Tag Archive: Suicide


Drowning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t breathe,
I feel like I’m drowning,
I’m suffocating,
My chest is being crushed and squeezed,
I can’t sleep,
My pulse races,
As my heart rapidly beats and bleeds,
I’m paralyzed and numb,
Haunted by memories and by me.
I just want to close my eyes.
and rest in peace.
I’m not as strong as I once was.

“I didn’t want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.”
― Ned Vizzini

Lately I’ve been struggling a lot and not sure what direction I should go. I feel lost, broken and completely alone. I feel myself withdrawing and pulling away from people and getting lost in my own head more and more. I know this partly because I’m already tired of the therapy and medication that doesn’t really work. My therapist says I need to just be patient, but I’m tired of constantly trying to be okay, it’s exhausting pretending everything is fine. My therapist says, I’m too hard on myself and take on too much responsibility. I blame myself for things I shouldn’t and typically see the worse in myself, whereas I always try to see the best in others. But I can’t help it, I just don’t like myself very much. All I do is think about how badly I screwed things up with my honesty.

I know the so-called ‘psychologically depressed’ person who tries to kill themselves doesn’t do so out of ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life isn’t fair, or out of selfishness and surely not because death seems appealing. Which I’ve come to realize is a major misconception about people who struggle with this invisible agony and when it reaches a certain unendurable level will kill themselves. Think of it like this, you’re in a high-rise building that’s on fire. The flames are slowly encroaching on you, the heat and smoke are becoming nearly unbearable and you jump out the window. The terror of falling to your death is terrifying and very different from you or me, standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames and the smoke: when the flames get close enough and the smoke making it harder and harder to breathe, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ or ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror that’s way beyond that of falling.

When I told my therapist about my suicide attempts, she asked me if I really wanted to die, and I responded,
“No one commits suicide because they want to die.”
“Then why do they do it?” She asked.
“Because they want to stop the pain,” I explained.
For me, it’s always been this weird back and forth. As I said in an earlier entry, I grew up in a mostly Christian household. I prayed for God’s grace and salvation for years. My faith in God never wavered, it didn’t matter how many times my mom would beat and ridicule me, how often my brother would mock and make fun of me while my mother laughed and laughed, encouraging him to dig at me harder and harder. Punishing me every time I tried make fun of him in return, or to say something hurtful to him. My goal wasn’t to hurt him, but only to show him how it feels. But no one else would see that and I would get beaten and grounded for standing up to him, or for fighting back. While he would parade in front of me, laughing as I got beaten. Even when I would go to school and get harassed and bullied almost daily. I held firm to this faith, that there was this just, loving, compassionate God up there, who knew what he was doing, so I put my trust in my faith.

No matter how hard things had gotten, I believed that it was all according to God’s plan. Sometimes I thought God was preparing me, strengthening me to make me a hero just like the tales of Joshua, or Samson, or Moses. Other times I convinced myself that God was testing my resolve, my faith. So I stayed strong, I endured, until I couldn’t anymore, until I broke.

There’s only so much pain, heartache and loneliness a person can take, and I’ve been lonely most of my life. It’s hard, it hurts and make you feel like you’ve being hollowed out. Several Christians have told me over the years that I need to crave companionship with God first and foremost. But where was God all those nights I spent crying myself to sleep, afraid to go home because it would mean I would have to deal with my mother, afraid of going to school, because I didn’t want to walk the halls and get harassed, ridiculed, or made fun of, or just made to feel like an outcast. Where was god when I was praying night after night for my mother to love me, or when I was begging God to give me just one good day, just one where I didn’t feel beaten down, where I didn’t get attacked just for existing. Where was he when thoughts of suicide slowly began seeping into my thoughts. When I stopped seeing myself in a mirror and only saw everything wrong with me staring back.

I don’t know if there’s a God or not, I don’t know which faith is the correct one, even in Christianity there’s so many other fractions, Catholics, Baptist, Pentecostal. Etc. How does one ever even decide? Who is right or does being right even matter?

The only thing I know for certain, is that people need to just stop being so ugly to each other, because at the end of the day, no one really knows what happens when we go. In all honesty, who really cares about one’s religion, when no one really knows if their faith is right or not. Because that’s faith, believing in something even when you have no proof or evidence to prove it, it’s just believing that there’s out there greater than yourself. Which I understand the importance of, I know it can be a good thing to have faith, especially if having faith, makes you a happier and a better person. Which I think should be of more importance to all faiths, the focus should be on spreading more good will in the world, leaving it a better place for when you go. Because all things die and fade with time, the hate people give, has a lasting negative impact on the world and it spreads like cancer. Being kind to someone though, can change a person’s world, maybe even their perspective.

For myself, I’ve always tried doing the right thing, even when it meant risking losing the very thing I wanted most or sacrificing my own happiness. Which hasn’t always been easy and as often been decisions I have grappled and wrestled with, hoping I was making the right decision in the end. Many of these past choices I have regretted and had wished I would have put myself first or been a little more selfish. But being selfish has never really been in my character. I’m not saying that to humble brag or any of the sort. My selflessness was something that grew from me watching my mother and knowing my step-mother. I saw firsthand the damage being selfish causes those around you and how it affects an individual, how it ages and how it damages you. I’m not saying you or anyone shouldn’t ever be selfish, I’ve learned that sometimes being a little selfish for the right reasons can be a good thing. You deserve to be happy too and should always fight what you want. But just don’t get carried away and just ask yourself, “Is this something I really need?” Sometimes at least for me, it’s often been more fun to share and having someone to celebrate with. I know now that it’s okay to be a selfish and put myself first, just as I’ve learned its okay to say no and to walk away from those who hurt you. Unfortunately, I’ve learned those lessons a little bit too late. But I still find myself at war with myself, between choosing something for myself, or what I want, or letting someone else take the win.


I taught myself forgiveness, even when forgiving was far from easy. But I’ve learned early on that when you forgive someone, you have no right to throw the past back at them. I’ve learned from experience how that can feel and makes you feel, I’ve learned it from my mother. Who would often bring up my past mistakes to accuse me of wrong doing in the present and for me it felt like I couldn’t escape my past mistakes. That no matter how hard I tried to change and better myself that it wasn’t good enough and I’d always been that person they either want me to be or that they hate without any just cause or reason.

