Recently a person who is very important to me lost a family member to suicide. Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day and a person in my community lost a loved one to suicide. Not so coincidentally, I have been thinking a lot about people I have loved who have taken their lives. There are too many. I feel compelled to tell my story. Maybe it will help someone. Probably not, but maybe. I have only told this to one person in my entire life. One time.
Twenty years old. In college and completely lost. Faith shattered. Feeling alone, worthless, and hopeless. Drinking heavily and not for fun. I’m not going to go into details because I think we have all heard about the lows of depression. Point is, I wanted out, but I did not know how. I could not stand the thought of people knowing how I had gone.
Guns and knives would leave a mess that my friends would have to find. Same with a rope. I had a ton of painkillers from my frequent injuries but again, an overdose would leave my friends and family devastated, feeling guilty, and knowing what I had done. I spent more than a few nights holding the pill bottle. I resorted to prayer. A couple times a week I’d pray, “God, I’m pretty sure you don’t even exist, but if you do, please don’t make me open my eyes tomorrow. A blood clot, an aneurysm, something. Just don’t make me wake up.” Every morning, my eyes would open and I’d start the day with the same word. “Fuck.”
Then one night I went partying. I became increasingly drunk and knew I was well past the point of “responsible drinking.” I was gonna be in for a long night and rough morning, but I remember thinking, “I will never stop” and I continued to drink at an unbelievable pace. An experienced drunk, I knew I was deep into uncharted territories. I ended up outside and I knew I was in trouble. I started to vomit and a friend asked if I was OK. I decided to come clean and unburden myself and said, “No. I need help. I don’t think I’m gonna make it.” He (understandably) took this as me needing help home. Three guys who I remain close to, dragged my stumbling shell a half mile back to my house
At home, I flopped into bed with my head in a wastebasket and continued to puke as the well oiled machine of frat-brother-care went into effect. My friends stayed with me, photographed the festivities, got my shoes off and watched me as the familiar world-spinning and dry-heaving set in. I was no stranger to this ritual and was experienced enough not to panic in these situations, but I knew something was very wrong. I was having sharp pains in my stomach and guts that were new and obviously wrong. As time wore in, things got worse and I begin telling my friends that I just wanted it to be over and die. This was met with hoots of laughter because, let’s be honest, the drunken requests for death were about as rare and sincere as the drunken vows of sobriety that we heard on a bi-weekly basis. My stomach was empty and I began to vomit fluids and acids that reeked, hurt and stunk like guts. The whispers were starting and the one sober person in the room finally said, “Erik, this doesn’t look good. Do we need to get an ambulance?”
And there it was. The obvious answer was yes. Something was wrong and I was scared, but here it was. I could be another statistic. Just another dumb-ass frat boy who over did it. A tragedy really. People would mourn and move on, but nobody would have to know! I could get out. I told everyone that the worst was done, I was rallying and not to make the call. I have no idea how much time passed, but nothing changed. It continued and hurt like hell. Bad stuff was happening and I decided to give one final prayer. “God, I don’t believe you even exist, but if you do, make this quick, but make it final. And if you do exist, I hate you.”
For a brief second, my vision focused, my mind sharpened and I could clearly see the vomit inches from my face. I knew I wasn’t going to die, in my head I heard “You’re loved” and I had the briefest few seconds of feeling so loved that I will never find the words for it. Indescribable and I have never felt anything like it again. Not even close.
Obviously, I’m alive and have got my stuff together. There were no life changes, medications, therapy or anything. In fact, I was drunk at another party the next night. Hair of the dog. Frat-cred. I was just fortunate enough to be able to battle through after that. I was lucky. I am not trying to convert anyone, don’t care if you think my experience was crazy or a hallucination or anything. This blog isn’t about faith or religion. I just want you to know love saves. I have literally told that story one time in my life before tonight and swore never to tell it but I just see too much hurt lately. I’ve lost more than a few to suicide.
I know how bad the world can hurt and find no greater joy than seeing people I care about smile and be happy. I will go to pretty extreme lengths to make sure my friends are happy. Because of that, I get used. I get used a lot, but am generally OK with that. I just like to see people happy and hate seeing pain. It’s worth it.
The only reason I write this is that maybe someone will read it and think twice. There is so much to see and do in the world. Your kids’ smile, places, technology, friends. Too many things to leave early. It’s an amazing world with amazing people. It’s not worth missing this.
Even if you have never struggled with this issue. I guarantee you’ve been sitting in rooms with someone who has written the note, held the blade, made the plan or stared at the pill bottle. You may never know it.
I put this on Facebook, but please, spread love. Close the app and make the call or send the text. Tell someone you love them. Tell someone they are amazing. Tell someone how much they mean to you. Don’t think about it. Do it tonight. Do it a lot. Blow up people’s phones tonight. You never know who you are saving. Even if someone doesn’t need saving, nothing bad can come from love. Nothing.
Finally, if you know me personally. DO NOT DARE TO TALK TO ME ABOUT THIS BLOG unless you need help. I don’t want to talk about this story and I am through it. Quite frankly, I find it embarrassing, but maybe it will help someone. Please don’t talk to me about it.
I miss you, Sean.