I wasn’t going to share this with anyone. it was cathartic for me to write it, and I was going to keep it like that. I don’t want to be dramatic. I promise, promise, that’s not why I share these things. I am passionate about hearing and sharing stories, yes, but not about clickbait. (unless it’s a facebook status. sometimes I think I’m funny.) but I don’t share my feelings – which are sometimes very painful to write down, and sometimes very soothing to write down, but always leave me very vulnerable when shared with other people – to get attention.
I share them because I have learned by doing so that I am not alone.
because for some reason, to help me cope, or to help others cope, my creator allows me to word things in a way that have made other hurting people say, “I feel the same, but I didn’t know how to say it.”
I share my feelings because people have said to me, “I didn’t think I could talk about it, but now I will.”
because people have said, “I had no idea you felt those things. I thought I was the only one.”
because people have said, “I don’t struggle with depression, and I didn’t know how to relate to loved-ones who did. your writing has helped me understand.”
because people have said, “I tried to kill myself, and I don’t know how to tell anyone, and I need to talk.”
and I promise I don’t mean this to puff myself up in any conceivable way. I am deeply grateful for the chance to open a crack of light into someone’s darkness, someone who maybe doesn’t realize the scores of people who love them and want to be there for them but don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. I am deeply grateful for the chance to process through words what often feels like unbearable weight; without that outlet, I think I might have broken by now. I am deeply grateful to the people who surround me and ask me how I’m doing, and remind me that I am loved when they see me, and have never, ever, made me feel disgusting or annoying or too broken when I share what’s crowding my head. I know there are so many people who don’t have that, or who are so much more severely depressed than I am. I could have it so much worse. so I am grateful. I hope that when I tell you that most people are willing to love, you will be encouraged to talk about the hard things.
we can skip the backstory on my decade or so of struggling with depression, and the years where I felt guilty even calling it that because I wasn’t cutting or trying to kill myself. by God’s grace I’ve never gotten that far, thought I’ve thought about it a lot. I’ve decided, and then undecided. I actually just typed out the story of the first time I planned to take my life and then erased it. I don’t think you need to know that. I don’t think I need to talk about the details of the moment or the ways I decided to “do the deed” over the course of those hardest years. what matters, I think, is that I’m still here. and that you are, and you’re reading this, if suicide as ever appealed to you.
about a month ago was the first time I thought about ending my life in years. thoughts of, “I don’t want to be alive” and “this is all just too much” have come and gone, sure, but I’ve been in deep enough pits that I can see mere potholes for what they are, at least.
this last time it was a different approach, one that seemed logical and causal. I think it was the worst, because it was the hardest to talk myself out of, and the hardest to pinpoint where to lay the blame. I’m not going to tell the story of how my brain reached the conclusion of, “it would probably be best and simplest just to end things.” instead I’m just going to share what I wrote afterward, angry and exhausted.
you’re beautiful in theory. you sound like the clear air after I’ve been under the covers for too long, or the quiet darkness when I close my eyes after a long, weary day.
you sound like the easy way out, and the hardest decision. a little selfish, because you leave so many in pain in your wake. but right, because some things feel too heavy to keep on bearing.
you sound like rest. to be done with the pain and the heaviness. an end of the weariness and the sharp aches and the tears and fissures in my heart. what a thought. full to brimming over with sweet possibilities. and my savior at the end, of course. a shortcut to that joy.
these are the sweet things you tell me. these are your calls, your promises, your guarantees.
but Suicide, I need to stop listening to you, always beckoning me closer.
all the crowding thoughts, that tell me things won’t change, or need to change, I need to shut them out. they all lead to you. you don’t tell me how to fix things, only how to escape them. I don’t think Jesus wants me to escape the hard things.
I think he wants to redeem them.
maybe with my help.
maybe that’s why I can’t quit.
that’s why I have to stay, even though you’re pulling.
I’ve said no once, twice, half a dozen times. why do you insist? why do you try to change my mind?
what if this is all so much bigger than I am? what if I need to stay to do something, to bring God glory, to tell stories, and hear stories, and bless people and be blessed by people? what if I’m a thread Jesus wants to weave through this city and the lives of the people around me and the literary arts? what if, what if, what if? why would you want to take me away from that, pulling at me with your sweet whisperings, or your alternating emotions and logic?
one day it’s, “but it makes sense. you can’t fix this, you can’t be better; just cut it off now before you waste breath and time and effort. you know you should quit while you can. just make the rational decision.” and another day it’s, “you know this is too heavy to bear up under. you know you’ll break. it hurts too much, it always will. it will only get worse. end it. save yourself the heartache.”
but I won’t listen. I won’t obey.
you’re a pretty door I won’t walk through.
you’re not worth it.
it’s really hard to say what is worth it, on the hard days. so I’m making a list, of just a few things:
-little faces, splitting with love, and the cries of, “MISS LYDIA!” as they run on pitter-pattering feet toward me across a room.
-heads dropped on shoulders, looking at the stars, losing trails of thought and laughing about feelings.
-dancing in my room when I’m the only one home, pretending I’m Liza Minnelli in a cabaret club.
-knowing I’m the only one in the world who was trusted with someone’s secret.
-curling up in bed with pillows all around and a good book and a sense of total calm and real sabbath.
-crowds of strangers on a city street with stories etched on their brows and unknown eternities riding on their shoulders, full of endless possibility.
-the moment when the airline company sends you a confirmation on tickets you’ve just purchased, and you know you’re going to go somewhere.
-coming into a room and having someone grin and wave when they spot you.
-perfect, smooth pebbles worn down by salt water, and bright green leaves against dark wood after a spring rain.
-finding dried, pressed flowers in a book you forgot about.
-waiting for a polaroid picture to develop.
-the moment when the lights go dim in a theater and the orchestra quiets before the overture starts.
so goodbye, Suicide the Promising. what you have going for you is an end.
I’m going to choose beginnings.
you lose. you’ll always lose.
it’s World Suicide Prevention Day, the culmination of World Suicide Prevention Week.
two days ago I was at work and I got lost down a trail of ugly thoughts that ended with me saying to myself, “you are just weak and afraid, Lydia.” I think the worst things I’ve ever been told are the things I say to myself. I am so unkind. maybe we need to stop listening to ourselves.
you, reading this: you are beautiful. and valuable. and the God of the universe stamped you with his image because he loves you, and he died to save you because he thinks you’re worth it, and he calls you his beloved. he has made us his sons and daughters by giving up his own life for us.
and maybe you don’t believe that. or you know it’s true but it doesn’t seem like enough- like living isn’t worth the pain of the day-to-day, when everything is going wrong, or nothing is but you are the world’s biggest mess on the inside. I know those days. today I’m writing from a good place; life is crazy and I’m in the middle of my own heartbreaks and frustrations, but I know I’m okay. maybe you don’t know you’re okay. but today, I want to stand in the gap for you. today I know you’re brilliant and you have purpose, and you are a gorgeous, unique, funny, strange, worthwhile human being. there are people who love you, or who will love you, people who will hurt with you and hold your hand if you let them. and there is a world around you that is in need of you. a neighbor who will need help up the stairs, or starving children who need your rescue plan. there is a place that you are meant to fill on planet earth. don’t quit on humanity yet.
don’t quit on me.
I’ll see you tomorrow.
p.s. I wrote something, this summer, when I was in a dark place. it’s short, some weird fiction that deals with depression. maybe it’ll speak to you. maybe not. you can find it here.