On August 5th, 2015, I learned something that brought me to my knees. Then, it curled me into the fetal position and left me on the floor. Then, it kicked me in the back and knocked life down around me and sat on me until I couldn't breathe.
In September, 2015, at the age of 44, I sat in my home contemplating suicide.
Oh, it wasn't some instant moment of, "Hey. Why don't I check out?". It was more a slow realization that I could not deal with this kind of Pain.
I was not equipped to deal with the kind of Pain that embodies you and refuses to leave for even one minute,one second, of the day. And for a long moment, checking out seemed like a really beautiful option. A relief. A respite. It looked like hope.
I am what Suicide Prevention looks like.
Here's the thing: My entire life, in some form, people around me have consistently spoken to me, and about me, as someone who is strong. Maybe I am, I don't know. Maybe not. I don't think I care anymore.
What I am is broken and human. But, I'm learning that the truest, brightest light only gets in through the cracks, though, so I'm embracing my broken. Usually.
What I also know is that we don't talk about depression and anxiety and brokenness in a way that people who aren't struggling can understand that the people who ARE struggling look completely normal and, usually, OK. I mean, truly OK.
We don't look like our lives have crumbled. We look like everyone else on the outside, but we aren't like everyone else on the inside at that moment.Maybe for lots and lots of moments and we need to talk about it without shame or fear of judgement.
There is no judgement here in this place with me. None.
Usually, even the people around us don't know. No one advertises their pain on a big pain banner because - let's be real - our world idolizes, "I'm fine. How about you?." "I'm fine, thanks for asking." We actually like to think we're "finer" than most people and will go to great lengths to prove we're fine. We're awesome. Everything is awesome. Even if we're light years away from awesome, the motto is, "We're still fine!"
Most people don't want to be real because it hurts. It's a little embarrassing. I mean, God forbid you not be fine! God forbid you not be happy and OK and doing pretty well. It's not acceptable. (Acceptable is my new least favorite word, by the way.)
Here's the other thing: Pain and shame and hurt are the things we humans run from like our butts are on fire and it's burning the skin from our body in bite size pieces. It catches up with us through drugs or sex or food or shopping or lying or perfectionism or isolation or all sorts of other ways but sometimes, it catches up to us as we view the EXIT door like it's the last real thing in a world filled with lies and hurt and pain.
Too often, we're taught to fear, or avoid, the pain and the shame and the brokenness. So, if you find yourself in a place that you can't run from it and you can't deal with it, what do you do?
You try to kill it.
You try to kill the pain and the brokenness and then it'll be dead. It'll be gone!! In that moment, you aren't thinking about you being dead along with it. You mostly don't give a damn as long as the excruciating pain will just stop.
So, we need to talk about it.
I need to talk about it. And because it's Suicide Prevention Week/Day/Month, I'm going to talk about it.
And I'm not talking to the people who've never been there and think they understand. You don't. I used to be one of you and you don't understand and I hope and pray you never, ever do.
BUT, if you HAVE been there, if you ARE there, if you know someone who IS there, this is for you:
It's OK to feel too much. It's OK to feel pain so visceral that it rearranges you, changes you forever. It's OK. You're OK. There is Hope.
It's OK because you are really a gift that the world needs for those of us who have found ourselves in a place that isn't "fine".
I need you.
I swear to you there is Hope.I have been with you as you lay curled on the floor crying so hard you are soundless and formless and bereft of anything but Pain.
I know what it feels like to be soundless and formless, sweet friend.
I have been with you as you looked at the world that has gone dark and cold and it just keeps on spinning and spinning and why the hell won't it stop spinning for JUST A SECOND?!
I know the soundless place. It is the loudest, most chaotic place on Earth, isn't it? It's so loud that no sound can escape, but no sound can get in, either. Not even thought can survive there, but Hope lives. The depression, the pain, is lying to you. It is a liar. Hope is living and breathing.
Stand up. Crawl out. Claw your way to the door. There is more good coming. I swear to you, there is more coming.
You and I know that once the Exit door makes itself truly known, it never really gets unknown, though, right?
But, please listen to me now: You get another try. YOU GET TO TRY AGAIN. You are NOT out of options.
Listen closer: Pain is not your master and it is not your enemy. It is your teacher. It's trying to tell you something. You don't have to listen to it RIGHT NOW, but you have to let it visit for a minute. You can listen to it once you get out of the soundless place that's so loud you can't hear anything but the pain. Feel it, stand up with it and RISE.
This is the hard part, but you can do it. You are loved. You are loved right now, right where you are.
If you have people in your life who are telling you to just "get over it", ignore them. They don't know and they don't understand and that's OK. They don't have to. Ignore them.
If you have people in your life who are telling you to just "pray harder and believe more", ignore them. God has not placed them on your path. They do not know and they don't understand and that's OK. They don't have to. Ignore them.
This minute, simply choose the option to take one more step.
Turn off the music that feeds the darkness pouring into you and out of you. Refuse to feed that. Turn off the TV shows that trigger things in you that you don't understand. Stop immediately. Turn on happy music and eat something you love. Do this until you can get somewhere to get help. And you MUST get help. You can't do this one alone and that is OK. You don't have to.
Get help. I will tell you I went through therapy about 5 years ago that helped me see my EXIT door and walk away. I went back to therapy and have every intention of continuing. Ignore people who tell you not to get help. Get help. Find someone who HEARS YOU and you feel comfortable with them hearing you and then tell them.
If you and your therapist determine that for now you need medication, take the medication. No one tells someone with cancer not to take meds, or rather, healthy people don't tell people with cancer not to take medication or get help, right?
If you cannot heal right now without the meds, take the medication. TAKE THE DAMN MEDICATION. Ignore anyone who tells you that you don't need it if you can not do this without it right now. That is your call. You are the boss of you.
You probably won't need them forever but if you do, take the medication because you deserve your time on this plane of existence. Hold up your medicated head and LIVE.
The medication will help you hear the lies in the depression if you can't hear them without it.
The medication will help you see the Pain without becoming the Pain. (Only you who've been here understand that statement. We are a tribe. We understand.)
YOUR LIFE IS WORTH LIVING. You matter. You are worth doing whatever you need to do to get healthy. No matter who has hurt you or who you have hurt, life is worth living.
Pain is real, but so is Love. Wrestle the Pain and the Love will come. Embrace the Pain and Love will return your embrace. Learn from the pain and Love will be your final teacher. I get that that may not make complete sense right now, this minute. Will you trust me when I say that you will understand and relief will come because you feel SO MUCH, so strongly and so deeply that you will understand if you just rise and stay and fight?
Please, please stay with us. You have something to say and do and achieve and be. I know because those of us who face the monster called suicide and knock it on its ass find a place inside that other people don't have. I know because I didn't have it once. I know because I have it now.
It is a new place where Hope and Compassion and Truth and Honesty live in a way they did not live in me before.
Stay, sweet friend.
I love you. I feel you. I am you.
PS...If you are alone or you don't have anyone you trust enough to talk to or you simply can't tell anyone but a stranger or if you just need this number, I am begging you to call them if you think today might be the day the EXIT door looks better than the LIFE door:
They are available to you 24/7. They will hear you.