Saturday, March 1, 2014

”Suicide”






























"The good, the bad and the ugly: The truths about suicide from the man inside."

For this piece I am stepping out from behind the clown mask. I am hoping to do more here than share a laugh or deliver an opinion piece. I am putting humor aside to talk about something very important; about something that is affecting many people in this world of ours, and has been for many ticks of the clock. The young and old, the rich and poor, the black and white, none of it matters because this monster doesn’t discriminate, anyone can be a victim. 

I would like to talk about suicide. I would like to share my personal battle with it and how at one time I thought it was the only way out. I thought it was the only way to silence the demons that were relentlessly attacking and poisoning my soul with never-ending self-doubt and vicious lies about my reality, every day trying to destroy the foundation that was my life.

My desire is to show others in a similar situation that when they feel they are at their lowest or at their breaking point that they are not alone and that there is help out there. There are ways to relieve the weight that burdens your shoulders, but it’s not in a drug/drink, nor is it with you lying on your back six feet under with a face full of dirt.

Suicide stalks its prey like a highly skilled assassin, ever so silently and with deadly precision, and if you're not cautious, you or a loved one could be its next target.

“Just because someone is smiling on the outside, doesn’t mean they aren't hurting on the inside.” 

(Suicidal) When the wrong feels right… 

"God, should I come home now?” is a question that I have asked myself many times before, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

We’ve all had times where we felt as if the world was against us. As if everyone was screaming our name, and not like an adoring fan would scream the name of their favorite rockstar, but rather like the way a bloodthirsty mob would scream for your head as you were about to be hung. All you want to do is run and hide, but no matter where you go the voices just won’t stop.

On the outside it is bright and sunny. No one could tell from looking at you that something was wrong. However, on the inside it is dark and gloomy, your mental state is not well and your life is on the edge of devastation. You don’t know what to do. You’re like that whimsical cookie jar that sits on the counter, on the surface you seem all together, complete and even at times upbeat. Although the truth of it is that on the inside you are emotionally disheveled, scattered and spiritually broken into little pieces.

You dream of dying like most people dream of living. You want to be alone but you don't want to be lonely. While most people are anticipating opening night, you're planning your curtain call. The monster you once feared as a child, who hid in the darkness, now resides in your head and doesn’t disappear when the lights are turned on. While most are aggressively waiving their battle flag, you’re flying the white flag. Sadness surrounds you like a cocoon, and unfortunately doesn’t open to reveal a beautiful butterfly but rather a beaten, withered and tattered soul.

You want so badly to shout out to the world how tortured you are, but at the same time you don’t want to be perceived as weak and/or any less of a person by doing so, and as a result you hold it all in. Because of this decision the pain stews inside of you, making a mess of things both emotionally and mentally, leaving you a total wreck, spiritually shattered and intoxicated by misery and despair. 

You can’t believe that your loved ones don’t notice that something isn’t right with you. They aren’t aware that your life is in shambles and that you have no idea how to fix it. This makes you feel damaged, lonely and desperate for a way out. 

Yet you put on an Oscar worthy performance to make sure people don’t find out what’s really going on. Doing all you can to put your best foot forward to keep your deadly secret hidden within the confines of your soul. You are torn, you feel as if all the clues are there to help them solve the unfortunate case that is your life, but in all reality you have orchestrated a crime so masterfully that even CSI couldn’t solve it. This is absolutely a no-win situation and cannot end well for anyone involved.

How can you stop the sadness? How can you find peace? Is there a way out or are you destined to go through life depressed and constantly fighting for the happiness and comfort that seems to come so easily to those around you?

You start contemplating suicide. You start thinking that with your dying breath the pain will finally cease and you will be comfortably at rest and in your own skin. 

Your absence wouldn’t matter to anyone, because obviously they didn’t care when you were alive so why in death would things be any different? What would be the right time? How would you do it? Should you leave a note? These are just some of the things that cross your mind as you think about moving forward with your ill-fated plan, as you consider the best way to execute your personal mission for mental stability and closure on the agony that is your being.

“Admitting that you need help isn’t a sign of weakness, especially when holding it in could mean death.”

(Cautious) Living with untreated depression is like taking permanent residence on death row…

Unfortunately there are some people who actually follow thru and succeed in ending their lives, and then there are others, who by the grace of God manage to make it through these dark times and move forward in a positive direction. Gratefully I am the latter. 

I was close to calling an end to my time here on this planet a few times, each time believing it was the only way to correct things and to truly put my mind at ease. I felt like it was the only way to get past the torment and heartache. Thankfully though, I had a great support system and was able to open up to people to let them know how I felt, which wasn’t easy by any means but absolutely necessary for healing.

Life is hard and unforgiving at times, if you let your guard down for too long it will swallow you up and drag you down to the depths of hell. I know it’s not all doom and gloom, but the truth of the matter is this, life is not all that kind and will tear you apart if you don’t prepare accordingly. 

We can’t just assume that people know how we feel, especially when we go out of our way to disguise our true feelings (as stated above). We must be able to trust our loved ones with our innermost workings and allow them to help when they can. We can’t be afraid to ask and/or seek help when needed, professional help if applicable.

