I’ve wanted to die.
That’s not true.
I’ve wanted the pain to end.
The emptiness, the hopelessness, and the worthlessness. I didn’t want to die, but if dying meant ending the pain then I would take that over spending the rest of my life feeling like this.
My friend Ben died by suicide the summer after our freshman year of college. Then Joe, just several months ago. Their deaths left me wondering if I should follow in their footsteps. The grief I felt after their passing was nothing in comparison to the overwhelming desperation I felt.
I wished more than anything that I could talk to them one more time. I wish I could have been there for them in that moment. I wish I could have taken away some of that pain. But most of all, I wish I could ask them if it was worth it.
The days and weeks after their suicides were filled with friends and family groping for answers. I remember listening to them ask “why?” Listening to them express their anger and frustration. Listening to people talk about how “selfish” suicide was.
It didn’t sadden me.
It made me angry.
Not because I was mad at Ben and Joe for doing what they did, but because I knew what it felt like to want to end it. I knew what it was like to think that it was the best way out, the only way out. Sitting there, in the midst of these conversations, I felt alone, drowning in the aftermath of something I had given so much thought to.
I was angry because from my perspective, no one seemed to understand what they must have been going through in that moment. It made me angry because the people closest to them didn’t see the signs. It made me angry, and scared, that maybe the people closest to me wouldn’t either.
It’s very different, experiencing suicide from the perspective of someone who is suicidal themselves. Where there is normally regret, I felt a sense of peace. Of course, I also felt the sadness of knowing a beautiful life was cut too short, and that longing to see them again. But, I also knew that whatever they were going through, whatever demons they were fighting, couldn’t follow them. I hoped beyond hope that they had finally found peace.
The aftermath of Joe and Ben’s death shook me to my core. I’ve been battling depression, anxiety, and self-harm since high school. I know first hand how hard it can be to ask for help, to reach out and talk about the demons in your head. It’s terrifying. You never know how someone is going to react.
So, instead of risking relationships, people like me tend to stay silent about their struggles. Yet if the shock of Joe and Ben’s death taught me anything, it’s that we can’t continue to Stay silent.
We can’t battle our demons alone. By sharing my story, I hope that somewhere, someone is inspired to reach out, and in turn, maybe share their story. I hope that by sharing my story, I can make the world feel a little less daunting, and a little less lonely.
I’m not alone in this fight. And neither are you.