Despite my upbringing and the bullies who hunted me in school, I was born with this kind and gentle heart. Which I often find myself hating, wishing more than anything I could make myself numb to some of the hurt. Wishing there was some way I could stop myself from seeing the best in people. I tend to see the potential in those around me and I long to see the good in them, which has sometimes caused me to be taken advantage of, which is a problem which also sucks.

Worse is I’ve always had a generous and giving nature, which has been magnified by my C-ptsd, but this part of me was initially born from me trying to distance myself as much as possible from my mother, because I saw how her selfishness affected her and those around her. I never wanted to be blinded by jealously and believe it’s what I’m owed for some clandestine reason. I like earning my keep and my share. I was partly inspired by my father whom I witnessed frequently loaning friends and family money, when I asked him why he always did this, because he’d seldom get paid back. He said,


“Yeah, it sucks a little bit when I don’t get paid back, but it feels worse feeling like I could have helped someone but didn’t. I know I’ll probably never be rich and I don’t think I ever want to be. I like to give when I can and hope for the best.”


When I heard this, I made this vow to give whenever the need was great, to put others before myself and this was also because I partly wanted to have a positive effect on the world. Then without even realizing it, I found myself getting more joy out of helping others than I have ever gotten from helping myself. I often felt guilty the few times I chose to put myself first, the times I chose to be selfish even though I know now it’s okay and perfectly acceptable to be a little selfish sometimes. But, it doesn’t make it any less difficult, or less of a struggle. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wrestled with a decision, wondering if the choice I made, or plan to make is the right one, or if I’m making a choice for the right reasons or not.

In all honesty I often feel like I’m at war with myself, with these voices in the back of my mind. My depression telling me how worthless I am, that I’m a burden to the world around me. My anxiety tells me I’m annoying and every choice I ever make is the wrong one and only annoy and hurt those around me, telling me I should just go away and let myself be forgotten. My heart is just tired of hurting, it used to be overflowing with hope, believing if I just stood my ground that things would get better, that it has too. But as times goes on, my heart just hurts, and it becomes filled with sorrow and pain and wanting it to just end.

Then I have this weird, defiant, stubborn voice that tells the other voices to shut the hell up and that I have to fight for thing things I want and never give up. To keep going, to keep getting back up no matter how many times I get knocked down, to keep trying. But it’s hard and it’s the hardest thing I ever have to do. Every day I have to make this choice to keep going and not end my life. When I was a kid, I would think of these arbitrary reasons to live. Like “I have to live just long enough to see this movie,” Or “Play that video game,” or “Go on this trip,” Etc. I was grasping at straws, trying to find a more solid reason to keep going.

It’s almost kind of funny, how a lot of people see me as an optimist and will comment on my positivity. When in truth, I’m just trying to make the most of every situation I find myself in. I have to try and force myself to have fun and enjoy myself as much as possible, because a part of me believes that when we die, we can only take the memories we make with us and I want to take as many good memories as I can. With the hope that maybe, when I die, I get to relive my favorite memories as often as I want. I can stay in those moments where I was my happiness, when I felt like I was at my best. For me it’s important to make the most of the time we have now and I’ve been learning to take more chances, to live in the moment. It can be exciting and life changing, as well as it can be heartbreaking. But I can at least look back and say “I tried, I took a risk, I gambled and I tried.”

So that’s all I can promise to do these days.
I’m trying.
Josh. C

Saving me from…me.

“I didn’t want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.”

― Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind of a Funny Story

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Have you ever just felt like you don’t know what’s going on anymore? Like you don’t care about anything anymore, like you’ve lost your motivations to do just about anything and you’re confused about your feelings and you can’t explain how you feel. You have that feeling of emptiness and the feeling that no one is there for you. That feeling that no one understands you anymore. And it seems like there’s nothing to look forward to anymore?
Yeah I get those feelings too.

I recently suffered a bit of a breakdown, where everything just suddenly got to me. Normally I can maintain a pretty good hold on my depression, almost to the point where I half convince myself that I’m cured. However recently, I found myself on a downward spiral. Unable to pick myself up, feeling lost, broken, betrayed and like a burden on my friends and family. Added with the special topping of stress at work, bills, getting in a car wreck on 10/02/14 which really kind a ruined my weekend. Then of course there’s that hurt, those missing pieces in my heart in the form of my mother as I wonder why she did all the things she’s done. I won’t lie, I don’t miss many of my mom’s family, but I do miss my brothers, even my older brother, in fact I miss them every day.

 

So I fell and it was out of desperation that I reached out via facebook asking for prayers, for support. Because in truth, I was a hair’s breadth away from taking my own life, to me, living just felt too painful. I felt like I was trapped in a burning building, with the flames slowly encroaching on me, making it unbearable, and driving me ever closer to that moment where I was honestly thinking that my best option was to jump, because at least then it’d be over.
It took me awhile to read over all the messages and comments people had sent me, offering me their shoulders to cry on and a friendly ear to listen to whatever it was weighing on my soul so heavily. IT helped. Talking with my dad helped a bit more. Going to church and being prayed for by the entire congregation as they all took turns embracing me helped even more. But I’m still trying to build myself back up, so I’m hoping that writing and telling you about it will help. Because truth is life can be a little hard sometimes.large
Truth is, sorrow, despair, loneliness, suicide, are all words we don’t mention in public. These feelings we keep firmly locked away, we dare not discuss. …Though their currents run through us all, in varying ebbs and flows throughout the course of one’s life. Just as hope, passion, happiness and love all run together as well. I believe it doesn’t make us weaker to admit these lulls. As someone once said,
“Acceptance is the first step towards happiness.” Once you’ve leapt off that metaphorical
bridge, when you’ve reached the darkest depths of your inner ocean, just remember to keep kicking for the light at the surface and that’s what I’m trying to do. But sometimes we don’t’ have to jump at all; we just need to learn how to swim.

