For some people life can get overwhelming. Be a bit too much to bear. Death feels like the only way out. Times like that you need hope. It can be hard to find. This is for you. It’s a message of hope. From someone who once had none.
Sometimes when you feel like killing yourself the only thing keeping you hanging on is the thought of how a loved one would feel if you were gone. It might be a parent, a brother or sister, a good friend.
Thing is, if you were like me, there’s probably only that one thing keeping you hanging on. And what seems like a million other reasons telling you to give up. One against a million, like a sand bag against a flood, isn’t going to hold on forever.
I know that for a long time the only thing that stopped me was that I didn’t want to put my parents through the pain of losing a child. That’s the worst thing any parent has to endure.
And that worked. For years. But as the years passed, the emptiness got bigger, the darkness deepened. The black fog continued to consume me.
Until one particular night. It actually wasn’t any different a night from any other. I was just overwhelmed by the thought that although I loved my parents. They couldn’t live my life for me. They couldn’t lift the dark heavy cloud of depression that always hung over my head. They couldn’t answer the question that had been running through my mind for years. A simple question. A question with no singularly correct answer. What’s the point?
I couldn’t see any. And nobody else seemed to know either. Oh everybody has their ideas and theories about life. But they are all just that. Ideas and theories. There is no concrete answer. Nothing definitive. The point is….The question remained unanswered.
So I wrote a note. Put Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Freebird on repeat. Loaded up on painkillers. And lay down for my permanent sleep. That was that. Job done. Game over. Bye world. It hasn’t been nice knowing you.
At least I thought that was that. It obviously wasn’t.
I can’t remember when I started being violently ill. I can’t remember how long I was being sick for before my parents came into my room.
I remember the look in my mother’s eyes when she saw the note though. I remember the guilt I felt. The shame.
An ambulance was called. I was taken to hospital. It turned out I was on the brink of liver failure. The next few days were a bit of a blur.
I spent 2 weeks there. They put me in a ward with an old man. It was just him and I.
Turns out he had cancer. He was dying. He used to look out the hospital window towards the direction of his home talking about how he just wanted to get back there. He never did. He died before my 2 weeks were over.
During my hospital stay I had to see a psychiatrist. He would ask how I was feeling. I would lie. I would say I was feeling fine. That what I did was a huge mistake. I would never try that again.
Only the last line was true. I would never try again because after seeing my mother’s eyes that morning I knew I couldn’t do that to her.
The real truth was that I felt as depressed as ever. Only now that depression was further compounded by the guilt and shame I felt. At that time I felt like a failure, a let down, a disappointment. I was such a failure I had even failed at killing myself.
I was 21 then. I’m 43 now. I’d like to say that I eventually got help. That my depression just went away. That everything has been fine since. I’d like to say that. But I would be lying now as I was then.
I didn’t get any help. I never talked to anyone about it. I even found it hard to look anyone in the eye who knew what I had done. I felt people, including my friends, treated me differently.
The one thing I did do was to resolve to myself that no matter how bad things got. No matter how sad and utterly depressed I got. No matter how pointless things seemed to be. Taking my life would never be an option.
It’s been a long time since. Another lifetime really if my life had ended then. Happily I can say there have been many joys in my life. Joys that I would have missed out on. Like the girlfriend I had who made me believe in love at first sight. Like my niece taking her first steps while we played together. Like meeting the beautiful and caring woman who would become my wife. Like the birth of my son. I could go on…
But let’s get real here. In between those times there have been difficulties and struggles too. My biggest struggle at the moment was that aforementioned wife leaving a year ago. How it has affected both my son and I.
Those storms of sadness sometimes still come around. There might be a reason. There might not. But storms pass. Sunshine will come shining through. The two go hand in hand. Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s dark clouds and manure too.
You won’t always be happy. At the same time that means you won’t always be sad.
And the answer to what’s the point? I can’t answer that for you. No one can. The reason why there are so many ideas and theories about it is because you have to find your own answer. Find your purpose. And don’t worry if you think that will never happen. Your thinking can change. It will change. You can even make it so.
While mental health now doesn’t carry the same stigma as it once did. And while there are so many services out there to help people who are suffering. Back then it wasn’t readily available.
I never talked to anyone about how I was feeling. I always kept it inside. Tried to deal with it myself. I was wrong in doing that.
If you’re feeling suicidal. Talk to someone. And if you feel they aren’t listening or can’t quite grasp how difficult you are finding life. Or think you’re being silly or overdramatic. Keep talking. Keep talking until someone hears you. Keep talking until they understand. Make them listen. Scream it if you have to. Whatever you do, don’t give in.
Then get help. There is no shame. There is no weakness. Asking for help is a far greater thing to do than not. I know I should have. It would have made things easier.
Remember you are not alone. Others have suffered too. There are others suffering right now. There are also others who have come out the other side. Others who have passed through their darkest periods of life. Others who are more than happy to have done so.
Look, I get it, sometimes it feels there is no other way out. Sometimes you might think this world would be better off without you. That you won’t be missed. That there is no hope. Times like that, hope is hard to find.
Even hearing someone talking about hope makes you balk. Yeah, it’s easy to talk about it when you don’t need it. When you need it the most it’s the most difficult thing to find. I know, I was the one who once had none. And for a long time.
If I can give you anything it’s this. My story of going from hopeless to hopeful. You might not believe this right now but there is something special within you. A gift you might not yet have discovered. A strength within that is just waiting to be called upon. A strength that will change your life.
Find faith. I’m not talking about faith in some deity. Although if that’s what works use it. I’m talking about faith in yourself. Faith that if you keep moving on, keep facing each new day, something will change. And it will. You might even make that change, be that change.
The world is constantly revolving. Everything is in a state of motion. You are too. Even if it doesn’t feel like it. With movement comes change. It’s inevitable. Just hang on until the right change happens. Hang on for all your worth. Just hang on. Even if that’s all you can do.
There will come a time when the good outweighs the bad. Where the weight of your sadness is lifted. Where you’ll look back and be glad you found a bit of hope to keep you going. Keep you alive. You never know what beautiful and wonderous things life has in store for you.
Just look at Oprah Winfrey, Martin Luther King, Eminem, Billy Joel. All these people attempted suicide before we even knew their names. Look at what they and the world would have missed out on. Don’t deny yourself the opportunity of finding out too.
That failure of mine has turned out to be my greatest success. It’s a failure I am proud of. It’s the failure that has kept me here. Kept me living. And despite all my problems. The difficulties I have and will continue to face. It has kept me alive long enough to realise what my point is. My answer to the question that plagued me for years. It’s worth hanging on to find out your answer too.
Find your hope. In hope lies your life.
P.s. I don’t think I stressed this enough. If you are feeling suicidal get help.