Your mind is extremely powerful, and at the same time very dangerous, especially if you have not trained it correctly. You could be your own best friend or your own worst enemy, completely depending on your overall mental health. When battling depression you become a hostage to your own psyche, which in turn, if not treated properly acts as the judge, the jury and unfortunately the executioner of your being. It is a menacing adversary who will do any and everything within its power to have you succumb to its will. This is not a war you want to fight alone because you won’t stand a chance, call in for backup!

You have to reinforce the barriers that protect your weak spots, train your mind to follow your lead, instead of it being the other way around. We must be strong and steadfast in the face of depression, so when these situations arise we can conquer them, and do so in a healthy and productive manner. If you’re not careful, your mind will bully you and beat you down, leaving you for dead…literally. 

From the birth certificate to the obituaries, life can be a cruel mistress. Whether it is that tasty treat that you can’t have until you finish your icky dinner, or something more adult oriented like the loss of a job and/or bills piling up faster than you can knock them down. I’m sure you’ve heard this many times before; life is not fair and doesn’t play nice. The game is difficult, but totally worth playing, so put your game face on and play to win!  
    
“Depression is the fire, and playing with it will get you burnt.”

(Due Process) Here comes the judge…

We all know the expression, "don't judge a book by its cover". The reason why we shouldn’t, is because until we read the pages of that said book we don't really know what it’s about. Those pages may consist of unspeakable horrors, soul crushing pain and severe hardships. The cover may be all rainbows and unicorns, and the pages dark and depressing, and you'll never know unless you move past what's on the surface. Don’t discount someone due to superficial reasons; if you do it could lead to dire consequences.

For those of you who think that suicide is a sign of weakness, something that only a coward would do and/or something that only affects the most desolate of people, you've got a lot to learn. I am thankful that you've never had to endure the deadly sting that is depression and hopefully you never will. Don’t be foolish, because trust me this can happen to anyone, no matter who you are and/or where you are at in your life.

You may not personally be the one who is battling with depression and/or with the thoughts of suicide, but someone you know may just be, so keep a watchful eye out for the warning signs and don’t be afraid to act if necessary. As I said prior, due to an unfortunate stigma in this country when it comes to mental health most people are ashamed to speak up out of fear of ridicule and/or being considered weak. Bottom line, they are not going to come to you, you have to go to them. 

There are even some who don’t believe that depression is real, that it’s something made up like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, and unfortunately they have no problem whatsoever voicing their misinformed opinion regardless of who is in earshot. Trust me it’s very real and very dangerous, and not something to be taken lightly. Think before you speak, because the words that come out of your mouth may be why someone can’t/won’t open up to you and potentially the reason they feel that they have no hope. Sticks and stones will definitely break bones, but no matter what they say, words can, and will hurt you. Poorly chosen words can fall like salt into an exposed wound to someone who is hurting on the inside, and you will be doing yourself a great service to remember that. 

Sometimes your perception of things is askew, things aren't always how they appear. With that said, do your loved ones a favor and pay attention, don’t take anything for granted because by the time you finally realize there’s a problem it could already be too late.

We classify many different conditions and addictions as diseases in this country, which I can only assume is to make people feel better about overindulging, physically, mentally and of course financially. However, when it comes to depression we dare not speak of it in public out of fear of being labeled crazy, insane or mentally challenged in one way or another, hence the reason why we have such a problem with suicide in our country. This fact completely amazes and leaves me scratching my head in utter confusion. Needless to say, this has to change if we truly ever hope to rectify the issue at hand.

We ask each other, “How are you” but we don’t really want to know, we only do so to be perceived as caring individuals, of course not all but most for sure. God forbid they actually tell us their troubles, because then they are considered complainers and in our busy lives and hectic schedules we don’t have to for that.

We are programmed to act concerned and compassionate to our fellow humans because it’s the right thing to do, but the truth of it is that we don’t really want to be bothered. With the social stigma that already comes attached to depression, this way of being only makes it more complicated and risky for someone to feel comfortable enough to open up and honestly share what hinders them with us. We need to start being there for each other, and stop trying to hide from each other!

“Remember, sometimes a crowd is the loneliest place of all.”

(Misconceptions) Walking a fine line, the razor’s edge…

Some say that suicide is selfish, which may very well be the case to those who’ve lost, but when someone feels lonely and abandoned who exactly are they being selfish to; at least that’s how they see it. Consider this, in their mind your loss is their gain, makes sense? 

The old adage, "time heals all wounds" may be true for some, but it is definitely not true for everyone. We’re not all the same, and you’d be wise to remember that. To quote the Diff'rent Strokes theme song, "Now, the world don't move to the beat of just one drum, what might be right for you, may not be right for some". More accurate words have never been spoken, and if someone tells you otherwise, feel free to let them have a, "What'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis”? No one has the right to tell you how long you should, or shouldn't grieve, regardless of the circumstances.

Some personalities choose to stew over their plights; it’s just how they were made. They let them slowly cook like a meal in a crock-pot, and unfortunately by doing this; their internal temperature rises and things eventually boil over leaving nothing more than a hot mess.

