Put the gun down.
Seriously — take a deep breath, relax a second, and think about it…
Recently, I noticed some pretty grim status updates on Facebook from an old acquaintance of mine. Now, I’m no stranger to talk of being “done with it all” and “sick to death of life”. I read this stuff seemingly every day from one person or another. The wonderful world of social networking has granted us all the opportunity to take the most morbid thoughts of our darkest hours and throw them right out in public for all eyes to see. Hence, I normally don’t pay any heed to such things as it’s become pretty common in our society. But, one string of status quotes in particular got my attention a few nights ago from said Facebooker.
It started with:
“I hope this all works out as planned”
“Leaving my old life behind and all the bad memories with it…”
“Ive never felt so ready to be done with all this”
then finally, the one that really raised a brow:
“Elysian fields ill see you soon….god forgive me..”
Something seemed different to me. I didn’t interpret this as the usual attention-starved jargon, desperately screaming for some daytime drama. This clearly sounded like the guy was planning to kill himself. Being a person who has danced with the devil and fought that urge my whole life, I couldn’t just “walk on by” and assume this was just another example of the aforementioned drama-invite and say nothing. I wrote the guy a pretty in-depth piece of my perspective of life and the things that cause these feelings of black and nothingness. I’ll share these thoughts with you below, in hopes that someone out there who is going through something similar may find some sort of comfort or inspiration:
“I’m not sure if any of this will mean anything to you or not……………but, I have battled severe depression my whole life. I’ve tried meds, shrinks, alcohol, talking to friends, family, etc. Nothing helped. Nothing. Alcohol temporarily slowed it down, but never cured it. I felt alone for years and no one anywhere understood. They still don’t, and a part of me still feels alone in several aspects. My darkest hours have been extremely black, numb, scary, painful, and eye-opening all at once. In the past I’ve put the barrel of a .357 magnum in my mouth and thumbed back the hammer, with my finger on the trigger, applying pressure, ready to silence the pain and take that journey. It’s amazing how the world looks to you in this moment, when you’re so close to leaving this place and entering the other side, fully realizing your life could end during the next split second. Any moment of uncertainty or loss of focus can change it all — forever. Your heart pounds and your lungs quiver. Your stomach tightens as your body begins to tremble and shake. A hundred thoughts are racing through your mind a thousand miles a second. Nothing makes sense, yet some things become so clear. And if I was a betting man, I’d say anyone who has done this has either A) pulled the trigger and killed themselves -or- B) taken something positive away from it and applied it to their life.
Me personally, for much of my life I have viewed the world as a foul place full of fuck-headed fuckstains. Many of whom I often have to resist the urges of smashing their fucking skulls into pieces and smearing the remains all over the pavement, like some kind of twisted art. Anything to make myself feel better. Like a sweet release. Then, just as fast, I turn these thoughts onto myself. And for anyone perceived as ‘normal’ who might read this, the first reaction is always, “Wow, you need help.” Part of that is correct. But, the “help” they often refer to is something I’ve been there and done, and it didn’t HELP. Doctors don’t care about how you’re feeling. They don’t care about the special place they are in and that they have a REAL opportunity to possibly make a REAL difference in someone’s life. No. Instead, most of them only care about how quickly they can interpret 35% of what you have to say so they can quickly prescribe you some meds and get you out the door so they aren’t late for their fucking tee off. And sadly, this is society’s typical version of “help”. No thank you. I’ll keep my money, and my dignity, as a matter of fact.
FACT: You’re the only one that knows how you’re truly feeling. It is this undeniable logic that shapes my belief that you are also the only one who can do something about it. Shrinks, meds, alcohol, hard drugs — these are only ‘band-aids’. They only slow the ‘bleeding’ and temporarily distract you. Meanwhile, the true problem persists and continues to get worse. I found that spending less time trying to get everyone else to understand how I’m feeling and spending a lot more time trying to find a resolution is the better way to attack the problem. Because seriously, what is making someone else understand going to do? How is it going to help? Hearing someone say “I understand” doesn’t solve my problem. Having them put their arm around me and hold me while I cry doesn’t solve my problem. Sure, it feels good to know someone cares. It truly does. But again, does this make your root issue go away? If so, well congrats, you’re done! And guess what? You were never severely depressed. You were just lonely, and in need of companionship. For those of us who struggle with severe depression — loneliness is just one facet of our entangled web of complexity, and it takes more to remedy our situation. I’ve spent time wrapped in someone’s arms, knowing they truly care for me, but yet still hurting inside and still entertaining the thoughts of death or otherwise escape. There is still a problem to address.
