One man’s story is proof that a single moment can forever alter a life. Especially when the end promises peace.
I’ve gone over this post no less than 10 times. I started it on March 10 actually. It’s gone through multiple edits in a month’s time. I guess I lacked the courage to hit “publish”. An event so personal should remain private is how I felt. What made me feel “okay” about finishing this post and finally putting it out there was finding an email I’d written and never sent. When I read it, all of the feelings came rushing back like a tsunami.
To anyone reading this – if you’re struggling with the darkness, know that a single moment can change everything.
This is my story.
I was alone. I was wearing a gray Jordan sweatsuit with a black skully and black bubble vest. It was freezing. But internally, I was a furnace. My mind was blank yet busy. Thoughts whipped back and forth, yet I was numb.
Where I was was unfamiliar to me. I was worlds away from the only borough I’d ever known. I knew when I filled my tank up that I would drive far. The desolation of the part of Long Island I wound up in was startling though. I didn’t belong there. Although in the unfamiliarity, I had this weird sense of comfort. I’m not sure how long I sat out there. But I did what I do when the thoughts overwhelm me. I started writing a letter.
Things were out of my hands. At first, I was kinda mad at God for not giving me a chance to handle things. I had changed my flight for that main reason. This was the first relationship that gave me purpose, direction, something to work towards. I know that I love her in a way that doesn’t fade or change. But it didn’t matter. I had to live with the fact that we were forever broken. No matter what I did, that part of my life was going to slowly become a memory.
It wasn’t just about her though. It wasn’t really about any relationship in my life. This depression was deeper than “having a few bad days”. It was the fact that I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and disgusted. But underneath all of that, I felt unloved.
To be unloved is to feel like you don’t matter. You’re invisible in a world of 7+ billion people. No one sees you. And because no one sees you, no one can help you. That’s how real my depression was that night. I felt like nobody would love me; agape. In that period of my life, I was needed, wanted, appreciated. I didn’t want to let it go. It’s devastating when something you hold so dear is snatched away from you.
It was the profound sense of loss that had brought me out to Long Island. I couldn’t go back and going forward didn’t seem possible. I was prepared to end the feeling of loss. (I want to note here that there’s a difference between clinical depression and situational depression. In some cases, suicidal thoughts are meant to end the pain; not treat the problem. Depression always has a root cause. Whatever your experience is, you have to dig deep to begin to heal.)
I didn’t want to suffer. I didn’t want to slowly fade to black. I wanted it to be over in a snap. With that state of mind, I don’t think I saw death as an “out”. It was a punishment I deserved.
The gun sat in front of me on the dashboard. I don’t know what goes through the minds of others who have taken their own lives. But I was scared. Terrified. I knew that once my hand touched the gun, there would be no going back. I sat there for a few minutes. I replayed certain conversations. I remembered certain jokes. I thought about the dreams I shared that were very real. The tears poured out. I hadn’t finished the letter, but I put my journal down and reached for the gun.
Then my phone vibrated. In the notification bar, I saw her name. Her text message contained an IG link.
Maybe she sensed something miles away. She didn’t know where I was or about my mindset that night. I can’t call it. The point is after all we’d been through, she was still worried about me. She still loved me. I mattered to someone. That never became more clear than right in that moment. I was slowly backing away from the edge one last time.
I’ve never been closer to committing suicide than I was on March 8th, 2015.
I won’t disrespect the memories of those who did go through with ending their lives. People leave behind loved ones who would’ve done anything to help that person see value in living. I know that I would’ve done all that I could to save my sister. However, some peoples’ lives have an end that no one can interfere with. It’s no question that suicide destroys families. It breaks relationships. But, in some unconventional way, suicide can also give someone else new life.
People don’t always walk around with red flags screaming “I need help!”. Not everyone benefits from professional help in the same way either. They’ll try to make their behavior match the typical response of “I’m fine”. Let that person lie to themselves. But because you truly love them, you’ll feel compelled to do something. Don’t judge them. Don’t tell them “it’s going to be okay/it could be worst/let’s pray about it” or any derivative of that. Just be present. And if that turns out to not be enough, understand that a person’s decision to take their own life is never about what you didn’t do.
What may have been a trivial conversation to that person is what saved me from picking up that gun. She could’ve never spoken to me again. But her heart, her grace towards me was divine intervention. It’s funny how people don’t know the gravity of what they do for others.
Since then, I gave my life to Christ on Easter Sunday. I’m getting baptized next month. I helped 2 players get signed to their agents. I’ve been as low as depression can take you. I wasn’t strong enough on my own, so God went to battle for me. That’s what I believe.
This isn’t a comfortable topic for people nor is it manly to say some of the honest things I’ve said in this post. But I went through that hoping that someone else can see that depression doesn’t have to win all the time.
**If your thoughts are turning to suicide please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Originally appeared at 30 and Beyond. Reprinted with permission.
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Photo credit: Flickr/Jeffrey