Exactly one year ago, I sat in the lobby of a hostel in Montevideo, Uruguay. The internet speed was mediocre, at best. And the hot air sat stale without movement. I was nearing the end of a monthlong offshore with Expensify and enjoyed the solitude I found behind a desk.
Things changed quickly, as a coworker rushed down the stairs.
“Is everything ok?” I asked.
“No. It’s not.” she said. “I’ll tell you later, but I have to go right this minute.”
I knew from the haunted look in her eyes that something was very, very wrong.
She later shared that her brother, Rene, had committed suicide. She has since started an organization to raise awareness for mental health and to start the conversation that it’s okay to not be okay.
Today, I find myself packing bags for Portland and reflecting on the wonderful chapter that San Francisco has been. These past years have been full of laughter, love, dancing (and more dancing), and personal growth.
To honor one year since Rene’s passing, I wanted to share a bit more about my own personal story that led me to California.
My fourth and final year in Dallas was a painful one. It was the perfect storm; emotion, business, and relationships crashing together in a maelstrom. I fought the pain for several months, aided by the loving support of my friends and family.
Yet, things weren’t getting better. I found myself swimming in a sea of anxiety from the moment I woke up in the morning until I fell asleep at night – rarely sober.
One morning, I woke up and it was simply too much.
I was going to end my life that morning.
I walked to the front door and grabbed the red dog leash hanging from my mail organizer, intending to hang from my bedroom closet. As I walked to my closet, I passed my phone and thought to call my brother, Steve. I felt shame and embarrassment, and started to put the phone down.
Call it the universe, but something inside of me told me to pick up the phone and dial my brother.
Steve saved my life that day; taking several hours away from the office to talk me through the pain and suffering I was experiencing.
At the the end of the call, Steve said a few words that would change my life:
“Aaron, have you thought about moving to California?”
One month later, I found myself living in San Francisco, employed at a tech startup, and embraced by a most wonderful group of friends that would become my heartbeat and joy.
Since that day, I have learned that there is never too dark a night, too fierce a storm, or too painful a moment when you are loved and supported by others.
I would encourage you to be like Steve and love the people around you through their good days, and also their worst. The time and love you give to others is so powerful and it has impact you may never fully comprehend.
I wanted to share this story before moving, because I think it’s important for people to talk about mental health and suicide prevention. These things don’t just happen to the crazy people, but often to people just like you and me.
This story is one of the many reasons I say:
“Every day gets better.”
Thanks, Steve. For everything.