I have been wanting to write about this for awhile but I wasn’t really sure where to start and how much to talk about.
Mostly because it hurts. Mostly because I get angry. Mostly because it’s exhausting to go back and forth between the two. But I need to write it out. Because I can’t hear Why by Rascal Flatts without bawling my eyes out. Because I couldn’t watch 13 Reasons Why without staying up all night thinking about this. Because I’ve written about it in my personal journal for months and I think sharing might be a key to healing- and maybe I can shed some light for those who have gone through the same thing.
This post that has been buried in my drafts for months will finally see the light.
There isn’t really a nice or poetic way to say it (or any of what I’m about to talk about really) so here it is: suicide has been a re-occurring event in my life.
***NOTE: I’m going to be talking about what has happened to me, this is just a warning in case someone finds this triggering. If you are feeling sad or are having thoughts of self-harm/suicide, you can reach me at my email: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255. You are not alone.***
Instead of trying to explain, it would be easier to tell you what happened.
My first experience with it was in college. I’m not gonna name them or give any graphic details because I don’t think that would be right.
My sophomore year of college, I transferred to a new university. I loved it, but starting off at a new school can be rough. I really wanted to make friends, so I struck up a conversation with the person next to me at orientation. Little did I know that we would become best friends.
A few months later, they told me that they struggled with depression. They had told me before that they had thought about suicide a few years ago, but those thoughts were in the past and they had found reasons to be alive.
I was happy for that – they had made my life so special. I was thankful for their life and their friendship. They were one of those people who were the life of the party – ready to dance, go for a taco run at 2 am, and have those deep talks with on the balcony when everyone else was asleep. They were truly special.
Nothing that they had said had made me worry. Nothing that they had said had made me question their mental health. Nothing seemed wrong.
One day after my stats class, I checked my phone to see several texts from this friend during the class saying that they needed help: “Sam, I need help” “I can’t do this” and “I need you to take me to the hospital”.
My heart dropped. My stomach was sick because something in me already knew. I took off running. I’m calling and calling but they don’t answer. I literally was sprinting from one side of campus to the other to get to the dorms. I was calling their roommate and their suitemates with no reply. When I got to the dorm, I was banging on the door for them to let me in. I remember trying to stay calm as I was yelling their name, hoping my fears were just fears. I didn’t know what to do, my heart and mind were racing and I was frozen. I was about to call 911 when the door finally opened.
I walked in to find that my friend had cut themselves, there were smaller ones along the wrist and one long cut going up the arm. I will never forget the way it looked, the blood and tears. How in that moment I didn’t know what to do or what to say. But I knew I had to be calm and stay strong. I was scared. I wanted to freak out. I got them to help and they ended up being okay.
Once I got back to my dorm I threw up. I thought what if I hadn’t been there? What if I had been too late? I finally let myself break down and cry. Sometimes I still think about it and I get sick.
It’s not something that I’ll ever forget. For awhile after that I thought about what I could have done to prevent it. What were the signs that I had missed??? Why didn’t I know??? HOW COULD I NOT HAVE KNOWN??? I was her best friend, for God’s sake, if anyone should have known, it should have been me.
It tore me up. It saddened me to my core.
The second is a little more recent. One of my parent’s best friends daughters (who was about 9 years older than me) recently took her life a little over a year ago. I remember that I found out through Facebook. (Yes, Facebook. I was so angry at my parents for not telling me, but that’s another story…)
I thought it was some kind of joke at first. Her sister had shared a link to a go fund me account and my initial thought was what is this? Some people had already donated and there were comments saying I’m so sorry for you loss. Loss? What in the hell had happened? I texted my parents with my heart pounding I think something has happened…you need to call the family.
My mom immediately called me and told me what they knew – she had taken her life. My friend who has known me since I was two years old. Who watched Lion King with me on repeat because it was my favorite movie. Who took me ice skating and held my hand because I was too afraid to go on my own. I danced with her at her wedding. I looked up to her in every single way, ever since I was young, hoping that one day I could be like her. She was one of my favorite people in the whole world.
Even now typing this, I’m crying.
I remember crying in my bed in my apartment for hours. I can’t really describe how it feels which is odd because I always have words for everything.
But not for this.
It didn’t feel real either. All the way up to her funeral, I was in disbelief. I knew why we were there but I still thought I’d be seeing her, playing with her kids. It wasn’t until we sat at her funeral and I was sitting with her husband, sister, and parents watching her slideshow… you know what, I don’t really want to talk about that.
I couldn’t stop thinking how about a year before that, I had just gotten a new camera. I begged my parents to take me somewhere, anywhere, so that I could take pictures. My mom finally agreed and we visited these friends. That would be the last time I saw her before she passed.
In all my life, after every heartbreak and struggle, I have never really known true pain like that. I’ll never know her grow older. She’ll never know me grow older. She’ll never see me get married, or have kids of my own. It hurts. It hurts. It hurtshurtshurts.
I don’t really know how to end this because this was more of a vent than a words of wisdom post.
I guess if there are any take aways it would be to love people. Love people enough to help them get help. Love people enough to see through their masks. Love people enough to support them, even when they are depressed. Love people because they might not be here tomorrow.
This topic sparks a lot of talk and thinking. Which I think can be a good thing. Depression is still highly stigmatized, although it is getting better. I can’t help but wonder if we treated mental illness like we treated physical illness (“Oh, you broke your leg? No walking, stay in bed. THE KEY IS REST!!!” vs. “Oh, you’re depressed? Staying in bed all day isn’t gonna make you feel better!! Just get over it – try and see the positive side.”) if there would be a difference in how people handled their situations.
Either way, suicide is never the answer.
I’m still working on forgiveness and understanding – for them and for myself.
Life can be so difficult sometimes, it’ll kick you when you’re down and leave you gasping for air.
But it can also be beautiful. Family, friends, riding with the sunroof open, concerts, seeing a dog, listening to the waves crash on the shore, bonfires and s’mores…
Dancing, going for taco runs at 2 am, and having those deep talks on balconies when everyone else is sleeping. Watching the same movie for the thousandth time, ice skating hand in hand, and dancing at weddings. Those memories. Those small moments, they are what make life worthwhile.
We have to remember the good to get us through the bad.