So, what do you do? How do you find the solution? Simple — look within yourself. The answer is there. It’s always there. If you don’t know how to unlock it, certain people can help. Again, don’t waste time talking to people who don’t get it. Talk to those who are already fighting the battle. Other people who are effected by this illness. They might not know exactly what specific thoughts you have or what issues are individually plaguing you, as depression tends to effect everyone in it’s own unique way. But, odds are they have a pretty good idea and can offer realistic perspectives for you to consider. But, I strongly urge you to simply look in the mirror. Your best friend and the one who knows you better than anyone else is waiting for you there. He/she is always there, ready to listen and help.
Not long after I spent some serious time laying down my thoughts and figuring out what exactly triggers these horrible emotions, I began to discover some great things. I found that there are two types of things that make up my depression: the things I cannot change, and the things I can. Emotions that spring up while I’m going about my normal daily routine, such as the social anxiety and agoraphobia I’ve dealt with since the cradle. These are natural reactions to crowds and groups of people I’m not familiar or comfortable with and is thus something I cannot change. I can’t turn that emotion off, so I’m forced to deal with it accordingly. Then, there are things that depress me that ARE changeable — such as a job, place of residence, or a personal relationship. These are things that I have the ability to control and change. If you hate your job and it is making your life miserable, leave it and get something else. Don’t be afraid of possible consequences. Your health isn’t worth the risk of doing nothing. I’m not saying just get up and walk out, not having a clue where you’re going or what you’re gonna do and let your bills pile up. Be sensible. Aggressively pursue another job, land it, THEN WALK OUT. If you’re stuck in a bad relationship that is sucking the life and happiness out of you, do your part to make it better. If you get no reciprocal effort from your other half, end it. You have the ability to make that change. Depression only takes you as far as you let it. Don’t give it an inch!
Sometimes people ask me how I do it. How do I take a crappy situation, and turn it into something positive. Where do I find the will and the energy to pick myself up after a devastating blow. It all goes back to the mirror, understanding where my problems come from, how to deal with them, and ultimately, coming up with a source of positive energy and an outlet for the negative. For me, these two things are exercise and cognitive therapy. I apply both myself. No doctors, no pills. Two very natural ways to not only relieve the toxins in the body that cause the chemical imbalance — but maintaining focus, attitude, determination, and ridding your conscience of the constant negative perspective. Essentially, a clean body and mind. This is my answer. My truth. I found it by searching deep within myself. Does this mean I’m cured? Of course not. I’m still just as susceptible of falling into the funk and stricken with temptation of suicide. But, with these two “medicines” at my disposal I’m much better equipped at handling it and making it through, contrary to how I use to deal with it (juggling the revolver). I strongly urge you to find your source of strength. Your “rock”, or happy place. It can be anything. A hobby, a responsibility, or otherwise. You don’t have to fight the battle alone. Make the choice to get with the program. Not the one everybody always talks about and attempts to drill into your head. Get with your own. Develop your own system. Do what works for YOU.
Also — I think that somewhere deep down, I concluded that ultimately the vile things I feel at certain times along with the sad blackness that still loves to follow me around everywhere I go is because of certain people and the world. And killing myself is LETTING THEM WIN. Letting them get the best of me. At that point when I realized this, I said FUCK THAT. And FUCK THEM. Me continuing to live and doing what I want to do is spitting in the faces of any and everyone who ever tried to hurt me or hold me down. Anyone who ever intentionally tries to wrong me or anyone I care for literally makes a declaration of war in my mind, and I respond ready to shred them to pieces. I don’t make my decisions based on what people say is “right”. I have no respect for society’s consensus. I don’t fear the system. I get off on beating it into the ground. This is my middle finger salute to it all. For me, life isn’t about plotting your exit. What is it going to change? What is it going to accomplish besides bringing a quiet smile to the faces of those who cause strife? Contrarily — for me, life is about how much shit you can take, and keep spitting it back in the faces of those who deserve it. It’s about continuing to move forward no matter what. It’s about saying FUCK YOU to anyone who dares stand in your way. And with that, in addition to the exercise and cognitive therapy, I also have a chip on my shoulder. Extra motivation to put the two to work.
Finally, about finding true love: Believe me, it’s out there. I don’t know exactly what’s going on with your situation, but remember, there’s always another day. Another chapter. I’ve been through the horrible feeling of a serious break up and thinking that I had lost THE ONE and there will never, ever be anyone else like them. While there may never be anyone who matches one individual’s personality to the last detail, there are however, people who can meet your personal needs the same way, if not better, than a previous person did. Don’t get caught up in the feeling that once your current lover is gone — that’s it, you’re done. It just isn’t true.
Remember — YOU are in complete control. No one else. Do right by YOU. Never stop learning and getting stronger. Keep moving forward, no matter what.”