrong. I was so so wrong. If I could go back in time and talk to younger Jack, I would tell him how badly his poor brain had assessed the severity of the situation. Don't ever think that you know what the future holds, because that might just be the depression talking, and depression is a terrible forecaster. Also, depression is treatable.
Working in this industry, I get asked from time to time what scares me the most. Truthfully, nothing I can imagine is more terrifying than the realization of how close I came to not being here today. I almost left on the absolute worst possible note... like giving up on Spiderman the moment Toby started emo dancing, with no idea how much better life would be under Tom Holland's capable watch. (Is that a terrible metaphor? Yes, but can any of you think of a better example of mental health in free fall than this?)
It's totally cool to ask for help.
If you only get one thing out of this weird little rant, I hope it's this: There's nothing wrong with reaching out for help.
I know my stories tend to poke fun at psychiatrists, but I do owe a great debt to some very patient friends and therapists. I will always recommend seeking professional help, because most of the time, it actually works.
In all seriousness, sometimes an attack can come on all at once, and when you're in the middle of it, it's hard to look at things objectively and rationally. That's why I recommend that everyone reading this who has ever had even the slightest brush with depression, go ahead and save this number to your cell phone so that you have it at the ready in case you ever need it:
That's the number for the national suicide prevention lifeline. Volunteers are available 24/7, and it's toll free.
Or, if you're like me and not all that big into talking, you can text "HOME" to 741741 for free crisis support.
(For Canada, text "HOME" to 686868)
(For the United Kingdom, text "HOME" to 85258)
No, really, go ahead and save these numbers. It's not weird. You may want to give them to someone you know one day, and pulling it up on your phone sure would be smoother than having to look it up.
Okay, that's my one serious post for the year. Thank you for getting through it with me. Here's a video of a baby bat licking someone's hand. Here's a video of Fiona, the baby hippo. Here's a blatant, unapologetic Rick Roll.
That's one Monday down and 51 to go. Let's make 2020 super awesome and weird. Love you all.