So if you want to know what depression is like, it’s like feeling like something inside of you if missing, or broken, you feel alone. My chest feels tighter and constricts, like a huge weight is pressing down oppressively on me, making it harder and harder for me to breathe. It’s like I’m trying to swim and keep my head above water while an anchor is tired to my feet and I just can’t catch my breath and I’m slowly losing strength. I don’t feel real, I don’t feel like I matter, that I’m not really living, like I’m just going through the motions.

I hate depression.
I hate those pity parties people throw whenever they have a dry spell, or go through a breakup, or experience one minor hiccup in an otherwise blessed life and then go on facebook, or twitter, or lamenting to their friends how “They’re so depressed.” When they’re not, they’re really not and it always comes off as “Hey look at me! Give me attention, I’m a little sad,” And this sucks for those of us who are really struggling, which causes people to tell us to nut up, man up, shut up and get over it. I admit, some people do want to throw a pity party for themselves, while the rest of us…we’re barely holding on and just want to crumble at someone’s feet as curl into a ball and just cry.

The pity parties make it harder for those of us who are really suffering to speak out. Because we fear those pity parties, we’re afraid you’ll think we’re just attention starved and we’ll get the same frustrated and annoyed responses those people sometimes get. So I kept my mouth shut, my head down, and I kept doing my best to just limp along. Sometimes, we withdraw and pull away from others, because we’re so consumed with the struggle, which often leads to suicidal thoughts or tendencies, which build and build, often leaving it to our friends and loved ones to pull us kicking and screaming back out into the light.

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I hate when people joke about depression or suicide, it’s not really something to be taken lightly or to joke about and makes it harder to notice those who are crying out for help, the ones who need it the most.
Yeah having your heart broken sucks, but it’s hardly as debilitating as constantly thinking, or wanting you life to end, because you just feel miserable and alone. It’s more like you’ve forgotten your smile somewhere and no matter what you do, you just can’t find it, so you wear a false one and tell everyone you’re fine, when you’re really not.
Many of my long time readers and friends may remember when I spoke about trying to take my own life. But I survived and I half convinced myself that I survived for a reason, there had to be reason didn’t there? Doesn’t there have to be a reason? And in a strange way these questions I ask myself help keep me going. Maybe I’ll write something world changing that’ll spark that positive change we so desperately need into today’s world. Because I’ve always been a survivor and it helps to sometimes think that there is a plan for me, that I wasn’t this monumental, cosmic accident my mother and my depression lead me to believe. But still, it doesn’t make living any easier. I struggle and strain against the ores every day, searching for a reason to smile, looking for that connection, to feel loved and accepted. I do this every day and it does help whenever I’m in a relationship and find little texts on my phone letting me know she was thinking about me, or just to say hello.
So this is my voice and there may be many like it, but this one is mine and these are my words, and this time it’s for the mothers and daughters, the fathers, sons and friend and the sons of sons. We all have our own private battles we’re raging against, currents we’re struggling with, and loss we’re trying to come to terms with. Believe me, we’re trying to heal, but the healing leaves scars, scars on our hearts, minds and souls, wounds you’ll never see and we’re always too terrified to show.
The bullies and those like them have spent their life telling me I was and am a failure.
So time and again I wrapped my heart in a cast and I sign it, “They were wrong! Because they had to be wrong,”

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My name is Joshua Cooper. I suffer from depression. It’s an ongoing process until I find peace. There are days when I think I’ll be okay, that everything will be alright, when I busy myself with my writing, or reading to help pass the time, when I’m surrounded by loving friends and family, when we’re all together and having fun. I find the secret to staying alive is staying busy. Going to the gym and doing my best to stay healthy, going on long runs to help clear my head. Having faith also helps and gives me someone to talk to for when it all feels to be crashing down around me. But still what works best is having good friends and family around, having good times, sharing in the laughter, the celebration and love of those closest to us. You see, love, laughter and good company are all enemies of depression.
One of the things I hate the most about depression, is how eventually most everybody at one point or another says, “I’ve had bad things happen to me too, get over it.”
Get over it.
Seriously, get over it? Like I somehow could just let go of all that pain, the fear, the rejection, the doubt, and just forget about it. Because believe me, if it were that easy, I would. I would open my hands and just let go. There is no just getting over it and we need something more than some advice you read one time off the back of a cereal box. What we need is to not feel alone, to be validated and have someone just hug us, to hold and say “Yeah, that sucks, I’m so sorry, but I still love and care about you.”
I hate when people think the thought of letting go and forgetting hadn’t occurred to me before, or realize I’ve been fighting tooth and nail just keep my heads above water. You just can’t compare your life to mine and say, “get over it,” or “stop it,” like the cure for depression can be found in the contents of a first aid kit, because trust me, I’ve looked, it’s not there.
Depression
I hate when others feel the need to compare their lives to mine and attempt to tell me how they were depressed, or sometimes get depressed and tell you how they pushed on, like it’s somehow meant to make me feel better. You can’t compare one life to another, you will never know the injustices I or anyone else has suffered, every situation is different, every battle personal, we are not legion, we are one. I am one, I am an individual, and my pain is real, not made up and not in my head. It’s mine, there’s so much I didn’t tell, so much I’ve never told. Things I struggle to tell people, because what happened to me feels unbelievable and I still hurt because of it. This loss, this pain, can’t be compartmentalized or filed away and when I sit down and tell you these things you’ll only ever be the outsider looking in. It’s like breaking a bone and having someone who’s never had a broken bone in their life telling you to just breathe and telling you it can’t hurt as badly as you’re making it out to be and comparing it to the time when they stubbed their toe. It’s not all relative, it’s not trying to recover from a broken heart, which I admit, that alone cuts deep and becomes a soul hurt. But having your heartbroken is more like a beautiful sadness that inspires poetry, growth, music and teaches us compassion. Everyone suffers from broken heart at least once and it should make you feel more alive because there was something in this life that actually made you feel this hurt.
For me, my depression began when I was still just a kid, it was shortly after my parents got a divorce and it didn’t take long for the hurt to begin. My mom would always go on and on, telling me that my dad didn’t really love or even want me, that he was just trying to win my affection so when I grew of age, I would choose to live with him instead of with her. All so that he could get out child support, and then he would always tell me the same thing about her. As a child, it wore on me, and in the end, it was my mother who was proven wrong, as it it was my father’s words which rang true, which still hurt. (To my dad’s credit, he did stop telling me these things about my mother when I told him how it was tearing me apart and explained she was always saying the same about him)
Worse I grew up with buckteeth, greasy, messy hair, warts, failing eyesight and a bad speech impediment. So school was bad enough and almost every day I would get teased and made fun of. But worse was coming home and having my older brother teasing me even more about my teeth, my speech and the warts on my left hand while mom would sit and laugh, while forbidding me to ever say anything in return, daring me to get upset. I would always try to ignore him at first, but he would never stop and I would eventually feel like a stick of TNT lit from both ends, so I would explode. I would say every hurtful thing that came to my lips, in attempt to show him just how much words could hurt. Of course I would always get in trouble, beaten and then grounded. I hated growing up in that house.
I hated family gatherings too, because like clockwork they too would always find something to tease me over, usually it was my speech, other times it would be looks, or how my eye would sometimes twitch whenever I ate, unless I really focused and concentrated on not doing it, (The result of one of my numerous beatings I received, sometimes by the hot wheels racetrack which forever altered my Christmas list, making me ask for more Nerf Toys) but some members of my family made my life a living hell with all their teasing. Of course whenever I would get visibly hurt, or upset, they would say that old stupid rhyme about sticks and stones, as if a broken bone would hurt more than names I was being called, unaware that I would be called them all, all the time, every day. . At home, at school, around and with them.

