“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” – J.K. Rowling
Shortly after I turned four, I had two major concussions within a week of each other. I was taken to the hospital as myself, and left as someone else. Gone was the sweet, happy and loving child. In his place was an angry, agitated and argumentative child.
My mom was baffled by the change, and mourned the loss of her sweet boy. What we didn’t know then was that my health woes didn’t stop when I returned from the hospital. Instead, they continued silently for 20 years, as undetected seizures.
Those seizures affected my moods drastically. I wasn’t able to handle myself or my emotions, and because of my inability to cope, I was certain I was crazy by the time I turned five.
Needless to say, my childhood was difficult. In first grade I had my first major seizure in school but no one knew what was happening — not even me. I was taken to the hospital, and after running a gamut of tests, the doctors found nothing and brushed it off.
After that I was blacklisted in school. No one wanted to hang out with me or talk to me. I became a loner, and it was at that point I started to think about ways to end my life — and I began trying.
Somehow, I survived my suicide attempts, but by the time I was in fourth grade I was in and out of therapy and had been prescribed various medications (which I had to stop taking due to the side effects which caused intense rage).
That same year I lost my aunt (who was also my Godmother and basically a second mom), one of my two friends died from falling down a hill, and my only other friend moved away. To my young self, I had lost everything that mattered.
By the time I was 13 I was drinking regularly. As a high school Freshman I started experimenting with different pills, which led to me trying acid. I became obsessed with the highs, and the escape they provided me with. Every time I used a substance, I was able to swallow all of my emotions and bury them deep inside of myself.
At 15-years-old I tried crack for the first time, and after that there was no going back. The high was unlike anything else I had ever experienced — it was euphoric, incredible and life-altering. I was hooked, and I cared about nothing else except for how I would get my next high.
The following three years were a haze. At 18 I tried to sober up, but that attempt only latest for a few days and then I spiraled back into my addiction. Two years later I tried again, and with the help of a good friend I managed to stay drug-free for a year.
But my sobriety came to a screeching halt when I ran into an old friend I used to get high with. He had cleaned up while in prison, and we tried to hang out again without the drugs. But, memories of our past lives together sucked us both back into our addictions. I used again for another two months straight before I snapped back to reality and had an ah-ha moment — I realized if I really wanted to stay clean, then I’d have to cut off EVERYONE who had anything to do with drugs.
That’s when my internal search began. I knew there was so much in my past and about my personality I needed to decode in order to understand the root of my addiction. I inhibited a sort of “fake it ’til you make it” mentality. I began picking the parts of myself I wanted to change, and choosing to consciously change them. It felt fake and foreign at first (because it was) but it was necessarily in order for me to shift my mindset. I had to consciously ignore my drug-formulated instincts and act in different ways. Of course it felt foreign at first, but after a while my conscious choices became my new habits, which eventually became my new instincts.
This conscious way of living allowed me to overcome my addiction without turning back. But, it didn’t erase the memories. And when I thought back to who I had been prior to becoming an addict, and thereafter, I felt disgusted, crushed and depressed.
Still, I stayed on the clean road and at 22 was working as an electrician. I had my own apartment, and was even planning for my future. But internal discord was brewing yet again, and I had this lingering feeling I wouldn’t live to see my 25th year. I lived my life carelessly for as long as I could remember, and even being sober I still felt worthless.
Most nights, I’d come home from work, head to the bathroom and pull out my razor knife. In one hand I’d hold my knife and in the other I’d hold my bible. I’d play a “three strikes” game with myself. Blindly, I’d open the bible and turn to three pages at random, point down (eyes still closed) and read the passage. If by the third go I still found nothing, then I’d cut into my wrist and let go of this life. But, each time I played (and I did until I was 27) I always found something that offered hope and inspiration.
TWENTY years after those concussions, I finally received a diagnosis for my personality change and emotional issues — epilepsy. When the doctor first told me, I was in denial. I couldn’t fathom the idea that I wasn’t in control of my own brain. I also despised the idea of medicating myself (yet again) to feel a sense of normalcy.
I opted instead to pretend I wasn’t epileptic and decided against taking the prescribed medications. At 27 I received the same diagnosis from another doctor who also recommended the same medication.
This time I listened. I immediately told my employer (at the electrician job) but, afterwards I was viewed as more of a liability than a help. By the end of the month I found myself “permanently laid off.” I lost my apartment. I ran through my savings paying off doctors and hospital bills. I was no longer allowed to drive and I had to move back in with my parents. Gone was my freedom, independence and the life I had been trying to build.
