Quarter Life Crisis

The End Of The Ocean’s Kevin Shannon talks being diagnosed with manic depression in his early 20s.

Somewhere in early 2012, I was doing the mind numbing job of driving around an armored car when it hit me: I’m getting older. What the fuck am I actually doing with my life? Wild as it may be transporting literal pallets of cash and gold, I knew there had to be something more. Every day began bleeding into the next, doing the same shift, same route, and living the same aimless, hollow, repetitive existence. Nothing was changing. Three years prior to my epiphany I endured dismal work in debt collections when I was diagnosed with manic depression. Talk about being thrown for a loop — I was a total stranger to anything outside of overall generally good mental wellness. Granted, I was carrying the scarlet letter of a freshly failed long-term relationship, and had reached the point of officially giving up on college aspirations to pursue a career in law enforcement, but dang, I thought that diagnosis sounded a little… Dramatic.

When I turned 25, the halfway point to the average retirement age in the US was looming overhead. I was questioning my perceived accomplishments. Playing in a band was fun and all, but sleeping on the floors of gracious strangers while on dead end tours where we were playing shows to eight people — including the bar staff — doesn’t exactly stand out on a résumé as “hire me” material. Hell, both individually and as a group we were going into the financial red just to tour. You might be able to show your best A-roll footage to be able to make it look super fun and adventurous on social media, but what we edit out, the B-roll that we don’t broadcast, and outside of filtered photos, or hilarious hashtags, was the reality of how I was living. The things which consume you once you get home.

Though I was way too young for a mid-life crisis, things went dark for a while and stayed that way. This wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last time, I was tallying up my accolades and getting a bit too hyper-critical of myself. I put off getting help for a long time because I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and weak. Too stubborn to admit to myself that I was unwell. The panic attacks kicking in were the final mayday signal that forced me to acknowledge that this wasn’t going to fix itself. Intrusive and suicidal thoughts were a more than daily struggle on top of just plain existing which in and of itself felt like a begrudging chore.

Devon Sawa, the stoner who smoked weed out of an asthma inhaler and who eventually had to cut off his possessed hand in the ridiculous ‘90s movie Idle Hands, was preaching the truth y’all — they really are the devil’s playground. Doing nothing was destroying me. I had to do something. Anything. Medication lead me to the path to help myself, but I knew that it wouldn’t walk me down it. That would be purely me versus it, gloves off, no holds barred. When merely existing felt like punishment, any step to reclamation of your life is a small victory in the battle for sanity that will eventually win the war. Small goals daily, even if it’s as trivial as making your bed. Eventually I started to realize that I was feeling functional again. It was finally time for me to thrive and not just simply survive. I picked hobbies to occupy the space in my mind to stay productive. The most rewarding being self-employment. Rescuing four cats with my girlfriend comes in close second.

Now that I’m 31, I’m again asking myself, “What the fuck am I actually doing with my life?” I can triumphantly say that I’m living it on my terms. A rolling theme I’ve touched on a few times here is occupation, one insecurity of my past. I think most of us feel some sort of pressure about it growing up, and even well into adulthood. I’ve found something I’m passionate about through running my own business. What would I say to my younger self with what I know now? Chill dude. Life is a long haul game and it’s not a race — you can be losing at halftime but still come back to win the game. You’ll live to be old. Just because you don’t know what you’re doing with your life at this very moment, next month, or next year doesn’t make you a failure. Where you’re at right now is not where you will be, so taste everything and figure out what brings you true fulfillment. As backwards as it sounds, you virtually have to fail in order to succeed, so roll with the punches and don’t lose hope. Set your own standard, cast aside your doubts and double down on your strengths — you’ve got this.

“It’s just a bad day, not a bad life.”

—Kevin Shannon

(Photo Credit: Bee Gats)

Since the project’s inception, The End Of The Ocean have been the subject of great expectations. Upon the release of their 2011 full-length debut, Pacific-Atlantic, the Columbus, Ohio band was immediately christened a torch-bearer in the second wave of American post-rock. Their new album –aire was released in January of 2019 on Equal Vision Records.