Without help and/or a healthy way to release this pressure these individuals could possibly find themselves in dire straits. The aforementioned “time” that is supposed to heal all wounds becomes a catalyst for disaster and ultimately ends up doing more harm than good. Moral of the story, don’t assume that the way you handle stress is the only and proper way of doing so, because those assumptions could be very costly to you in the end.

“There’s always someone who has it worse”, is a statement I have heard thrown around many times as an attempt to “help” someone realize that their burden isn’t really all that bad in the grand scheme of things. Now this may very well be the case, and to some this may even be helpful advice, but unfortunately to those with depression this knowledge does little to ease the anguish that haunts their spirit, if anything it diminishes their pain and adds more fuel to the already raging fires. Be mindful with what you say and to whom you say it to, because your attempt to help may result in your outstretched hand becoming a clinched fist.

You know that you’re not to be negative, your glass is always supposed to be "half full", because that’s the politically correct way to think. You’re not to fall down and stay down, you’re to pick yourself up and have a feel-good “Rocky” moment, where you kick ass and take names. Anything else makes you inferior to the masses, or at least that’s how you see it. Believe it or not, it’s perfectly acceptable to admit defeat and to ask for help when you need it. Doing so doesn’t make you any less of a person and/or weak, if anything it takes more courage and strength, so that is something you should take pride in.

“Don’t assume that others know how you feel about them, make it known.”

(Coping) The living dead...

This section is not about mindless zombies who crave brains like some of us crave chocolate, but instead the individual who is left behind after the person he/she cares about commits suicide. Their life becomes an out of control emotional rollercoaster filled with many “what ifs” and “whys”. Nothing makes sense anymore and they are as lost as a kid on the back of the milk carton. 

There are cases where people realize there is something wrong, the warning signs have been heeded and the necessary actions taken. They try to help but their efforts are all in vain, their reached out hand is met with a stiff barrier reluctant to move. Their words fall on deaf ears; to the damaged psyche you come off sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher. This is not because these people don’t want help, but rather because they don’t feel they are worthy of it, in their minds they are already at the end of their rope. No matter what how hard you tried, nothing got through to them and ultimately still decided to extinguish their flame. 

Then sometimes even with the subtle clues and whispered cries for help a person can be blind to the issues at hand and not pay them much mind, they just write it off as a bad day or trouble getting over a pothole in the rearview on the road of life. Does this mean they don’t care, of course not, they just can’t see the pain and suffering through the overly happy façade of their loved one. Now although this is not done intentionally and/or with hate in their hearts, this is a costly mistake that could come back to haunt them when all is said and done. 

Is this torment deserving and/or warranted, especially in the shadow of a recent loss? It is not, but regrettably it comes with the territory and is an unrelenting burden that the survivor(s) must bear until they learn to cope with the tragedy in a healthy manner. 

“They have taken their life and left you feeling dead inside.”

(Hope) The light at the end of the dark road…

This may be hard to believe, and even somewhat cliché to say, but there is a way to overcome the barrage of devastating punches life has bestowed upon you without having to throw in the towel. Keep your chin up and do your best to not give up on yourself or your loved ones.

I hope and pray the best for everyone, and if you ever need to talk feel free to let me know. I may not be able to solve every problem, but at least I could be an ear willing to listen and/or a shoulder to lean on if need be. 

I’m speaking from experience my friends, I know it’s not easy, but you’re worth fighting for and doing whatever is necessary to live a happy and healthy life. When it comes to suicide the quote, “that which does not kill us, makes us stronger” has never been more fitting. Don’t be a statistic, be a survivor!

Truly words to “live” by!

“No matter what side of the coin you're on, there are no winners when it comes to suicide.”

The End, but hopefully not for you…

When it comes to mental health, screw society and its standards! We must be able to talk about it freely and without the fear of condemnation to truly be able to help those in need. We are in a very difficult situation when it comes to mental health, and we need to work together to change it for the better or we’ll all be attending more unnecessary funerals. Spread the word! #ChangeYourMindChangeTheirLife

“Bring flowers to someone to show them how special they are to you, not to decorate their grave after they've passed on.”

MJM 


This piece is dedicated to the memory of all those who have lost the fight with depression. To those who were overcome by the dreaded beast. To those who felt the only way out was to end it all. May your souls now rest in peace and your hearts hurt no longer.

This piece is also dedicated to those who have loved and lost. To those who have found out that something was wrong way too late. To those who are missing pieces of themselves like an incomplete puzzle. I pray that with time the cross you bear becomes easier to manage, and that the crack in your wall not end with your foundation shattering. 

Helpful Links/Numbers:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number: 1-800-273-8255

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention - Official Site

Suicide Prevention: How to Help Someone who is Suicidal

“Battlefield of the Mind”…a great book with lots of helpful practices and techniques to strengthen your mind, spiritual or not, this is a good read.

72 comments:

  1. MJ, my dear friend. This is an incredible piece, hugely brave, and powerfully written. I'm so proud of you for doing it, and so glad that you came through your dark times and made it back out into the light.

    And to write, to shine a beacon of hope and solidarity for others, is a wonderfully generous thing to do. Huge, absolute and complete kudos to you for this.

