I have come close to suicide too many times, and for the record, even once is too many.
I have mentioned this before, while talking about skateboarding as an escape, but today I would like to go a bit more in-depth about how I became the person I am due to struggling with anxiety and depression.
I am fifteen, sitting on a beach at around midnight with my head on my knees, I can not tell if I am shaking from the cold or the anxiety. There is a large group of people behind me, sitting around a bonfire, I know a few of them but the large portion of this party I have never met (nor will I ever see them again). I am facing away from the group because I can not stop crying, and can barely catch my breath to talk even if I wanted to. A friend of a friend tries to comfort me, she sits beside me and tries to make me laugh, she listens to my problems and nods her head along. It was the summer in between my grade nine and grade 10 year of school. I had started to hang around a cousin my age, he had introduced me to a lot of things that would have a big impact on me, punk music, skateboarding, and alcohol/marijuana. Not to mention, girls. I remember it very clearly still, she had a boyfriend and I had a crush on her. My friends told me she was interested in me but that it was probably a bad idea. I actually can still picture my cousin and his girlfriend walking ahead of me after she rejected me, she was yelling at him “I told you this would happen! We shouldn’t have let him get near her!”. It was the beginning of the onset of clinical depression, even though at the time I had no idea, I just thought I was in love and had my heart-broken.
Now many years later, I have been on antidepressants for about a year and a half. I can honestly say that they have improved my life more than I could have ever imagined. I moved across the country, met a wonderful person to call my partner, and am able to focus on what matters to me. None of this would have seemed possible back on that beach, in fact I am sure that if you were to ask me back then what sort of hopes or dreams I have for eleven years later, I would have shrugged and said I did not know. In my head however, I would have been thinking “I will probably be dead”. The truth is that I never actually tried to end my life, but at the same time I came so close as to plan it out. And even that scared me, because nobody should have to experience planning out an early end to their life.
I decided to write a letter you my young self, in hopes that maybe it would help me heal old wounds, and if nothing else, maybe help someone else heal new wounds.
“Dear Mikey (as I was called, and still often am),
What I am about to say, you will probably not listen to, but I am going to write it down anyway just so you can have these words to hold onto. I know how you have been feeling, weak, alone, tired, and above all else scared. Some of the people around you are trying their best to help you. I know it does not seem that way, but they love you and are doing their best. But that is not what I am writing to you about today, no. Today I am writing only about you. To say these words; hold on, be strong, be kind to yourself. When you find yourself in tears, and unable to get out of bed, do not feel as though you have failed. Showing weakness is not a bad thing, it is acknowledging that you have reached your limit and need to rest. And if laying in bed is what helps you, then do that, and when you are ready to get out of bed you can shout “I SURVIVED!” and be proud. I promise you that it will not always be this bad, the capacity to feel such pain is only a sign that you are also able to feel types of joy you can not yet understand. The best advice I can honestly give you is to remember this: it will not last forever. As much as it may hurt sometimes, and as scared as you may be, you can come out the other side if you can only hold on. You are not alone. If you do not take anything else from that, just remember, you are not alone.”
I remember so many moments that were giant red flags, moments that the people around me just did not have the tools to recognize (neither did I) were signs of clinical depression and a real issue going on. I am so thankful that when I finally hit a crushing moment (a 4.5 year relationship ending) that I asked for real help, and was able to find a medication that worked for me. I also had a few best friends (M.K.+S.P.+K.H. all in specific) that would weather the storm with me all the way through to me being balanced and healthy. I am lucky to be where I am, and have the people in my life that I do. Hope is a strong weapon to have on your side, with hope you can survive a lot more than you might expect. And even if you feel hopeless just remember that there are others out in the world you can turn to (myself included).
I am going to share with you all some links now that I find to be incredibly valuable, if ever you or someone you know may need them. Because it never hurts to talk to someone, it can save lives. And above all else, if you or someone you know needs help, I beg you to get to a doctor. It is a long and hard road, but they can help you get what you need, if like me that happens to be medication, or just to talk to someone who understands.
But please never be afraid to ask for help. “You ain’t gotta go through nothin’ alone” – POS, a rapper favorite of mine.
http://www.suicideprevention.ca/in-crisis-now/find-a-crisis-centre-now/ Canadian suicide prevention, locations of crisis centers
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ an online chat source for crisis times (any region)
http://www.suicide.org/hotlines/international/canada-suicide-hotlines.html and a few more Canadian specific numbers