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So I grew up believing that no one would ever fall in love with me, that I’d be alone forever, and would never feel like the sun was something someone had built for me in a tool shed. An ingrown life it seems is something that even the best surgeons can’t cutaway. Of course it never mattered how mad or upset I would get, they would all just laugh and tell me how I was being too sensitive, that it was all out of good fun, that they were only teasing. But there’s a fine line between harmless teasing and being just toxic and making me ganged up on.
One of the worst feelings in the world is that of everyone ganging up on you, watching you, laughing at you and feeling like you’re on your own. My own family made me feel like a broken branch grafted on a different family tree and would often wonder why I was struggling with depression and why so often I never felt like I belonged.
So I withdrew, I spoke less and less. I disappeared into books, my toys and video games and words, creating my own stories, because there, no one could make fun of me and I couldn’t see everyone smirking as they all sat and stared, trying to make me say, or do something they could all laugh at. I was eight years old, and I felt like a joke. But back then, I never knew what depression was, or that was something I had, but that’s when it started to fester and grow, when I started praying for death.
I would often wonder if anyone really loved or cared about me, since they would all treat me so poorly and always tell me how they loved me. . How can you believe in love when those who are always claiming to love you are always tearing you down and making you feel worthless, like you’re less than nothing and that your feelings don’t matter?
I hated my life, I hated my bad eyesight, the nose they mocked and ridiculed, I hated all the words I couldn’t say, wondering why no one could just let it go and leave me be, to let me be and let my words be just words and not another opportunity to make me practice and repeat until I got the pronunciation right. Which would be fine one on one, or in private, but having everyone crowd around you mocking you as you try and fail is a bit stress inducing. I mean didn’t they see I was struggling, spending years in speech therapy and spending hours and hours practicing how to roll my Rs and curl my tongue. It wasn’t my fault my mouth garbled all the words I was trying to say.

Public school, taught me that kids could be cruel. I’m not really sure about what grade I was in when the school halls became a battleground, where I found myself outnumbered day after retched day. practicing being invisible, giving no clues I was ever there, becoming like a ghost who roamed the school halls with my head down and doing my best to just shrink away and not be seen, staying inside for recess, because outside was worse. All I wanted was to fit in and to be accepted, to make everyone my friend, but only a few accepted.

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No one understood I was juggling loneliness and depression while walking a tightrope with a noose around my neck, trying to dodge every cruel jibe and School soon became a game of just trying to get out alive….
For those of you who don’t know what it’s like living with depression, let me just say it’s like having this demon, this thing on your back that’s always there whispering things like,
“No one really likes you,”
“You’ll be alone and lonely forever,”
“Why are you even wasting your time talking to this girl, you know she’ll never like you,”
“You’re ugly,”
“You’re dumb,”

“You’re weak!”
“Everyone’s laughing at you,”
Sometimes it’s soft, and almost like a whisper in the back of your mind, and sometimes it shouting and screaming,
“You’ll always be weak and never accomplish anything, so why bother?”
“Hey listen, you’re a burden on everyone around you, you should just kill yourself.”
“Do you know no one will care if you die?”
“Your own mother didn’t even love you, so why would anyone else?”
“You’re just a big joke and everyone is making fun of you behind your back, you’d be better off dead.”
“You’re a loser, you’re stupid, and you’re nothing.” These are all the things that go through the head of someone with depression.

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But I fight it and you have to fight it too, you have to believe that things will get better. Because depression….it’s a lie and that’s all it does, it lies to you and it will try its damnedest to make you feel like it’s the truth.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is this, I’m still here, fighting the good fight, for these memories and others like them stem from giving away my todays and having no tomorrows. I love fully, forgive completely, speak softly, I’m slow to anger and above all else, I’m myself. Sometimes it does get hard for me, the bills, friendships, relationships, loneliness, the loss, pain, betrayal’s disappointments and the despair. With the worse knowing that most of my friends or family will never understand how desperate I am to have someone say, I love you and support you just the way you are, because you’re wonderful just the way you are. Most people don’t understand that I can’t remember anyone ever saying that to me. I can be so demanding and difficult for my friends because sometimes I just want to crumble and fall apart before them. Wanting them to love and want to be around me, even though I am no fun, lying in bed, feeling broken and alone, not moving.

