As you all, I’m sure, have heard, Robin Williams, multifaceted, face of so many beloved characters, genie of our hearts, and leading funnyman, has chosen to end his own life. There are those who will judge the action, but it was depression that took his life.p>I’m just sad.
I’m upset in the moment. I’ve been hearing of far too many suicides this past year. Robin Williams, the son of my dear friend’s dear friend (and in the wake of his sister’s marriage), in June I learned a good friend of mine from childhood took her life in 2012 when it was thought she was a most happy person. The list goes on – friend of friend, mentor, teacher, father, people who were very much so loved and needed in this world. I am fortunate that no one so close to me has chosen to end his or her own life, but I question why am I hearing of so many making this drastic, horrific, and sadly unnecessary path out of this great world?
I understand sadness. I understand the immeasurable, overwhelming feeling of great loss. I understand feeling like you’re drowning in grief from failure, debt, misfortune, mistakes, but I also know, even in the darkest of hours, even when I feel like I have nowhere to turn, no one to turn to, that I have made so many mistakes and don’t want to take the heat for the irresponsibility I have made, there are those who will still love me and still help me no matter how great the evils I have cast.
It’s too much. There’s been too many self-serving deaths recently. It’s the final mistake. The point of no return. You can’t fix this one. Can’t change your mind. End. And for what? No good comes from that decision. For anyone. They say things like, “well at least he’s not in pain anymore,” but that’s just something to say! There’s no comfort in that! These individuals could have ended their pain by facing it – facing the sadness, the demons, drugs, lies, whatever it may be. Pinpointing what it is that makes them feel they want to extinguish their lives. Telling themselves “this is upsetting me now, but the sun is still shining and warm on my face, I know people that will answer their phone if I need someone to talk to, there are community services I can go to no matter my income, and I know, in a little while, after doing something I enjoy doing and maybe a good night’s rest, I’ll be better.” Because tomorrow is another day! Seeking help. Setting aside pride and the idea that “normal people don’t feel this way so I don’t want to talk to anyone about it because I don’t want them to think I’m weird and I can just carry this on my own” however hard that is to do (trust me, I understand how hard it is!). Being verbal about how they’re feeling and telling it out loud to their spouses, friends, family, anyone just so someone knows, hey, he’s not happy today and we need to remind him of all the greatness there is in this life and all the love he is given. There is always, I repeat ALWAYS light at the end of the tunnel; you just have to allow yourself to see it!
While I may be met with despicable comments about this post, and that’s okay, you’re entitled to your opinions as I am entitled to mine, suicide is a wholly selfish act. The only outcome to ending your moment of misery is hurting those around you. The people I knew who have committed suicide had children, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, siblings, neighbors, friends, coworkers, people who were greatly, heavily affected by their act. One even chose to also take her life because they couldn’t cope with the loss of her loved one…who had taken his life…thus causing a domino effect of grief. And now this wave of people have to spend the rest of their lives not fully pieced together, wondering what they could have done to help, feeling guilty they weren’t closer, didn’t call more often, didn’t reply to that text that one night, wishing they could see this one person again. To hold, to kiss, to say “I love you and you’re a great importance in my life.”
Because in suicide, you’ve fated yourself to an eternity in Hell. Yes, that is what I believe. Yes, it’s okay for you to disagree and believe something else.
And no, I am not being a judgmental prick on a sensitive subject casting my opinions blindly.
These are well worn shoes I too have been in. And these are words I have seldom uttered. It is a bold thing to talk about your own death…
A decade ago I sought out to take my own life. I had quietly suffered for years with depression. Primarily, it was a chemical imbalance which could have easily been remedied early on. I grew up in a family where we didn’t talk about their feelings. My parents tended to dismiss the notion when I said I was sad and I thought it was unusual I was sad all the time even in moments when I shouldn’t have been. My mother would used the excuse “every teenager goes through that.”
I felt bad enough when I told my dad I couldn’t drink milk anymore and asked him to buy soy milk for me – he heaved a heavy sigh, as he always does when he hears something ridiculous, and I felt I was greatly inconveniencing him by having to add another item on the grocery list. His actions made me feel like I was inadequate and broken, not normal, so I felt I couldn’t turn to him when this sadness I had been feeling was becoming worse. I felt defective.
I didn’t open up about it to friends because I thought I would sound stupid for feeling like this. It’s not like I had a bad life – big house, public education, lots of family, Christian family, a few friends, after school activities, I didn’t come from a bad situation. I never had a lot of friends though and have spent a large part of my time alone.
Up until more recently I had virtually no relationship with my five siblings. The four oldest are so much older than myself, between 10 and 15 years, so when I was younger our conversations were a lot of, “when I was your age…” They had their own lives, lived far away – east coast, west coast, Rocky Mountains, had their own family and friends, there’s not a lot of time for baby sisters and teenage feelings so I didn’t call often. Again, I didn’t want to burden them with my stupid feelings. My little brother, like all little brothers, was a smelly boy intent on picking on his sister and embarrassing her in front of school-crushes.
