“The bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die.”
— Juliette Lewis
Dear Fellow Warrior,
I have been struggling a bit, with signficant mental, emotional, and physical pain. But hanging in there.
How about you? You okay?
It’s September now. Summer is gone.
I feel like I lost my summer, even though this summer I was determined not to feel this, or have to say this at the end of the summer.
It is okay.
September, as you know, is Suicide Prevention Month in America.
Happy National Suicide Prevention Month!
Here is an article I wrote on Medium about Suicide Prevention Month:
I remember telling you in various articles in the past how I didn’t think I would live past 40. Given all I have endured, really, I was reflecting on this the other day, how is it even possible that I am alive right now?
What kept me alive all these years?
When the Suicidality was so powerful and prominent.
How did I sustain this pain, as the pain grew bigger, bigger, and bigger. And even now, it seems that the life expectancy that I predicted for myself might be coming true…
Because I might be nearing rock bottom in a way I haven’t before, if I don’t make a change fast…. I was already there at the beginning of the year. I was already planning to take my life. That’s how I started this year…wanting to die and trying to figure out a plan. And this is where I am right now.
The PhD… My baby.
Did it save me? Or did it lead me here?
My baby. It feels at times it has been marred and scarred with so much trauma. Will I always remember it like this… the journey, or will I be able to reach a state of mind to reframe my past… and cancel the hurt and the traumas associated with it…
Is that why it has been so hard to find a way to make all that effort have the impact it was intended to have?
Did it keep me alive, or was it intended to kill me, and did I defy my fate, like in those crazy “Final Destination” movies and somehow the Universe is doing everything possible to make me call it quits…
Because I really shouldn’t have been alive right now…
Or was I tricked to believing that the PhD wasn’t the final destination?
There was a life I was supposed to work towards beyond that…
I was working for it all. I wasn’t finished. There were many other destinations beyond the doctorate. I wasn’t lucky. I just wasn’t lucky.
I was told recently that I shouldn’t tell the world that I am lost right now. Because it will work against me. I will suffer more.
Maybe this is true. Is it?
Instead, I should lie to the world. Pretend I am okay. Lie to everyone and tell them that I am happy, I am doing great.
This isn’t hard for me. I have succeeded numerous times in doing so… read the room and saw that my truth, my authentic truth would not fit in here. Does not belong in this space. So I will wear the mask.
The truth is that you can easily show the world you are fine, when they are around you. You want them to be happy and comfortable with your presence. You need to be on your A-game if you have committed your time to them.
But then, if I do “lie” about being okay and happy, it seems that people will forget that you were ever sad, and all that you shared about your trials and tribulations are canceled.
You overcoming your pain and suffering should be seen as an inspiration, not something to be resentful or jealous of…
You don’t even deserve to pretend you are happy!
People would be jealous or envious of my “happy life.” Am I right? This is the world we live in now in social media, both online and offline?
So I am screwed either way right?
In any case. I have always been loud, clear, honest, and genuine about my real experiences.
The hardest thing about preventing suicide, fighting for your own life, putting so many different types of “calls for help” out there, is this painful realization.
It is something you have to live with for the rest of your life…
How everybody knew… How many people just turned their cheek…
Everybody knew that you were struggling. And my god, nobody did anything.
Nobody made the effort to learn. Nobody thought it would be good to check in on you from time to time to see if you are okay. Nobody thought to ask how the Pandemic impacted your preexisting mental health conditions that they knew about. Nobody wants to admit that they should have said something or reached out or offered some help while I was alive.
They will say this when I’m gone. Because I’m gone. “The burden” is gone.
If I die by suicide now, this will be my story…
And if I stay, the suffering will continue. Am I doomed either way.
And I showed mercy and patience, hoping that they would have to courage to change. To engage this. And How I forgave so much…. despite the occassional feelngs of resentment. I forgave.
And how much I will continue to have to forgive, while people show no mercy or interest to learn and have the conversations..
Because you and your depression and sadness and personality and pain… all of what you carry… is a burden.
So what message does this send to me and my beautiful suicidal mind?
That others actually want me dead or would be fine if I were dead. That they are waiting for me to end my existence.
So if I stay alive, I live with this pain of this “bystander effect.” How so many people in my life knew and did nothing. This knowledge may be the most unbearable thing to keep living with. It may be the one element that keeps me hostage to all the traumas of my past. How do I let this go?
It seems I will have to find a way. In order to survive.
This message to you, my dear fellow warrior, isn’t to create a pity party. Never.
Never forget, as the saying goes, the opposite of depression is “expression.”
I truly believe in that. We need to express. We need an outlet to share our stories of pain. We have to be able to do this without social and professional retributions.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in this ideal world. I have faced the consequences and will continue to…
People stopped calling me brave. Instead, in their eyes, I am stupid. I am making a stupid choice to speak so openly about something that is part of my human reality, my human experience. Did I get this right?
I was and am always open to being wrong. But I am not wrong about the Stigma. The fear. The lack of bravery and courage in people to speak up.
We should fear the silence, not the words that startle us.
Release of the words like “I am feeling suicidal” from an individual’s mouth could help that person survive!
So please, my fellow warrior, do not be afraid of me. Deep down, beyond the darkness, my dark side, there is a pure and gentle soul that deserves to see the light. And she has just been trying to find a “home.” She is worthy of a “home.”
If I stay alive, I should be able to live, breathe, walk, talk, move, dream in my most authentic truth. I am worthy of love, of a career and wealth, of positive supportive meaningful relationships, of participating in things that give me joy.
I don’t believe I should have been alive right now. And I need to be able to express this, in order to stop this “belief” from killing me, or causing me ongoing suffering, and in order to keep myself from surrendering to the darkness.
Telling people you are lost, boldly claiming you are struggling, is not exposing weakness, it is demonstrating strength.
“Be careful if you find yourself in a place where only acceptable truths are allowed. Taboos are a sign of insecurity. Only fragile castles need to be protected by the highest of walls.” – Ozan Varol, Awaken Your Genius: Escape Conformity, Ignite Creativity, and Become Extraordinary.
Will you listen? Will you share your story? Will we make the effort to have the uncomfortable, tough conversations? Where do we go from here, now that we are here?
Indeed, I shouldn’t be “here” right now. But here I am. Will you hear me while I’m still here?
Happy Suicide Prevention Month.
Let us relinquish our discomforts to the transformative power of these difficult conversations.
“If light is in your heart, you will find your way home.” – Rumi.
Peace, warmth, blessings, and solidarity,
“She wasn’t looking for a Knight. She was looking for a Sword.” – Atticus