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My flags are traffic lights, and at night it glows red, amber and green, and I’ve seen them everywhere. So I guess in that sense, the road really is my home. And I’ve got story after story of what it’s like to miss a home-cooked meal, of what it’s like to wake up and feel that absence in your life.
Some days collapse on me like the night. I can tell I haven’t slept when a light peaks through the blinds and finds me with my eyes wide open, hoping I can take all these poems and stories I printed on post-it notes, fold them into tiny boats then launch them towards the shores past your defenses, taking root in your sea of your emotions, and to colonize in the chambers of your heart.
Because the days are getting better.
It helps to talk about it. To get it out, it’s like a pressure release but inside you.
I’m still looking for that person, whose kisses make me feel like I’m home and who’s there for me even when the days get bad and who’ll give me the sun that lives in their smile. I’m a hopeful, wistful, depressed, romantic, geeky, but athletic insomniac, that’s optimistic about tomorrow, looking for whatever reason to smile, even if it means I have to walk another mile. So listen to me when I say, you’re not alone, and remember it pays to talk about it and it’s okay to cry.

You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”-Robin Williams

I’ve always been very candid abrobin-williams7878out my bouts with depression, which I believe is something that never really goes away, at least not completely. For me, it has always been an ongoing battle, where like everything else there are good days, bad days, then the really bad days and the even worse days, which are the ones you have to really look out for. Because when you’ve battled depression and suicidal thoughts as much as I have, you become all too aware just how easy one can off themselves. I can’t tell you how many times I thought about it, or been tempted.

I don’t take any medication for my depression, simply because I don’t like the person it makes me, and it just feels like my head is a fog and I find myself becoming less imaginative more restless and lethargic, numb.

I battle my depression by staying active, working out helps a lot; it’s hard to think about killing yourself when you’re feeling sore and tired along with that natural high that comes with a good workout. Having good friends to lean on or to share a few good laughs with also helps, but you have to be sure that they’re the right friends, not the ones who want you around just when it’s convenient, or for what you can do for them, but the ones who just want to hang out for the pleasure of your company.  Family can help too, but most of all I just find solace and peace in keeping myself busy, because it’s only when my mind has a chance to wonder do those dark thoughts come creeping in. So I read, I write, I play video games, or if it’s nice I go hiking or out for a run and sometimes I just dust off my old bike, and then go out for a spin. As you may or may not know, it’s the quiet moments, when you’re alone and with nothing to do but think that causes problems. I’m a little self-critical, I think too much and over analyze, which I’m sure may one day be the death of me, but I’m working on it, I’m a work in progress and this is my progress report.   

But what happens when I have a particular rough day, one that leaves me feeling beat up, abused, left out and alone?  What happens when each day becomes worse than the last and it becomes increasingly harder to pick myself back up from the spot where I lay? My method is simple; I just close my eyes and whisper,

“You just have to make it until the day after next, because the day after next will be better.” Then I convince myself that it has to get better and I’ll be honest sometimes it does. But it also helps to remind myself of all the things I have to do that no one else can, even if there’s a chance that no one else will care. Such as finishing my book, and telling the stories of all the characters who have taken up residence up there inside my head, living in the pool of imagination, needing me to breathe life into them by telling their stories through a collection of words, demanding I share their stories with as many people as possible and with the world. Because if I don’t, I know I’ll look up and see all of them gathered around me on my death bed, with some of them sobbing, with some pacing, all asking me the same thing.

“Why didn’t you give us life? We came to you and you let us die and now we’ll be forgotten without ever having lived, why couldn’t you give a chance to live and breathe? We came to you and no one else, we trusted you with our stories, our lives and with our dreams.”
I remind myself I can’t disappoint my characters.
Having faith also helps when it comes to battling depression. Even if you don’t believe in anything, that’s cool (I don’t judge) but it does help, even when it doesn’t. There’s something about talking to God, praying, or seeking communion that I found comforting. For me, the church and a pastor was the first place I could think of going to seek counseling, and that too helped. Then sometimes the only thing that keeps me holding on when all I want to do is let go, is my faith and the fear that I would condemn myself to an eternity in hell. Yet even still there had been times when I thought that God owed me one after everything I had to endure. Losing a family to lies and greed, growing up in a broken home, being forsaken by very own brother that I was just beginning to get to know and who was becoming my best friend and someone I could confide in.

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I hate it when people compare their lives to mine, especially when they’ve always got to go home to two loving parents and compare having a bad day to a broken life. In truth, no one really knows your battles but you, same with how no one knows what it was like but me. But honestly I don’t really like talking about it, but I know I should and probably need to, so open my mouth and begin to speak. So I try not to judge when someone begins telling me about their problems, or struggles, I just do my best to sit there and listen, sometimes lending a comforting hug, and maybe just say,

“I can relate,” So that they don’t feel so alone and I hear them out, letting them talk, sometimes it helps just having someone there to listen and not judge their pain or suffering, or compare it to my own. For each battle is a little different from someone else’s. Each struggle is personal, and we deal with it in our little ways.

Never tell a person with depression to just get over it.

If you really want to help, just be there for them. That’s all it really takes really. Make them feel loved and appreciated and whatever you do, don’t try and force them to talk about it, it’s never easy. It always makes us feel awkward and uncomfortable, like we’re trying to get yours or someone else’s pity, or we think you’re sitting there judging us. It’s always hard to put into words, or to properly articulate what it is we’re going through, what’s on our minds and how difficult the fight is.

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So when we do talk and open up about what it is, don’t trivialize what we’re been through and tell us to get over it, like the contents of a first-aid kid somehow holds the cure for depression. Because it’s hard enough just talking about it and an ingrown life isn’t something surgeons can just cut away with a scalpel and a knife.

Just being there for us is enough and what we really need are reasons to smile and to laugh until it hurts, we don’t need some inspirational quote you’ve read from the back of a cereal box one Sunday morning, and we don’t need to quote passages from the bible, or verses to us. All that ever does is infuriate and frustrate us, more so that you think a few deep or clever words would somehow be a magical string of words that would forever bring us out of our depression and despair that we’ve spent most of our lives fighting. So believe me when I say, it’s not that easy to make go away and if it were that simple we would have found the cure long before you came along, no offense. Sometimes all we really need is a friend, a hug, or something as little as companionship, just being around is usually enough. You don’t have to be clever, or preachy, just be thoughtful.

