I Just Needed Someone to Listen
Date of story
Nov 21 2017 - 10:30pm
For the last few months, I've been severely depressed. A close friend of mine overdosed in mid-September, and I haven't had the same passion for life since then. The overdose itself was hard enough to face, but I wasn't prepared for ugly truths about some of my friendships I would inevitably hear. Without going into too much detail, I can say that I lost a lot of the trust I had in my favorite people, and overall, humanity. I was unfairly demonized by people who had never met me, even though the overdose was just as unexpected and emotionally painful for me too. I've never seen anyone so close to death before, and it suddenly hit me how fragile and fleeting life can be. I had just witnessed a friend nearly die, and the series of events that followed in relation to the overdose were almost just as painful. My enthusiasm for my education dwindled, the bright outlook I had for my future became dim, and all things that used to excite me suddenly felt insignificant and hollow. The trauma lasted for weeks, and occasionally, months later, I still have PTSD-like responses to certain stimuli. I live in a college town, and last week was Thanksgiving break. The college is responsible for much of the town's infrastructure and tourism, and during holiday and summer break the population decreases by tens of thousands. Staying in town during breaks is almost as interesting as traveling away, as the lack of students makes for a completely different atmosphere. I was looking forward to a week of peace, both inside and outside of my apartment, a break from the demands of my senior year in college. Honestly, I was most excited for a week to wallow in my feelings of sorrow and emptiness without too much work and school responsibility. I was looking forward to a "pleasant" and "easy" week of depression, a week to myself. My break week was going well, very peaceful, until a few days before Thanksgiving. One day after work, I came home to find my dog, my best friend whom I've had since age 9, unable to walk. Her back legs were completely paralyzed, dragging along the floor as she hobbled towards me with her front legs. Nothing about her seemed out of the ordinary when I left in the morning, and I expected to be greeted by a happy, tail-wagging pup like every day for the last 12 years. I immediately rushed her to the emergency clinic, as it was after hours for our usual vet. The vet there could give me no definitive answer on what happened, although she speculated it was a herniated disc. For financial reasons, I declined x-rays, which the vet stressed might have been inconclusive anyway. With or without the expensive x-rays, the vet offered to treat my dog with pain medications, muscle relaxants, and steroids. The cost of the visit was nearly half of the money I had to my name, as my depression has kept me from working as much as I used to. I was certainly willing to pay what I could for the sake of my dog, but the unexpected expense added another element to my constant stress and anxiety. We returned home that night with medications and very little hope of her walking normally again. After my dog had taken her pain medications and fallen asleep, I decided I needed to get out of the house for a few hours. Having another friend, furry or not, go through immense pain and facing potential loss in my apartment again had left me feeling very triggered. I arrived at the bar to find my favorite bartender working. He and I have always had standard customer/employee interactions, but on this night it must've been obvious that I was upset. His service had always been fantastic, but on this night it was especially so. Whether he was just looking for a handsome cash tip, I'm not sure, but it also doesn't particularly matter because for the first time in a long time, it felt like someone cared. The bar was very busy, but every time he had a free moment, he stopped to discuss what was going on in my life, how my dog was, what my plans for the holiday were. His kind words and seemingly genuine concern for my well-being were much more soothing than any beer I could've ordered. No one had asked me how I was doing in months, or at least, no one had seemed like they really intended to listen to my answer. To anyone else, this might seem very insignificant, but for me all I had needed for months was just someone to patiently listen to what I had experienced recently. He did his job as the only person behind the bar all evening, but still made time to talk to me.