    I will be sharing it everywhere, and meantime sending you the BIGGEST EVER *wrap-around hugs*

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    1. Thank you very much my friend, I really appreciate the love and support.

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    2. I'm glad you decided to live.☺

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    3. I'm glad you decided to live.☺

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    4. Thank you very much my friend. I'm glad I did too.

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  2. I have had two friends and a co-worker commit suicide. I plan to write an e-book about it. It's just awful for everyone left behind. I am lucky to be "the latter" as well and wow, if I could only impart that wisdom that things will get better someday to everyone considering suicide, well... life would be grand. But some can't see the light, unfortunately. So sad!

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    1. I am very sorry to hear about the friends you lost, it's a sad and unfortunate thing to say the least.

      Good luck with your E-book and hopefully it will help save lives.

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    2. MY FATHER COMMITED SUICIDE AT 47 IN 2008 IN HIS TRUCK WITH A 22 PISTOL.....NEVER KNEW A TAD BIT OF OUNCE HE WAS SO LONLY AND HEARTBROKE! Didn't see the signs ....to late to apologize was in his CD player ....why we ask? Only god knows

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    3. @Jamie I'm so very sorry for your loss my friend. The lack of understanding why, is one of the hardest thing a family of an individual who died by suicide has to deal with after the horrific event. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

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  3. I am not the type to tear up with blog posts...at. all. But you, you did it.

    Such an incredibly well-written, poignant piece my friend. Thank you for sharing this and for being brave enough to do so. *hugs*

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    1. My friend it was very difficult to write this post, by no means was it easy, but I felt it was definitely something that needed to be said and shared.

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  4. Very brave of you to share and thank you. I touched on this in s prior post about my love for the military. I have a very dear friend who has almost gone through with it twice and he is one of the strongest people I know.

    Even though we are newly friended, know that you are loved and always have an ear, shoulder, or whatever you need from me. xoxo

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    1. Unfortunately even the strongest of us can experience this, none of us are immune.

      Thank you so very much for the love and support my friend, it really means a lot.

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  5. A powerful,and extraordinarily personal piece to write. Your words ooze authority and genuineness, borne from your own life experiences. Hats off to you, Mike, for your bravery in writing about that dark place where hope as gone; your words will, I'm sure, encourage some to work through their despair.

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    1. Thank you my friend, it wasn't easy but I do feel it was completely worth it.

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  6. Extremely well written from the soul. I know of only a few who have never considered the "easy way out." One was a high school friend's mother who decided to end her life with a shotgun and leave the remains for my friend to discover after arriving home after school. Life is not an easy task, nor should any normal person ever believe it so. There are times in my life that I feel as though I'm only here to be God's "whipping boy" as he laughs at how much I can take. We seek an understanding to the trials we sustain, and, most of the time, there is none to be found. What we have to understand is that life is like an old rickety staircase. Each step can drop us down into the depths of despair. It's only by continuing up the staircase will we ever reach the top, whatever the top will bring us. Suicide is simply another way of saying, "I can't go any further." Unfortunately, what that normally means is that they can't go any further alone. A helping hand is not always welcomed, but sometimes it is a necessity. Well done, my friend. I wish you well.

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    1. Correction to above statement. Should read: "..One that took that fatal path was a high school ..." Apologies.

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    2. Thank you very much for the love and support my friend, I really appreciate it.

      Very well said, and I couldn't have said it any better myself, life isn't easy by any means and to think otherwise is completely foolish.

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  7. I always knew there was a depth to your writing that you hadn't stretched yet and here you've gone and knocked it out of the park. Well done and a wonderful message, MJ.

    You may very well save a life with your insightful post.

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    1. Thank you my friend, coming from you that means a lot.

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  8. MJM, I commend your willingness to change tone on your blog and write a powerful, important message. You are showing that you can be a flexible, vulnerable writer and that should be commended. Well done, sir.

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    1. Thank you kind sir, like I said before, it wasn't easy but it was something that I felt needed to be shared.

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  9. I read this post this morning before I even got out of bed, and I've sat on it all day trying to decide what to comment. Truth - I still don't know what to say. I am so glad you're still here. I don't even know you, but I appreciate you...and not just because of this post. I love your quirky snarky comments and your atypical sense of humor. Like I said, I don't even know you, but you make my world better, so there's that. For what it's worth.

    Suicide...deep breath...is so so painful, and not just to the one who's listening to the "screaming" and the voices that never stop, ever. It's also painful to us who are left behind. I've been left behind, and I'll never be able to answer the question "what if I..." You are so brave for staying, for choosing life, and for being honest about it. Please keep reaching out to your loved ones and let them help you. They want you here. We want you here. So glad you are.

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    1. That was one of the sweetest things I have ever heard, and for that I thank you so very much my friend.

      You are absolutely correct, suicide impacts many people, there are numerous victims, and no winners.

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  10. I had some time, many years ago now, that I, too, wanted to just die. I did not succeed, thank God, and later even prayed for God to give me an illness because there were other people out there who had them and did not deserve them, and I was convinced that I did. I'm so glad that you found the light. You are amazing and brave for writing and sharing this, my fabulous friend. I'm SO GLAD YOU ARE HERE.

