The subject says it all. This post will contain real, raw, vulnerable talk about depression and suicide. You have been warned.
In the wake of Chris Cornell’s death being ruled a suicide, there has been a lot of talk about the subject. This great article talks about “When Suicide Doesn’t Make Sense” and really got me thinking. I realized that the Chris Cornell situation resonates with me more than usual. Because I too have felt that darkness and I believe that I too fall into that category of people where others would be horrifically surprised if I ever committed suicide. I don’t think anyone would say or think “Well, it’s sad, but not surprising. He was someone who seemed to have a lot of demons to battle,” or anything.
Now just to head off any alarm bells or concerns, I am fine and I honestly don’t think I could or would ever kill myself. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it. That doesn’t mean I haven’t laid in bed at night and just wished for a quiet death in my sleep and to not wake up to another day. I have felt that darkness. The darkness that is a lie but seems so real. I have called a suicide prevention line. I have composed suicide notes in my head and once even wrote one out, not because I actually had intentions, but just to see if actually writing it helped as an exercise, or an emotional purge like many say journaling can be. I have contemplated the ways in which I would do it if I ever did. The most painless. Ways in which I would just disappear and never be found and no one would know what ever happened to me. I have fantasized about running away and starting a new life under a new identity and “Heath Allyn” just becoming a mysterious unsolved disappearance (though when followed through, this idea is laughable to me as I could never do that either).
When Owen Wilson attempted suicide, many had the same reaction as to Chris Cornell: wonder and disbelief. “But he’s rich and famous and has a great life!” At that time, I was lucky enough to also not understand. I didn’t condemn him or judge him at all, I just didn’t understand what could have possibly driven him to that. Then I distinctly remember a day not too terribly long ago when I came to the realization that I now understood. I didn’t want to. I longed for that time when it was a completely alien concept to me, but now the understanding was there.
I think a key point that people don’t seem to understand is that when people are driven to suicide, it is usually because the person legitimately feels like everyone and the world in general would be better off without them. It is a delusion but it is not out of selfishness or weakness or whatever other stigmas exacerbate mental illness and its ramifications. In fact, this is one of the key details that tells me I am not in danger of becoming another victim of mental illness. The fact that even in my darkest hours, I could never kill myself because I know how much it would devastate those who love me. There have been times I felt trapped by that, in fact. I didn’t want to be here any more but I “couldn’t do that to other people.”
I am generally a truly, genuinely positive person who strives to be a shining light in the world. I constantly work on myself and have come a long way. It’s not a front or a happy face I put forward to the world, it is truth. Few see, experience, know or hear about the darkness I’ve experienced and that’s why I think my suicide would fall into that category of shocking and unexpected. I don’t write this for sympathy, pity or because I need help or anything. I write this for everyone out there fighting their own demons and battles to let you know you are not alone. Every single person you see is probably fighting some degree of unknown, unseen darkness. People that you would never expect have anything in common with you. It’s a tragedy that help is so hard to get in this country and usually the hardest for those who need it most. I love therapy, but I can’t afford it (Update: I can now thanks to the amazing organization, Health Alliance for Austin Musicians). That’s probably a pretty common situation. But keep fighting. Keep searching. There are many avenues. Talk to friends. Call a hotline. Try yoga. Read Eckhart Tolle. See a psychic. Read a book. Listen to music (that battles the demons, not that feeds them). Watch movies (again, seek out material that helps support you, not that helps you spiral).
One thing I find so interesting about the human psyche and depression specifically, is that it is self reinforcing. It makes you avoid all the things that would help (out of protection for itself, I suppose) and seek out that which feeds it and strengthens it. I don’t care who you are, the world is not better without you. It needs you. If we can each bring even a tiny, dim light, together we can be a supernova. We can defeat the darkness, though it will try its hardest to convince you otherwise.