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If you’re in a relationship and your significant other is struggling, just remind them how much you love and appreciate them. Leave them little love notes, make them dinner, or buy them something meaningful, flowers, chocolates, whatever it is they like, or hobby they’re into. Because it’s the little things we remember and it’s up to you to be the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s you that has to be the one to remember to always shine bright. Because sometimes, we just need to be reminded to remember and it falls to you to make them remember. Love is really all you need.

Robin Williams was a beloved actor and comedian, one my childhood heroes and I never dreamt of him having this struggle with depression, which had driven him to take his own life on August 11th 2014. Which also prompted me into writing this particular entry, so maybe we’ll be able to avoid this kind of tragedy from happening again and to just raise some general awareness on the subject at hand, since many of us struggle and fight this disease privately. Like Robin Williams who once made the world laugh and just listening to or watching his stand-up had pulled me through many a dark day. I honestly feel for him and relate with his struggle that he ended up losing in the end. The problem is that suicide isn’t really all that selfish,(now hear me out before you ready your torches and pitchforks) When someone gives up, they just opt out. They grow tired and weary of feeling like a burden, or like a joke, as though everyone is laughing at us, as opposed to laughing with us. We feel alone and lost, a lot of times we don’t to talk about it, because we feel like we’ll just be a bother. It’s nobody’s fault, you just have to understand how scared we are to talk about it, how weak it makes us feel. So we tend to shutout the rest of the world because we don’t want to be that burden, or to be perceived as if we’re crying out for attention, like all those on twitter or facebook who often moan and whine about being depressed because maybe they’re going through a breakup, or quite literally just want attention.
The real tragedy in suicide, is when it happens, these people will never know how many people loved and cared for them, for you. You matter and people do care…People do love you even if it’s hard to see, or even feel. Depression is the real enemy, it likes to lie to us and has the tendency to blind us to that fact and more often than not it convinces us that we’re unloved, uncared for, forgotten children of God’s grace. Depression wins by convincing us that we’re burdens when we’re not. Even I, after all this time, knowing this, still struggle with this one little fact.GkOeeLU

But every set back, disappointment and heartbreak has the tendency of pushing me slightly closer to the edge or back to where I was. So sometimes I feel myself struggling at the oars to fight and push my darkness my back. But it’s still there even when things are going well, however the better things are going the quieter that little voice in the back of my head becomes and it gets easier to push it back. So I keep trying to pick up the broken pieces of myself and like Humpty Dumpty I attempt to put myself back together again. It’s a long, arduous task and I’ve grown to except that some pieces of myself will never fit, or have gotten lost, or stolen during a very long and unforgiving life. This is because, I still wonder why my mother never loved or accepted me, and I find myself missing the three brothers I never get to see again, none of which will ever see or understand the truth. I never got to see my younger brothers grow up, or to be the older brother I always wanted to be, but I was around them enough to love them with all my heart. I hate the fact I didn’t spend more time with them when I had the chance, I really dug being an older brother.

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Being single doesn’t help much either and after a while seeing and hearing about all these happy couples being together tends to sometime wear on my soul, leaving me wonder if I’ll ever find that one person who makes me feel like the sun was something she made for me in a toolshed.

So at nights, when I can’t sleep and I’m alone with my thoughts, I find myself walking a tightrope, wondering what it’s all for and why it is I’m still here.

I don’t own a gun, because sometimes the fight and the struggle becomes too hard even for someone like me, who’s aware of what it is I’m suffering from. It’s the days when I’m beaten down, or when a sad song strikes a particular cord with me, or I watch a warming and touching movie about family like in the movie, “Impossible” knowing I’d never know that feeling of a warm loving family unless I meet someone and start one of my own. Then there are times when I find myself looking through old photographs, or when old memories just hit me out of the blue, like a knockout punch at the beginning of the first round.

It scares me knowing if I had a gun and what I would do with it on of these bad days. The temptation of a quick and relatively pain free way out would be too much of a temptation for me to use. So I stay away from the variables that may bring me to my end sooner than expected and I remind myself that I’ve always been a survivor and how I may be that one person in a million who somehow survives, but with serious traumatic injury which would only add to more complications and struggle to my little life.

So yeah, sometimes it’s easier to stay silent then speak the truth. But there are three things that can’t remain long hidden, the sun, the moon and the truth. And the truth was created for the people who want to be a better person. Our strong faith and love will us down the right path.images

Sorrow, despair, loneliness, suicide, these are the words we don’t mention in public. These feelings we keep firmly locked away, we dare not discuss, though their currents run through all of us in varying ebbs and flows throughout the course of life. Just as hope, passion, happiness and love all run together as well. I believe it doesn’t make us weaker to admit these lulls or frailties as someone once said, “Acceptance is the first step toward happiness.”  Don’t fight the flow, but don’t let it drag you under and hold you down either.

A young man sitting alone by the water

Scars of Who We Are Chapter XII

Chapter 12

You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” – Anne Lamott

Senior photo

Senior photo

At eighteen I finally broke down and killed myself, for I had enough. I had just graduated High-school and felt like life had thrown everything including the kitchen sink at me. Even graduating high-school hadn’t felt real to me, or like something I really deserved. I kept expecting word to come down that there had been a mistake and I wasn’t meant or supposed to graduate along with my friends. It felt weird saying goodbye and walking away from all I had known, High-school was something I once hated and feared coming to every morning because of bullies, the pressures of just getting by and the unforgiving social hierarchy. But, it was also the place where I made some of the best friends anyone could possibly meet and it was the place where I had fallen in love for the very first time. Sherry Troy had been the sister of one of my good friends and falling for her was something I had never meant to do. For when we first met that day in the cafeteria I had already knew that her social circle would never approve of me. She was popular, gorgeous, funny and sincere; she was also dating one of my friends. But as life happens, things happen and life changes, because the of them ended up breaking up and her I grew closer, exchanged numbers and started talking on the phone almost every day.

About around that time my mother gave me some real motherly advice, which was,

“Listen, when any girl talks to you as much as this one does, calling you almost every day, it means she really likes you.”

