Y'all must know by now that I talk about happiness a lot. That's because my happiness was hard won.
You may also know, if you've read for a while, that I have been incredibly, horribly unhappy in the past. I don't think I've ever told you exactly how unhappy.
In the past several weeks several famous people have been in the news because they committed suicide: Alexander McQueen, Andrew Koenig and now Marie Osmond's son, Michael.
In my own life, I have personally known or known of at least seven people who have killed themselves.
I want anyone who is reading this to know that I was suicidal. It was a long time ago. I was clinically depressed. I was actively planning to kill myself - seriously, methodically, secretly. I didn't drop hints, I didn't give warnings, I didn't want anyone to intervene. I didn't want to be saved. I wanted to die. I tried to figure out a way that I could do it so that my parents wouldn't know that I had died by my own hand, but in the end my pain was so terrible that I had even given that up. I planned to drive to a secluded spot in the middle of the night and use a hose in the exhaust pipe. I figured that that way, no one would find me until I was already gone.
What people want to know about this is: why? Why was I so sad? And the simple, horrible reason is that there was no reason. I don't know why I was so sad. There was no "external stimulus" so terrible as to cause me to feel that way. Sometimes I think that was the worst part. I tried so hard to figure out what the problem was so that I could fix it, but nothing I could do for myself worked. Nothing.
And so, in the end, suicide was the answer to me because I had tried everything else (I thought). I fantasized about killing myself in the same way that you would fantasize about winning the lottery. It was the best thing I could think of, it was the only thought, the only thing, that gave me any sort of comfort. I'm fairly sure that people who kill themselves are not distraught about it. In fact, I'll bet they look forward to it. I did.
Still, through it all, there was a tiny little disembodied reasonable voice in my head, sitting high up on the shelf, looking down and saying to me (although usually not too strongly) that wanting to kill yourself is not normal or good or "right" - for lack of a better word. I'm not sure whether that's what saved me. I guess I'll never know. I think I finally went to a doctor in a last ditch effort to convince myself that I had done all that I could do. I never, ever thought that they could actually help me.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
Now, when I read or hear about people who kill themselves, it makes me sad because as sure as I know what it felt like to want to die, I know that there is help. I'm not sure anyone wants to admit that they need this help. Sometimes the people who love them don't want to admit it, either.
There are lots of people who don't understand depression. The mentally healthy cannot comprehend being so emotionally unhappy that death is all you can see as a means to end your pain. They cannot understand the overwhelming, crushing, unending, unhappiness that has no cause, no beginning and seemingly, no end.
But I know. I know what it feels like to want to die. I know what it feels like to have people who you love judge you because you were sick. I know what it feels like to have people love you and help you.
I'm sorry if this makes some of you uncomfortable. I don't often talk about it with those who don't know me well because I've suffered through a lot of polite hand-patting in the past, from those who don't understand or who think it can never happen to them. They smile politely. They nod. They change the subject. Sometimes, I can tell that they think I'm weak, that I was unable to handle the pressures of daily life like a normal person, that I am "crazy". I often wonder if those people think diabetics should be able to will themselves to make insulin.
Despite, and maybe because of this, I wanted to post this for two reasons.
First, if you are reading this and you feel this misery, please call someone. There is help. The treatment does work. There are good people who can help you find your way out. I know some or all of what you are feeling, I understand and I know you can get better. It might mean that you have to take medicine. It might mean that you have to confront something that you don't want to confront. But if you try, you can get better.
If, on the other hand, you are reading this and you think you know someone in crisis, please help them.
If they call you, don't wait, go to them.
If they need you to hold their hand, hold it.
If you can throw a line, throw it.
If you don't know what to do or how to do it, call somebody who can help you help them. And do it with love and without judgment, even if it scares you or you don't understand it. I'm sure that any family member of someone who has killed themselves would give anything to have the opportunity.
Image: Summer Solstice by Amy Victoria Photography