This is an unexpected blog post but please bear with me as I try to verbalize a tragedy and make sense of it. I feel that it is very relevant to this time of year.
This is not something I want to write about at all. It is not something any of us want to write about but there are things that need to be conveyed and this is my medium to convey them. This is mostly a therapy session for myself to sort out all of the questions I am trying to answer. If it helps anyone of you in the process that is an added value I will embrace. Trying to understand, let alone verbalize someone you know dying should be an eye opening experience no matter who you are. It should be a time of reflection. A time of grief, sorrow, and mourning. Also, a time to dig a little deeper into yourself and figure out some things that may be going on. Let me just say up front, suicide is not a thing I condone for myself or anyone else. I do not sympathize with it nor do I think it is a viable alternative to anything going on in life. At the same time,I do understand the things that lead to suicide and how fast things can get out of control. I understand how situations can seem beyond a rational point of turning. I can understand how the weight of the world can literally crush you until there is conceivably nothing left. I have been there, a few times. I have been through pain that many people would not even know about. I have not only been witness to someone taking their own life but I have also been the one with a loaded shotgun in my own mouth ready to pull the trigger. In the moment it seems like the logical next step. Let me just say it is a snapshot of something that, in a few weeks, months, years, will not even matter in retrospect. I don’t have some amazing story about how it all happened for me. I will just say that I was miserable, and I was desperate, and I wanted to stop some pain I was having in my life. Not only did I scare the shit out of myself, but I scared the shit out of my dad. That was the moment when I knew I had taken things a little too far. When he looked in my eyes and had nothing to say after only moments earlier screaming and yelling. We were having an overheated verbal pissing contest. It was yelling over something I can’t even remember now. No idea at all what the whole problem was. Not to say this one thing was what brought me to a point of suicidal thoughts and actions, but it was a final straw in a string of events leading up to that moment.
But this isn’t really about me. Tonight I got a message from some good friends letting me know one of my buddies from High School had passed away. I’m not going to get into the details but I will tell you that it kicked me right in the chest. This was one person who had seen a ton of problems and stress in his life. I thought that he was now on a better path over the course of the last few years. This guy was a real trooper. Never really complained. A genuine kind heart and soul. The kind of person who would lay down in traffic for you. The kind of person who would take a bullet for you. Always had a smile on his face despite pain he might have been experiencing. Always willing to give up what he had if it would help someone else. He didn’t ask for much in life other than a roof over his head and food on the table for his family. I feel like I have lost one of my own flesh and blood tonight. And I feel like shit because I haven’t really talked to him in a while. I feel that if I could have talked to him things might have turned out different. I didn’t reach out. I didn’t pay attention. A real slap in the face, and the reason why this is so important for me to put out.
Helplessness and Hopelessness
When I say there really is light at the end of every tunnel I mean that whole heartedly. We are all human and we all are going through some point in the storm. ALL OF US! Don’t ever think that you are alone in this world of 7 Billion people. Don’t ever think that no one else has had pain and suffering like you have. Don’t ever think that you are the only one who has thought of taking your own life. And don’t ever think that there is no one out there who will listen.
First and most importantly there are tons of resources.. maybe not for you specifically but if you know someone whom you think is not doing well… you better stop everything you are doing and REACH OUT TO THAT PERSON RIGHT NOW AND JUST ASK THEM IF THEY NEED SOMEONE TO TALK WITH ABOUT ANYTHING… AND THEN GIVE THEM YOUR FULL UNDIVIDED ATTENTION. Do it right now! Do not wait one second! I don’t mean to come off as some tyrant trying to force you to do something but God Damnit, DO SOMETHING! If you don’t think that a few mins of your time are worth saving someone’s life then maybe you need to talk to someone as well.
One quick resource that comes to mind and is readily accessible to anyone is the CrisisTextLine.
TEXT “GO” TO 741741
This is geared more toward the younger crowd because that is one of the easiest ways to reach them. These people are all trained professionals ready to help at any hour of the day. Not a plug, but a resource I wholeheartedly believe in.
