A few years ago (maybe 10 at this point) my wife and I were headed in opposite directions. She was raising a family and I was still in party mode. The wife mentioned going to therapy to work some things out. My first reaction was HELL NO, I’M PERFECT AND YOU ARE BROKEN AND THERAPY IS GIVING UP. So, we went and met with this older woman (had to be late 60s, early 70s in age) and she was awesome. Once I finally started to open up and complain she would say “Who gives a shit about this or that” or “Why the fuck do you care?” I thought or her as this nice older lady, sort of a grandmother type, but she had the mouth of a trucker.
This old lady completely changed my mind on therapy. She challenged me in a way I had not really ever been challenged. She called me on my bullshit and she helped me out a ton. She showed me I wasn’t weak for having certain thoughts.
Of course, she died while we were still seeing her so the wife and I always joke about how we killed her…
I have also gone to therapy on my own since. I never really thought I needed it by myself because I have never really had any “harm myself” thoughts. I thought a therapist was reserved for people who were at the end of their rope (like the wife and I were at the points we went to therapy). I always saw therapy as someone who can’t figure themselves out and needed someone else to put them back together. Why couldn’t they just be happy? The first few times I went I would sit in the waiting room and think “Wow, that person waiting must be really screwed up”. But, after a few times of talking to this stranger and really opening up and being honest with her I would find myself leaving there with a little extra pep in my step.
I used to think that the people who thought about or even attempted suicide were incredibly weak. I never could walk in their shoes, because I would always just think if you didn’t like your life, change it, get a new pair of shoes. Not really knowing that their life might be fine, they could be happy with the people in it, but no one could see the big huge boulders they were carrying around.
I never really understood it until I heard a suicide story from a friend of mine. Now, to me, this person was always smiling, always happy and always laughing. Well, the day before my wedding in 2003 she had planned to end her time here. For whatever reason, whatever strength she found, she didn’t do it. She came to my wedding and the next day she checked herself into a hospital and got treatment.
So, on the day that I was the happiest I have ever been, there was someone there walking around in a completely different space. There was someone there fighting just to stay here.
It’s still very hard for me to understand how someone could get to that point, only because I never have. Only because when I quote a line about “the sun will rise” or something like that I truly mean it. The day could really suck for me, but I have never gotten that close to empty before.
This person is a complete ray of sunshine in my life. I don’t get to see her that often, only a few times a year, but I do always wonder if they know how awesome it is they are here. My daughter sings and acts in a Broadway style summer show ever year with her and her two awesome kids. The show is always great and my daughter is so incredibly lucky to get to watch and learn from her. Her voice (besides my lovely, talented, beautiful daughter’s) is my favorite voice to hear. The funny part is it always has been. I don’t love her voice because I almost lost it, I loved it long ago, and now I love it because my daughter gets the same joy I do from it. Her choice to be here and for my daughter to get to share a stage with her once a year is truly a gift.
So, while I don’t really understand depression at all, I do know that talking to someone is always a good first step. The only other thing I would say is it you are like me and an “I’ll try again tomorrow” type person, the easiest thing we can do is start by telling people what they mean to us.
I started to write this story not even knowing it was World Suicide Prevention Day. I reached out to that friend of mine and asked if she minded if I mentioned her in my story and of course she said yes. I checked facebook because I had a notification and I see that she wrote something about #WorldSuicidePreventionDay. I mean, life is so beautifully coincidental sometimes.
This past weekend I was at a wedding with lots of my favorite people on this planet. Friends who make you happy to be here, people who warm your soul. I love weddings, but they are always a reminder for me of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. They remind me that a smile isn’t always the international sign for happiness.
Lots of battles are fought quietly every single day. Many people just put one foot in front of the other and don’t know how they will get through to fight another day tomorrow. To those people I would say keep pushing and find the courage to reach out to a professional. They are literally here to save lives. I’m sure your story is way more interesting than mine.
I know this probably sounds corny or preachy coming from someone that doesn’t have first-hand experience with depression or suicidal thoughts but maybe, just maybe there is something worth being here for. Maybe you just can’t see it yet, keep looking.
Every year I get rewarded with hearing a voice sing on a stage that makes my heart happy. Find your rewards, and spread whatever love you have as far as you can. I’m lucky I get to use this platform to highlight some people in my life and mention what they mean to me. It’s easier for me to write than it is to say out loud. Let your message be heard, you never ever know who is listening..