Today’s feature wasn’t easy to produce, but I’m very thankful for it. We’re sitting down with Mr. Robert Mathew Raum. Robert Mathew not only helps create the videos found on the AAT YouTube channel but he also happens to be one of my (Anthony Crosby) best friends. This month (October) marks the five-year anniversary of a very emotional event that I will never, personally, forget. I asked him to share his story and his account of the situation because, honestly, I couldn’t be prouder of the man he is today. He’s a deacon in his local church, he’s thriving at his current job as a mobile expert at Elko’s new T-Mobile store, he recently moved into a nice little place in the “Tree Streets;” He’s succeeding in significant ways. I’m proud of this for my friend because I know he’s had to work hard to overcome a lot over the last five years to get where he is now. I asked him to share about his life with the desire of bringing hope to those who may be struggling with a lot of same thoughts and inner demons Robert Mathew’s going to talk about shortly. I pray Robert Mathew’s story can inspire people who feel as if they are at the bottom of their life to know they too can one day find themselves climbing to the top. What Robert Mathew’s doing today is very brave; I’m very thankful for the fact that he knows his story may describe some things about it, but it doesn’t have to define him.
Robert Mathew. What’s your story?
“I could sit here and say I had a horrible childhood, so that’s why certain things happened. However, I don’t think a vast majority of my depression and anxiety came from the fact that I had a rough childhood. Honestly, I think a lot of it came from within myself. When I was thirteen years old, I really liked this girl who self-harmed. I wasn’t actually there when she harmed herself, but I saw the scars. I had no idea why anybody would want to do that, and I encouraged her to get away from it. I remember thinking that I would never do that to myself. I remember being so adamant against it; it’s funny how things can change so quickly. Fast-forward a few years; I fell into a time of a lot of self-pity. I remembered that girl who had self-harmed, so I decided I wanted to try it. I cut myself once; it was not a fun experience; I told myself I was never doing it again! A few days later, I cut two more times. The more and more I decided to cut my arms, the more I was abusing the “feel good” chemicals in my brain. Within a matter of minutes, I could get this instant gratification of thinking I felt better. It gave me this exhaling type of feeling; I would argue that the whole experience can become an addiction. I wanted to be the best at being the worse. Over the next few years, I began to spiral down into my negative or even harmful thoughts about myself image and other people. When I was seventeen there was a night when I tried to journal; I read over what I was writing and realized that I didn’t want to be the type of person who would put those sorts of things to paper; I questioned why I hadn’t gotten “better” over the last few years. I ended up hitting my head against a big tv multiple times, and I shaved my hair. My mom came home the next day, and I told her I needed to go to the hospital because I was truly depressed. I went to the Elko Behavioral Health Unit for about two weeks, met some awesome people there, and got on some medication.”
“Months passed, and I was doing pretty well. However, I hate to admit something as silly as this is what sent me over the edge, I eventually met a girl. This girl stopped liking me after a while and started dating my best friend. This resulted in me wanting to be done with the world. I had too many ups and downs over the years, and I didn’t want to deal with it anymore. The panics, anxiety, anger, all my mixed emotions… I wanted to be done with them all. I came home one night while my mom and step-dad were at the bowling alley. I started searching through different options I could pursue when it came to actually commit suicide. I looked up the information of the different medications my mom was taking, as I wanted to find the most lethal one to take. I ended up grabbing her hydrocodone. I found my mug I had gotten from my previous trip to the hospital, filled it with water, and washed down a handful of pills. I paced around for about ten minutes and thought it wasn’t working, so I grabbed another handful and washed those down. The final number of pills I ended up taking was sixty-five. I felt my stomach get uneasy, so I went to the bathroom; all I could think was I didn’t want to make a mess in the living room. I sat against the tub and the next thing I knew, I heard a scream. I thought my mom had gotten home after ten minutes of me going into the bathroom; it was three hours. She found me, and I tried to tell her to hand me my toothbrush, but I couldn’t remember the name for the word toothbrush. The ambulance arrived, took me to the hospital, and I don’t really remember anything for the next three days. I eventually went up to St. George Utah, a gorgeous place, to live at a residential facility for five months. I ended up finishing my high school diploma there which was amazing!”
Five years later, where do you get the strength to continue pressing forward every single day now that you’re living in a healthy manner?
“I’ve had to do a lot of uphill trekking to get where I am today. I’ve been told multiple times, from therapists and family, that the ups and downs of my story are things I’m going to have to live with for the rest of my life. So, how do I find the effort to move forward and build up my life? It’s all rooted in my belief structure; my belief that one day I’ll be in Heaven with God. With Jesus, I have hope that everything will be fine. I also think a lot about the phrase “love is about devotion before it is emotion.” If I’m going to say I love somebody, like say I love my mom, my devotion to her should produce strength not to give up. I want to be devoted to caring for myself for the sake of truly loving the people in my life. Living with this type of mindset does come with a lot of work, but another phrase that has helped me says, “it doesn’t matter how or why we’re here now, it only matters what we choose to do now.” How are you going to handle your life situations in ways that are not going to be harmful to you but help you grow? I still have a strong dislike for what my teenage years were; I wish I could say they were something better. I wish I could say, even after all these years, I haven’t been too prideful to truly tell my mom I’m sorry for what she had to come home and find. However, I can’t change how all of that went down, but I can choose what I can do right now.”
Besides the fact that Anthony asked, why did you want to share your story and be vulnerable in this way with the Elko area community?
“One of the biggest aspects of who I am revolves around the word empathy. I honestly don’t know why, but growing up I always wanted to be the most relatable person to others; however, sometimes you have to have gone through certain events in other to best relate to the events others are going through in their lives. So, when it comes to sharing my story, I wanted to share it because I want others who may be struggling with the same things to know that someone knows how it feels; I know. There’s comfort in that fact because it can help someone know they’re not just out here by themselves. I want to help see others grow.”
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Stay strong, Elko!