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    1. Thank you so very much for sharing a bit of yourself with us my friend, that in itself is very brave and commendable.

      ...and I'm so glad you are here too.

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  11. I'm going to be honest here, MJ. I avoided reading this blog for the entire (almost) week since it went up and I saw it being shared and promoted . . .

    Because it's a trigger. Because it's sad. Because just the word "suicide" makes me shake and breaks my heart.

    I lost my very best friend in all the world almost 5 years ago when he took his own life, and I will never understand why, I will never get over it, and I will never be at peace with his death.

    Suicide sucks because there is no WHY, no one to blame, nothing to blame, just . . . the end of a life, a shit storm of anger and guilt and a thousand questions.

    Thank you for writing this. I am so glad I finally gained the courage to come read it.

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    1. I'm very sorry to hear of your loss my friend, it is never easy to lose someone regardless of how they pass, but at least you still have the memories.

      Suicide is hard because the person who is suffering from the depression and mental anguish may not open their mouth and let others know how they feel, so when they take their life there is no one around to answer the questions that were left unanswered.

      No matter how you look at it, it's never easy.

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  12. Thank you for sharing your story. I was suicidal when I was 18. That experience was a living hell. God bless you for sharing your story and offering hope.

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    1. My pleasure, and thank you for sharing yours.

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  13. When I was 12, my younger brother died, and for several years I just didn't want to live anymore. I pretended I was coping, because I didn't think anyone could understand just how bad I was feeling - I thought people would just think I was crazy. My silence robbed me of my teenage years, and of my academic ambitions - how can you imagine having fun, or working for a better future, when you don't even want to be here today?

    Well, somehow, I made it and, even though my health is not good, I'm looking forward to my 49th birthday, in a few weeks, and to marrying my lovely partner, next year.

    Thank you, my dear brother, for sharing this story, and helping people to talk about this difficult subject. I hope that this article, and all the comments, will help people to realise that, even if you don't know what they are yet, there are always ways to get through suicidal feelings, and there's always the opportunity to have a good life.

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    1. Thank you my brother for sharing your story with us, it was both very heartbreaking and motivational. You have showed us that no matter how tough things get, as totally justified by your comment, that there's always a way out and a reason to go on. I wish you much love, and I am ever so thankful you are still here with us.

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  14. My best friend commited suicide on January. He was both gay and muslim, and this being America, it was a dangerous combination. With politicians saying he would ruin the country and with random people coming up to him and shouting at him, asking whether he was sorry or how he managed to get in this country and how he must be illegal, and with them threatening to call the police.


    He helped me out of my darkest times, resenting my father, not getting over losing my mom, always envisioning pushing my stepmother down the stairs..........All this with my overwhelming need to binge-drink and going home with strange men. He was in my art college, and he didnt owe me anything, but he helped me do my own version of rehab since i couldnt afford a real one. I came to terms with my mom, and no longer thought morbid thoughts.

    Now i thought since he could pull me out of my dark hole, i could pull him out of his. He was facing pressure from all sides, his family, his friends, the teachers in our PROFESSIONAL college, and the very people who are running this country.

    I began going to his dorm everyday, showing him funny tweets to lighten him up. I thought that humor was enough as we both loved going to stand-up shows. Apparently while my plan to light him up with laughs was going on, he was planning his suicide.

    He left a suicide note. Under his bed, and online.

    Apparently to give closure, as it said at the end. All it did was make me blame myself more, because in the letter it said that my efforts were great, but..yeah. I became really distant, falling down my dark hole again.

    People treat my different now, and the very mention of ordinary things, noodles (his favorite food), orange(his favorite fruit and color) and what used to be my favorite show, Ellen. He loved that a gay person could be so awesome and kind and happy.
    The worst thing was that he started thinking of the way people treated him as normal. Like it was normal for people to accuse him of murder.
    I'm sort of shut off from the world now, and have decided to be a freelance writer. I quit college, and am living in Brooklyn. I have a giant Rottweiler to keep me safe, though, so i'm not worried. I'm semi-out of that dark hole, but whenever there are carefree moments in my mind, where im just laughing at funny stuff, a nagging voice goes 'He doesn't deserve to be forgotten'. But, guilt is not my number one emotion these days, and im doing not so okay, but thats a miracle for me compared to what i felt in January. I have also been diagnosed with anxiety, but it feels no different than before, when i thought everybody felt it.
    You're very brave, sharing your story, and its something i would never do. Even though i just did, nobody knows who i am. And this anonymous story-sharing thing is great therapy, since it seems that everybody else has fallen through a dark hole sometime in their life.

    RIP those 2,977 people who died on that horrible day. And RIP Pakistanis, Muslims, Arabs and anybody who lost their lives for a crime that they did not commit

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    1. Thank you so much my friend for taking the time to read what I had to say, for commenting and more importantly sharing your story with the rest of us. I can only imagine what you endured, the pain you must have felt, but thankfully you are still with us and continuing to fight on and being an example for others.

      Sorry for the loss of your friend too. I know this world can be cruel at times, and also very unforgiving, but all things considered I have no doubt that he was blessed to have you in his life and cared for you very deeply, no matter how things turned out in the end.