But I couldn’t accept that, she didn’t know Sherry, she didn’t me and good things didn’t usually happen to me. But I was young and just beginning to b4d5878dget schooled in love. Sherry gave me a reason to get up every day, seeing her was like Christmas morning and it gave me strength to face each day. For once I had something to look forward to other than the weekends I got to spend with my dad.

Of course I still remember the day when her sister Jane had approached me in class and told me how her sister was falling hard for me. It had been the happiest day of my life and felt like I had finally been thrown a life preserver and according to Jane my eyes lit up and sparked like the fourth of July, robbing her of her breath as she was taken aback by the purity of my reaction of hearing her news. I couldn’t believe it, I was inspired.

I went home that night and wrote Sherry a poem proclaiming my love for her, playing coy all throughout the day, until we were walking to our busses when I slipped my poem into her hand and walked away smiling like an idiot on parade, felt like I could do anything, the world was mine.

The next morning her other sister Terry approached me that morning, excitedly telling me how much her sister had loved my poem and how no one had ever wrote her a poem before, that she was so happy and excited that she was actually and completely overjoyed. So now I couldn’t wait to see her, I couldn’t wait to tell her how much I loved her, I couldn’t wait to feel her arms wrap around me, to hold her tight, imagining what our lives would be like together, picturing what it would be like to one day proposing to her, getting married and growing old together. (What they don’t tell you about being a hopeless romantic) It wasn’t until lunchtime rolled around that I finally had the time to approach and ask her out, surrounded by her sisters and all of our mutual friends. She answered with a disgusted no, and after hearing all day how much she liked me by all of our friends, so I was dumbstruck, managing a feeble, “What?” And when she repeated her answer I could feel my dreams shattering and falling like rain all around me, my heart felt like it was breaking in two.

Sherry and her sister Terry

Sherry and her sister Terry

“But…my poem…” I mumbled numbly, “Was garbage, so I threw it away,” She replied, making me want to just crawl into a hole somewhere and die. But then came Terry and my friends trying to supportive and reminding her how crazy she was for me. She denied them over a dozen times, each one a blow to my heart, hearing her telling not just me, but everyone how she never liked me and never will. I wanted to beg them to stop, to ask them to stop trying to help me because it had hurt too much.

I ended up spending the rest of my high school career in this on again, off again dance with her, trying to win her heart with every song and there were times where I could have sworn she had the same feelings for me, but whenever we would get close, it was like someone or something would always drive us further apart. It drove me crazy and eventually I gave up on chasing her, I walked away from love.

But on graduation day, her sister Jane sees me and pulls me aside and asked me if I still had feelings for her sister.

I couldn’t bear to speak the truth, I was too afraid to so much as think about her out of fear it’d spark that torch I carried for her and be left feeling like a love struck fool all over again, so I shrugged and said, “I don’t know….”

Taking my hand, she pulled me close then and I could feel her eyes exploring the depths of my own and before I could ask what this was all about she says,

“I have to tell you something, my sister did like you and probably still does, the reason she never said yes, was because of me.”

I could feel my brow furrow, because I didn’t understand, it didn’t make sense to me….she had been one of my closest friends and I couldn’t fathom why she would be sorry, or what she could have done to keep Sherry and me apart, then she said something I never expected to hear, because I had known her for years, she was my friend and confidant.

“I’ve been in love with you for a long time and when I saw that look on your face when I told you how Sherry felt about you, I was jealous and I told her nothing but lie about you. I told her this had all been a game to you, because you only wanted her to make some other girl jealous. I told her you only seemed nice but in reality you were really just a player…And I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have gotten in the way.”

I could feel the earth giving away beneath my feat, I never felt or knew such an act of betrayal even existed in this world. I had no words, I couldn’t speak, and all I could do was turn and walked away. It’s wasn’t until writing this that I realized that I still haven’t spoken to Jane since that day. But still every now and then I can’t help but wonder what my life would have been like if she never intervened.

Sherry Troy and smile that was like the sunrise.

Sherry Troy and smile that was like the sunrise.

I turned away from my friend and walked away from her that day without ever looking, feeling a small twinkling of hope that it wasn’t too late, believing I still had a chance to fix things and maybe, just maybe pick up from where we started. That day I couldn’t stop scanning every face in the hall and the crowd of my graduation ceremony, hoping to find her face someone among the countless faces, to see her staring back at me. Imagining what I would do when I saw her and having this little fantasy that I would see her, walk up to her and pull her away from whoever she may have been talking to, pulling her against me as I leaned down to kiss her lips of soft velvet.

I never did find her and I was too distracted to join in the excitement of celebrating of finally graduating from High-school, I was somewhere else while my friends were busy living in the moment. But I was too busy thinking about her, anxious to get home to call her and to just hear the sound of her voice. But when I finally got around to calling her no one was home and so I took off and went to my best friend’s graduation party hoping she’ll be there, but she wasn’t.

Days go by and I can’t seem to ever seem to get a hold of her, or catch anyone to just tell her that I called.  Eventually, one day her mom answers and she tells me that Sherry had moved out a few days ago and was now living with some boy she had just met. I don’t remember hanging up the phone, just the feeling of my heart breaking and the pieces falling down all around my feet.  I feel defeated and numb, I was given hope and it was in was torn away from me in one fell swoop. Shell shocked I wondered out of my room, hoping to find some reason to keep believing….to believe in something, anything, wanting to find some purpose and maybe a little hope. But my mother found me instead and asked why I was moping around. For once, I decided to just talk to her and tell her everything, hoping that I’d receive some of that age old motherly advice, or receive a little of that love that always seemed so out of reach. Instead she interrupted me before I could say but two words and said,

“I don’t care, you’re just stupid, pathetic loser and I can’t stand you, I never could and the worse thing is that I never wanted you. You’re nothing but a stupid mistake and if it wasn’t for your father I would have never birthed you, I wanted an abortion and he’s the only reason you’re still here because he wanted you. You were the accident that was never supposed to be and I think you would have been better off dead, because no one will ever love or want a pathetic, weak loser like yourself. “