Now the elephant in the room. Why? I am no psychologist. I have taught hundreds of Soldiers Resilience Training. It is not something easy to teach because no one wants to get into the touchy-feely part of their lives, especially in a group setting. The science and the practicality behind suicide all point to two things: Hopelessness and helplessness. These are two emotional states that will eat you alive from the inside out. They are the final destination leading to the river Styx. In Greek mythology the river connecting the Earth to the underworld. The portal to hell. Styx meaning hate or detestation. A hatred or detestation with the world. A complete loss of faith in the world and all that is good and just. A place of damnation. This is where I think people end up when they become helpless and hopeless. They lose faith in their meaning in life. The feel like there is nothing out there to fix what is going on. They feel like they are a lost cause and that they have no more real meaning on the world and those closest to them. The thing is, helplessness and hopelessness are an inner dialog that we construct. It is something that we build in our own minds. It is a destructive creature of our own manifestation. It does not come from without.. it comes from within. This may sound like a very scary thing to comprehend, and it actually is a very scary thing, but something that we build out of our own doubt. I do not claim to have all the answers. I will say the time to figure all of this out and work on it is not when you have a gun to your own head. The time to figure all of this out is right now. Most of us do not even realize the self-defeating talk we casually give ourselves every day. It may be harmless now (or so you think) but eventually it will eat you alive and take away all that is good in this world. Without going into massive details, there are dots that need to be connected. You have to get control of the self-talk. That is the very first step. Once you can control the elephant (your subconscious mind), you can control the rider (your conscious mind). Self-talk comes in many forms. There are only a few things you can do to actually turn it off. Without sounding cliche’, my biggest suggestions would be some sort of mindfulness. I hear it over and over from a lot of people. I wouldn’t mention it if I did not use it myself and think that it makes a difference. I really don’t care how foo foo you think it maybe. It could potentially save your life if you are contemplating suicide (or know someone who is). There are three apps that I have personally tried and had good success with as a starting point: Calm, Headspace, and Omvana. These all have their own method of teaching basic mindfulness. The main thing is to commit the time to go through a few days with an open mind and just see how it affects you. The Calm app also has a companion book you can get from any major book retailer for those who might need a tangibleile guidebook. I highly recommend all three. I have been doing a mindfulness practice on my own for over a year now and it has done some tremendous things in my life. Get out of your own head and get out of your own way. Bring a little balance to your life. Let someone know if you are not feeling that great. I will just put it out right here. Any of you ANY OF YOU can reach out to me directly here and I will at least listen to what you have to say and try to point you in the right direction…assuming you have read this far.
I am not going to make this drag on and on. I can’t emotionally or physically at this point. In general just be aware of those around you. The people you know and the ones you may not know. The friends and the strangers. I meet people all the time who are complete strangers and by virtue of me inquiring I find out they may or may not be in a good place. They may need someone to talk to. The may only require my ear for a few min and that is enough to get them back to a more realistic place. It is worth my time to drop everything I am doing to offer my ear. I don’t feel there is anything else more important that letting someone know you care enough to listen. I truly miss my friend and I wish he was still here. I wish I could have talked to him at least before he left this world so unexpectedly. My complete soul goes out to his family and friends for the loss of a great man, a great father, a great husband (married or not), a great son, and of course a dear friend. Regardless of what has transpired, you will always have the highest respect, my friend.
I am human and we humans don’t always make the right choice in the time allotted. You (and I) should, however, revisit this from time to time. We should tell the ones we care about just as unexpectedly how much we really love them. We should think about a Latin term (used in Ancient Greece) “Momento Mori” meaning literally “Remember, you will die”. We all will eventually end our lives on this planet. I just don’t think we need to prematurely rush the inevitable. We should also think of Seneca who said, “Life is long, if you know how to use it”.
YOUR life is long, if you know how to use it.
Be well over the holidays and my blessings for a safe and prosperous new year to everyone!