      Sometimes the biggest smiles are hiding the most paid, and unfortunately this world makes people feel bad when they ask for help, so all they can do is hide it and look for a way out.

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  15. This is a perfect picture of struggles I have shared. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you very much my friend. This isn't an easy topic to speak on, but it definitely is necessary.

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  16. Thank you for sharing something so personal, you people like hearing something about the person not just a post sharing something personal makes us tangible. I'm glad you came out of it and I'm sure blogging helps keep that balance because we are all so fragile no matter what out outer self says or does. If you had not come out of it I would not have met you!

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    1. Very well said my friend, no truer words have been spoken. I really appreciate what you said, it means a lot to me. For the record, the feeling is very much mutual.

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  17. Your words hit home.
    My sister in law killed herself February 16, 2016. I thought she was happy and ok. She retired unwillingly to stay home to take care of her sick husband. He is a mean old thing, never a nice word to her. Treated her like a slave. I think that having to take care of him 24/7 plus no full time job to be on her own plus just daily worries, got to her. She wanted no one to know her struggles, stuffing them in within. We tried to help but I guess we didn't know how badly she felt. Depression makes a person a pretty good actress. Now we are left with "why" and pain that we didn't do enough. Rosemary

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    1. I'm very sorry to hear of your loss my friend. You're absolutely right, people will do just about anything to conceal their pain, to not come of as weak and/or as someone with "mental" issues (thanks to society's standards). Needless to say, this is very unfortunate and extremely heartbreaking to say the least. I do hope that you, and your family are able to make it past these tough times. Much love.

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  18. I appreciate you taking your time to make this post. I'm also thankful you are around to be able to make it. I hope many people see this and see that things can and do get better. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you very much my friend. I really do appreciate your kind words, and the fact that you spent your precious time reading what I had to say.

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  19. Michael - Thank you for sharing your personal experiences. You are appreciate4d so much.

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    1. Thank you very much my friend. I really do appreciate it.

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  20. Painful and important...I'd love to reblog a portion of this on my blog with a link to yours....

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    1. Of course my friend, anything I can do to help. Thanks for the love and support.

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  21. Excellent piece. Being near the cliff edge is a horrible experience. In your heart, you know the leap really doesn't solve anything. But (in your mind) you think you have run out of options.

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    1. Thank you very much my friend. Your words are very wise, and absolutely truth. We need to be there for each other, love and look out for each other, not condemn nor run and hide at the first sign of trouble.

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  22. WOW! What a piece, Michael. Thank you for sharing your personal story and for offering hope and acceptance to others!! I struggle with a "silent" disease of sorts and always appear fine on the outside. There is a lot of pressure to ride it out and to smile. I have to say that for me, knowing that there are many worse off than I am does help. Obviously it does not work with depression. This makes me think about my daughter and makes me want to become more aware of her "moods" and figure out what is really going on. I hope you have a nice weekend! :)

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    1. Thanks you very much for the love my friend, I really appreciate it. I do wish you much success and good mental health. There's a lot of us who share the pain, but unfortunately due to society, we have to hang a smile on our face and pretend that everything is just peachy. Hopefully with time and perseverance we can change all that. You're a very smart woman, and your daughter is blessed to have you in her life.

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  23. Oh Mike, how many years can go by (19yrs to be exact) and to read this, I am there again. I have sat on both sides of this tale, and understand it way better than I ever wanted to. When I read this blog, it felt identifiable on so many levels. I was particularly affected by your description of how your mind works against you... and man do I know better than to allow suicide to be entertained for even a moment - but I have entertained the thought a time or two on my journey as a survivor. You don't get a free pass just because you know the cost of someone's suicide intimately. No, I'm not suicidal, nor have I ever truly been, but those thoughts come to everyone at some time or another. I have been depressed, both as a reaction to my husband's suicide (because suicide is a forever sort of thing - at least for me), and over the years as I dealt with the affect of his suicide on my self esteem, and my children. Oh, the roads I've walked alone because I couldn't trust myself to care for anyone, when I had no safe place to land because I couldn't put myself in anyone's care again, no matter how desperately I wanted and needed to; when I grew weak in my hope for the future without the courage or drive to be strong because my children had become adults. Twenty years ago, there was so much more stigma to suicide. I felt like a trail blazer if someone asked how he died, and I said, "he killed himself". I felt like I was shining a a spotlight on suicide's darkness. If I as a suicide survivor could say suicide out loud, it gave others the opportunity to ask the difficult questions - and communicate about it. I wasn't stupid, I knew that the people giving me condolences could relate to his choice, had thought about it themselves a time or two. And, honestly, I cannot tell you how often I have heard "he beat me to it", or, "I have thought of it myself". Its like they had an outlet to let it out, and say, "me too". To those people, I was a living example of the effects of suicide on loved ones. There were 350 people at his funeral, and I am still approached to this day by friends of his, and people that knew him when he was young, that cry and tell me they still think of him. Its times like that, 20 years later, that its sad to me that he didn't realize how much he was cared for, and the impact his death had. He was wrong, nothing is worth dying over, and no, "things WON'T be better for me, one day". As I walked this long and difficult road, I learned something really important, and so very simple, and it has been my mantra which I pass along whenever I sense that someone is struggling. "Be kind to yourself", and then I say it again, with eye contact and a light touch. I say it because I know how hard your mind can be on you. And then they don't feel alone in the darkness and feel that someone relates to them, and knows they are battling. And in that moment, I have shed a light in a dark place.