She turned and walked away from me then, striding toward her craft room, mumbling about how much she resented me and I hear her tell say with my own ears that the only reason she put up with me for so long was for the child support and the money. I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t want to. My father had been right all along, it’s exactly what he’d been trying to warn me about for years, but I never listened and now I could feel what remained of my already broken heart shatter into a million little pieces.  Leaving it so broken that they could now pass seamlessly through the eye of a needle, I was broken, in every sense of the word and I couldn’t move. Not at first anyway. All I could do was watch disappear into her little craft room, expecting at any moment for her to pop back out and tell me this was all some sort of twisted and cruel joke, I didn’t want to think she was serious. But after several minutes of just standing there speechless with my mind reeling. I hear every 18 minutes someone commits suicide and ever forty seconds, someone attempts one. And I was about to become another statistic.forsaken

In that moment I lost my faith, I hated God. I couldn’t fathom why he would make this woman my mother and never allow me any real happiness. I had been hopeful my entire life, wanting and trying to believe that things would get better, believing that they had to. But my battles were too numerous, too long and hard and I was tired. Immediately I turned and headed upstairs, grabbing a few prescription pill bottles my mother had kept in our medicine cabinet. I’m not sure what all I took, but I took seven or eight pills from every bottle that read “Only take 1 every 12 hours,” And “Do not mix with other medication” Then not wanting to risk anyone seeing what I was up to, or trying to stop me, I shoved the pills down into my pocket. This was my decision and my choice and I wasn’t going to give anyone a chance to stop or delay me.

With a bottle of Vicodin that I had left over from my wisdom teeth surgery,  along with the various other pills that I had stuffed down into my pockets. Then I took one final look at my reflection in the mirror and waved goodbye to the person I used to be, the person I used to know.

Returning to my room, I closed and locked my door, filled my cd player with my favorite cds and took a bottle of prescription sleeping pills, along with about 3/4

I wrote a single sentence on my desk’s notepad, “This is my goodbye, I’ve waited too long, I’m not worth anything, and tell dad I’m sorry.”

It didn’t take long for the room to start to spin and for the shortness of breath to begin and I fell onto my bed, crawling up onto the sheets feeling so cold as my body went numb, feeling pins and needles all over body, I felt like I was suffocating, struggling to breathe and it was then my world went black.

At first darkness was all I could see and feel. I was relieved, because I was finally free from all the pain and loneliness that plagued me for long. No longer did I feel all the pain that was tearing my heart apart, it was over and death wasn’t so bad I thought, I felt a strange sense of comfort in darkness that coiled and wrapped around me. I was a little disappointed though, I was hoping to find myself before God and demand an explanation, an apology for all that been wrong. But I didn’t and I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, or loved ones who had already passed over. Instead I found myself in a world surrounded by darkness and for a moment it was soothing and a little peaceful. But then I felt this jerk and then I had this sense like I was falling. I was falling faster and faster,  feeling what felt like cool air rushing up to greet me as I plummeted downward, feeling the air grow and become warm, then hot as it rushed over me. The realization of what I have done hit me then. I had committed a cardinal sin, I had committed suicide, I wasn’t going to get my trial, I wasn’t going to able to curse at the God who made me and let me cry so many tears. I wasn’t going to get answers and I would never learn why or the reasons for any of it, I was going straight to hell.

In my fear I cried out to God and it was then I felt descent slow and the heat dispel, until when I was once again just floating there in the inky blackness and I felt like was being watched and I sensed this profound sadness in the air around me, before I felt what I can only describe was warm comforting arms wrapping around me, pulling me close and lifting me up. I have no words for the feelings that washed over me. The love I felt was overpowering and I felt like a child in the warm, loving arms a loved one, of a father who was holding me close. I began to cry as I heard the voice apologizing for the struggles I’ve had, that despite what I had done, he was still proud of me, but telling me not to lose hope and that I had to stay, I had to go back, asking me to stay strong, to have faith and to live, to really live, that I’d go on to do great things in time.

But I didn’t want to, I wanted to stay in this place that I was, I clung to the father, pleading to stay and I saw the faces of my father, my grandmother, my friends and all of those who would miss me. It made me sad, but still I didn’t want to go, I was happy here and now, in this warmth.

So he showed me something else instead, he showed me myself, decades later, living a life where I’m happy, with my dreams finally coming true and I see the world waking up and finally beginning to read again, I see a family, a loving wife.

Without really thinking I feel myself letting go and I’m blinded by this sudden light that seemed to appear out of nowhere and when I look around, I discover I’m outside and I’m flying, miles above the earth, the view is breathtaking. But I’m actually was falling, down through sky, past the clouds, with the world rushing up to greet me, the air is cool against my skin and comforting as it rushes through my hair. I see my house, coming into view and I’m falling faster. I’m not afraid, but I bring my arms up protectively around me as I fall into the roof, passing insubstantiality through the shingles and support beams of my house.  I Falling through the kitchen where my mother had started making dinner and I can smell macaroni and cheese from the pot on the stove, before I pass through the floor to where I saw myself, laying so still and alone on my bed, where I crash with a jolt into my body.

I sat up just as I reunited with my body, taking a sharp intake of breath as I rose up off the bed, it hurts to breathe, yet I’m gasping for breath. I’m cold and my body burns as blood rushes back through my limbs, giving me a feeling pin and needles, that you often get when a part of your body falls asleep. But mine was all over and then I crawled out of bed, where I collapsed on the floor and passed out once more.

I firmly believe that I died this day; but you may have come to your own conclusion. But this is what happened to me and when I woke up, I felt okay, even though I knew my the worse was far from over, instinctively I knew would be leaving Grant County and saying goodbye to all my friends until the day came when we would meet again. But I knew whatever came and no matter how things would turn out, I would survive it. I may have died a coward, a scared and frightened little boy, but I was born again and in so doing became a man.

Closing note: a few years ago thanks to the advent of Facebook, Sherry managed to look me up and send me a friend request. We still talk and she tells me she’s always had strong feelings for me. But she’s currently in a relationship and has a few kids and to me she’s just as beautiful as she was the day I first met her in the High-School cafeteria.

2008 I'm the crow with my cousins

2008 I’m the crow with my cousins