A chemical imbalance. Fueled by loneliness and feeling a bit forgotten. At 17, during the summer before my senior year in high school, I lost my best of friends in a car accident. I mentioned this in a previous post. She burned to death. I was in San Francisco staying with my sister. I felt so helpless and so stuck. Megan and her boyfriend Chris, who also perished in the accident, was the sweet and shiny glue to our group of friends and with their deaths came losing them all. I spent a year not sleeping, spending most my nights sitting on the roof, looking at the stars, drinking mountain dew, and listening to a Michael W. Smith CD I had stolen from Chris’s room over and over. I began dating a boy who put me down every chance he got, blamed me when things went wrong, told me I embarrassed him, and made me feel guilty I wouldn’t sleep with him. We were together for nearly two years; into college.
I had been given these little burdens to bear, a weight slowly increasing upon my shoulders over the years, while staying giggly and smiley to the rest of the world, until one day it was just too heavy. It was a normal day sometime in spring or just before fall, I don’t remember – bright and sunny. I don’t even remember the reason why I had gotten into such a deep sadness, but I remember I had been talking with an old friend earlier online. It was that last straw, as they say. I was unable to see out of the negative thoughts I pounded down on me. I had convinced myself I wasn’t good enough and had no purpose in this world. Next thing I knew I was standing in my parents’ kitchen (I lived at home at the time), which is in a part of the house that didn’t get a lot of sunlight, and had a knife in my wrist. It was so painful. I never thought for once it was going to hurt a great deal, but a knife-cut feels like burning. I sat for a bit listening to the silence and my breathing, watching the blood congeal to my skin, and decided I didn’t like the silence. I wanted to hear a voice so I picked up the phone and called my other most dearest of friends, Cathy. If anyone knows Cathy they know she never picks up her phone. Never. I told myself, if Cathy doesn’t answer then I’m going to go through with this, I’m going to finish the cut.
I was gobsmacked when I heard her voice on the other end. I didn’t expect it whatsoever, I had planned to say goodbye on her voicemail, and chose to believe my guardian angel was watching out for me that day. I never told her my plans, only stuttered out that I’ve been really wanting to hop in the car and go on a road trip. I said I didn’t know to where or for how long, just that I was thinking about driving away. She told me not to go, that she had class in a half hour and to come over and see her. Campus in Green Bay, Wisconsin (where I lived then…sorry, should have mentioned that earlier) was 35 minutes away from my house. I made it there in 10. I wore a long sleeve shirt so she wouldn’t see the small damage I had done to myself and I remember Cathy smiling, she has such a bright and beautiful smile, and being so kind to me. My eyes were a bit bloodshot from crying. She could see it, but didn’t bring it up. Instead she heated me up some soup-in-a-cup, asked me to promise her I wasn’t going to go on a road trip, gave me a signature big Cathy hug and told me she loved me. I broke my promise, of course, I went to Whitefish Dunes State Park and spend the day buried in the sand, half in Lake Michigan, and stared up at the clouds. It took making a phone call, getting out of the house, immersing myself in traffic, talking with a friend even though it wasn’t on the subject itself, but talking with a friend, and feeling the warm sun to finally bring this sadness to a bearable weight. It took a day and a night for me to see that, even though I have emotionally unavailable parents, siblings that are much older and further away, and few friends, I would put them through even more pain if I chose to commit suicide. I was able to dig myself out of such depression, of feeling sorry for myself, I was able to see that light, and see what the outcomes of my actions would be. I saw the selfishness of suicide.
It took a great deal of arguing after that point to get my parents to listen that, no, this isn’t just a teenage feeling, that I needed help. While I knew I would never put my life in my own hands like that again, I also knew to seek help to rid myself of such a depression. I saw a psychiatrist for a time who told me I needed to be rebalanced. While I relied on a doctor for a bit of medicine, I found within myself the ability to put aside these feelings of inadequacy. It was hardest to say to myself, “No, what you’re feeling isn’t stupid and no you don’t have to carry it alone.” I began building stronger relationships with my siblings, with my parents, and made a better attempt at making friends. My sisters became the best therapists I could ever ask for and helped me to see I have great purpose and importance in this world. A couple years later there came a day I didn’t need medication any longer and was able to tackle the toughest situations with great strength.
I had built strength. I had found confidence. I had been shown love. I persevered.
I ask anyone who reads this to pass it on because I’m asking you a favor. Take time today, this week, this month, this year, to be kind to one another. Hold the door for the person behind you. Smile at a stranger as they pass by. Help a mother who has her hands full with the kids carry out the groceries to her car. Tell each one of your staff members they’re doing a good job, that you appreciate the work they do, and give specifics as to why. Call that friend you haven’t talked to in a while – maybe invite them out for a drink. Turn to your husband, your wife, your life partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, look them straight in the eyes and tell them why it is you love them so profoundly. Call your mom and tell her you love her. Take time for someone else and not yourself.
Be kind. It isn’t hard to do. It’s free, it doesn’t take time away from your day, it’s completely painless. And remember, kindness always comes back.
Because, while we all walk different paths, we’ve all been given different lives, no matter who you are, no matter how rough it is, you can get through what ails you. Dawn always comes after the dark. To those who are in a situation, whether it be depression, drug addiction, corruption, bullying, sexual orientation whatever your reason, if you’re considering taking your own life, please stop. Take a step back. Look up, look out, look at the clouds and ask yourself, “Who will I be hurting by hurting myself.” Tell yourself over and over until you finally believe it there is help, there is help, there is help, and that you will be okay.
Because you will be okay. And if that’s not enough, then come here. Come to me. I live in Northern Minnesota and I will heat you up some soup and give you a very big and very warm hug.