    Thank you for lighting a torch in the dark place of suicide and depression. Whenever someone does, I feel a joy inside at how far we have come, and I feel like someone noticed and supports the victims and survivors.

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    1. Tracey,

      First off, thank you so very much for taking the time to read what I had to say, and for commenting, I really appreciate it. I also want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing a piece of your soul with us, because like yourself, I truly believe that experiences such as these help us cope with the loss and better understand the overall situation.

      I am very sorry to hear of your loss. We all know that time can make dealing with the loss easier, but it definitely doesn’t permanently erase it from our minds or our hearts. Something like this will forever be with us, as you so eloquently stated in your comment.

      Your words are strong and full of much wisdom, and I really hope they speak to someone who truly needs to hear them.

      As you said, many of us know the dreaded sting of depression all too well, some who have lived to talk about it, such as yourself (thankfully), and sad to say others who have succumbed to its poison an extinguished their flame. The numbers are actually frightening, and in a world where there are so many options available for help to those who are fighting the battle, it’s a real shame.

      We have come a very long way when it comes to openly discussing things such as suicide, but unfortunately we still have a long way to go before we can truly say that we are where we need to be. As a whole, we still shy away from the topic and refrain from talking about it as freely as we should because of the powerful stigma that comes attached to it, but hopefully one day that will all change.

      I wish you much success and happiness my friend. Keep surviving and fighting the good fight.

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    2. Hi Mike,

      I came across this article in the London (Canada) Free Press, and although it deals with mild to medium mental health issues, I think that this is something that if it gains traction, will definitely help bring more awareness to the importance of mental health.

      http://www.lfpress.com/2016/05/02/no-appointment-needed-at-clinic-for-mental-health?fb_action_ids=10153999541051438&fb_action_types=og.recommends

      I'm so excited! Imagine a world that used mental health walk in clinics as much as they used physical health walk in clinics.

      T~

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    3. That's awesome! Thanks for sharing my friend. Something like this, if utilized across the globe, would tremendously benefit our world for sure. Keeping my fingers crossed that one day that could be a reality.

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  24. Great article, however, what does one do when they go for help from professionals and relatives -- and none of them give a hoot? I have had my psychiatrist (who has me on anti depressants) tell me: "While I don't want you to commit suicide, please do not use the medications I have prescribed as I will have to '..fill out a ton of paperwork'." Also, when I approached my siblings that I was having extreme financial problems and contemplating suicide, they both reacted by saying, "Go ahead and do it, we don't care." For the record, I have never done this before and have no history of asking for help of any kind." So, if one does "talk" to their friends or relatives about this dark subject -- and they do not follow through with the suicide -- those friends and relatives begin saying, "See, I told you he was bluffing." And it becomes a vicious circle. And the one time I called the "Suicide Prevention" hotline, I learned that it was an utter waste of time and a big mistake. The 19 year old volunteer that answered the phone was not trained and could not relate to a 55 year old man and what I was experiencing. Also, while on the phone, they traced my phone number and alerted the police department in my tiny town (900 people) -- and the police, paramedics and the fire department responded by pounding on my door. As the Jews said of the holocaust, "Never Again."

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    1. I'm so very sorry to hear about your troubles and hardships my friend, it should never be that hard to find/get sufficient help. Have you tried talking to a professional, like a true professional and not some worthless hack? I don't have all the answers, if I did I wouldn't have been in the position I have been in back in the day. I do hope and pray that things work out for the best for you. Stay strong and keep surviving.

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  25. Thank you for your very powerful and intuitivearticle. I lost my 17yr old daughter on 5/5/14. Just a few months prior, she was diagnosed with severe depression. She had anxiety too. She was a 'high functioning' depressed teenager. 4.4 GPA, Natl Honor Soc, Jr Class Treasurer, Editor in school paper, freshman mentor, 2 sport Varsity athlete, party host at Chuck E. Cheese's, volunteered for special needs soccer, a great listener, and very loving daughter. She left a 4 1/2 page letter saying she was sorry and to forgive her, there was no blame - she continued to take care of others even in her last moments just as she had when she was alive. As a mom, my heart aches because I could not save my only daughter. I've read many articles, research, talked to many people ... but your piece brought it all together. I get it more now than ever. And for that, I thank you. I struggle now with suicidal ideation because my heart is broken - I am broken. I now have anxiety and ptsd (I found her). It is a nightmare, especially now with the upcoming 2nd 'angel-versary'. A dark, dark day. The only thing that brings me any glimpse of peace is helping others that are suffering. I was recently certified to teach the 'Signs of Suicide' to educators, parents, students, community, etc. I am not ready to go out alone to do that as it is still a very emotional subject. But I will get there. I have also been an advocate for suicide prevention education for our teachers in our state. We expect one Bill to pass this session. But there is more work to do. That, keeps me grounded. But, the thought of joining Avery is always on my mind. I don't know how to live without her, but trying to live in a way to honor who she was and what she did in her short 17 years. Thank you for listening. Blessing to you ... keep swimming! <3

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    1. I am so very sorry for your loss my friend. I can only imagine what you're feeling. My heart goes out to you and yours.