A few weeks later, I had a prophetic dream that outlined the next four years of my life:
I saw myself in a high rise building located within a city I wasn’t familiar with. I was running from something I couldn’t see, but whatever it was it terrified me. There were doors all around me, but each one was locked and impossible to pass through. I saw a “stairs/exit” sign at the end of the hall and made a beeline for it. I was granted entry, and was either given the option of going up or down. I chose to go down. As I went down the stairs were crumbling beneath my feet. By the time I reached the 4th floor I wasn’t able to go any further. When I looked over the railing I saw no bottom, only a black pit with crumbled stairs and landings as far as I could see. I leaned back against the wall, slid down to a seated position and gave up. Then I woke up.
In real life, I was a lost 27-year-old who felt like everything positive I had worked towards was ripped out from underneath me. I was scared to take medication for the rest of my life. I was scared of having epilepsy and what it meant. But, I couldn’t escape it — it was part of me. It was then that I fell into a morbid depression, fueled in part by my past experiences and by my current medication. The light that was my life grew dimmer by the day, and with it my will to live.
At 31, after years of facing countless struggles, dire depression, addiction and medical issues I gave up for good. I carefully researched how anti-seizure medication works. I learned that if I took too much, my brain signals would slowly halt until I fell into a coma. And that would be the point of no return because there is no way to drain the medication from the body once its taken, and no reversal. I took the entire lot, and blacked out.
The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital and looking out the window. The sun was shinning brightly, and I felt total and complete peace. It was as though all of my worries, my former self and all of my problems had been washed away along with the pills I took.
It was my assumption I’d only been out for the night, but when I asked the nurse about what happened last night she said, “last night was three days ago. You were in a coma.”
I knew exactly why I was in the hospital, and what I had done. All of the reasons for my actions still existed except for the worry.
Shortly after I woke up a friend came to visit me. She was the person who called the cops when she found out what I did. When she approached me I saw clearly for the first time — I saw the love in her eyes and felt it radiating off of her. She was treating me as a mother would treat a child she thought she’d lost. For the first time I felt love from another. That floating, blissful feeling lasted for a week strait before it started to wear off.
By the time I was released from the hospital, I had the instinctual feeling I’d been saved for a reason. Since waking up from my coma, I had various visitation dreams from family members — all of which brought me peace and an internal knowing. I began to deconstruct my life, and realized including this suicide attempt, I should have died at least eight times. But, I didn’t die.
As I went deeper into my past and my life, I did so (for the first time) with an open heart. I searched for lessons and reasons why things happened the way they did. I traced each challenge in my life back to the root, and with each painful memory I slowly began to heal from the inside out.
It was at that point in my life that I felt drawn to play guitar. I had no idea how to read music, but I took the time to teach myself and learn how to play and I’ve been playing ever since! It brings me so much peace, and thrusts me into the present moment. My entire focus is on what note or chord I’m playing. The past, future and all of their accompanying worries melt away.
And my healing didn’t stop there. Six months after I got out of the hospital I randomly stumbled across a yoga instructor who agreed to teach me. The night before I went to her class I started having extreme anxiety. I was afraid of being the only man there. Afraid of being in a group of strangers and afraid of being uncomfortable. Before falling asleep, I asked for a sign to tell me if I should or shouldn’t go to the class.
That night I had a “message dream“. I found myself sitting around a fire with three other beings (I believe this are my spirit guides). Next to us was a stream, and we were seated among a clearing in the woods. The stream and the woods ran in either direction as far as I could see. And out of the words, about 30 feet behind me stepped the yoga instructor. She was smiling, and I could feel peace radiating from her. She walked up to me and said “here” as she handed me three pills to take. I took them and woke up.
What I gathered from that dream is this: The number three is significant, and in this case was referring to my mind, body and soul alignment. The pills were symbolic of my healing — I took them to get better. Therefore, my dream told me that the yoga instructor could help me find a healthy balance in my life. I went to the class that morning and have been going every since.
I’ve come a long way on my journey, and what I’ve learned is this: there’s no easy fix. And there’s no easy way out. Quick cover ups don’t exist. You have to do the work. To put in the time. I ran for so long from my past, my pain and ultimately myself. But, no matter how far away I ran, I always ended up finding myself in the same place as before.
It was only when I started to deconstruct myself, my past and my surrounds with an open and unbiased mindset that positive, lasting changes began to take place. Now I believe I was meant to experience those challenges to help other people going through similar situations, and learn to live life presently.
Above all, I had to learn how to forgive myself. Life goes on. No matter how bad a situation might seem right now — it will pass. I promise you. Many times it’s not that the situation is bad or good, it’s that we perceive the situation to be bad or good. And when we learn to shift our perspective for the better, suddenly our realities change too.
About Tom Huber: Tom Huber is a compassionate soul living in central Pennsylvania who tries to help others through trauma, focusing mainly on epilepsy and depression. Currently practices yoga and meditation, as well as training in shamanic reiki.