      Thank you so very much for opening up and sharing a little bit of your soul with us, it is really appreciated.

      I have no doubt that your words will definitely help those in need.

      You're a real blessing in this world of ours! Taking something so horrible and dark and shining a light on it and making a difference. This planet would benefit greatly if there were more people like you in it.

      Keep surviving my friend, and never give up hope.

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  26. And, I respectfully request that we use 'died by suicide' which is preferred by the CDC and mental health professionals. Personally the word 'commit' is painful to hear and (imo) plays in to the stigma that surrounds suicide/mental health. Thank you.

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    1. I love your suggestion in regards to changing "commit" with "died by", because I agree that it would definitely make a difference and hopefully change people's mindsets.

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  27. I lost my dad to suicide about a year and a half ago. I've had a lot of love and support from everyone but I've also had a lot of shit from
    people who don't understand why my dad did what he did. I've been told he's in hell, he's a coward, and he didn't love me. Educating those who don't have a clue on the subject is so important. Ignorance and shaming is only making instances of suicide worse. Menta illness is REAL and we need get rid this stigma we have in society that it's not worth fixing or those who may be suffering should be ashamed and just deal with it themselves. I thank you for sharing these wise words that you've taken right from my personal experience. I hope it reaches someone in need and saves those who have fallen victim to this tragedy. I'm so happy to hear you have won the battle and that you are using your strength to pass on to others. Thank you so much.

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    1. I'm so very sorry to hear of your loss. Losing a loved one is never easy, no matter how it happens.

      I'm also so very sorry that you had to deal with such ignorance and hate, how horrible and totally not something you're deserving of. Unfortunately there are many who think the way those people you have experienced do, it's very sad and heartbreaking to say the least. Hopefully with time, and the strength of individuals such as yourself, this will change.

      Thanks so much for the love, I really appreciate it. Keep surviving and fighting the good fight my friend.

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  28. Thank you for writing this. I lost my daughter to suicide in May. She had been depressed but was embarassed to admit it to anyone. She thought she could handle it on her own. She was only 22. When I did notice she had been self-harming I tried my best to get her help. I made her a doctor's appt and she was put on anti depressants and on a counselling plan. I thought I was doing all the right things and she said she was starting to feel better. But, she didn't make it. I am absolutely heart broken and do not see how I will keep going without my beautiful daughter. Thank you for bringing awareness.

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    1. Thank you so very much for the love my friend, I really appreciate it. I'm really sorry for your loss, how horrible. Keep your daughter's memory alive, keep spreading the word and informing others of the travesty that is depression/suicide.

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  29. shannonheckman@hotmail.comAugust 10, 2016 at 4:38 AM

    hi
    First off great article,I wish what you say I had seen the signs,My brother committed suicide in March 2016 and it has been devastating to me....
    I've tried to put it behind me and move on its just so hard,We were only 3 years apart,We grew up together,we ate dinner together every night for 16 years,he was my son's only uncle as I could go on about him forever...I just wish like everyone else I saw the signs I wish I had one more day and now just such an empty feeling....
    but again I enjoyed your article thank you for that and stay strong

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    1. Thanks for the love and kind words my friend, I greatly appreciate that. I'm so sorry for your loss, that's very sad. I know it's not easy, but keep fighting the good fight for the memory of your brother.

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  30. Thanks for deciding to stay, to fight, to bless us with your wisdom, your strength, and encouragement. Your life means a lot in this universe. That's what encouraged me to continue to grace this world with my wonderful spirit.

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    1. You're beautiful my friend, a true blessing. Thank you so much for the love and encouragement,I really do appreciate it. Too bad more people in this world of ours aren't like you,just imagine how wonderful this place would be if they were.

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  31. Thank you for such a powerful piece. It's the first I've read from you. Really educational and put many things in perspective.My brother committed suicide and it was really devasting especially having to cope,explain to the kids while being strong. Glad you made the right choice. God bless you for using your experiences to help others.

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    1. I'm so very sorry to hear that your brother died by suicide my friend. I can only imagine how horrible of an experience that had to be for you and your family/friends, and how much pain your brother must have been feeling at that time. May he rest in piece and you and your/his loved ones find peace and solace over your loss. Thanks for reading what I had to say and for the love my friend, I really do appreciate it.

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  32. I'm bipolar and I can't even begin to count how many times I was ready to leave this earth. It's taken many years for me to even want to get out of bed in the morning. But it gets a little easier everyday and I still apologize to the people I love for hurting them with my horrible behaviour. But now I live and get through each day and sometimes I actually feel happy. I guess sometimes is better than not at all.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear of your plights my friend. I'm sure your loved ones understand and don't necessarily need an apology, they need you. Please stay strong and please stay with us.

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