Suicide is coming too close lately. I hear it’s death rattle knocking at my door. No, I’m not suicidal; but it wasn’t that long ago that I was. So when the news of suicide comes into the little bubble I occupy in our vast universe, it has an effect on me like never before.
A couple of months ago, a person sadly took their life by jumping into morning traffic from one of the higher freeway overpasses in town. That overpass is such a familiar part of home and it instantaneously became the site of an incredibly tragic moment. I pass by that overpass on my daily commute. I have passed by that same overpass so many times in my 32 years of life, that I can’t even count them for you. I was a barely permitted teen that white knuckled through rush hour traffic in that portion of the freeway, terrified of the towering levels of vehicle filled concrete and the median whizzing by immediately to my left, with my dad sitting to my right (probably even more scared). It happened so close to home.
I learned about the suicude before it hit the news because one of my best friend’s husband’s watched it happen on his way to work. Of course, it wasn’t long before reports spread like wildfire. The comments on social media varied wildly between understanding and compassion, insensitivity, and obnoxiously offensive and callous (from good riddance, to attention grabber, to should have thrown themselves off the Dam, with a side of eff you for ruining my commute folks – yeah). The suicide was shocking enough, but the responses from people in my home town were worse (way to further stigmatize mental illness, Vegas). While I was shocked and saddened by it all, the day moved forward.
The next morning, shock turned visceral and physical as I made my way to the office. I took the same route as always, on auto pilot as I mentally prepared for the day. I was not prepared for the way that my breath caught in my throat as I rounded that short stretch of road and imagined a body falling from the sky. I was not prepared for the overwhelming anger as the vilest of the vile comments came flooding back to my mind. I was not prepared for the incredible anxiety and sadness that I felt being so close to where that poor soul left this Earth. I couldn’t help but weep for them, their family, and myself.
More recently, a very dear friend of mine reached out to me as she dealt with a mixture of shock, grief and guilt after a high school friend’s husband committed suicide. I didn’t know the gal that well, but my friend and I are soul sisters; we have known each other for 20 years; I came back to my relationship with God in the small church she planted in Delaware; we have shared our darkest demons with each other; and I just plain love her. So, her hurts are my hurts and she’s been going through a lot as it is. While I have not had the same reaction I had to the last suicide, it’s still too close to home because of how it affected someone I care so much about.
I never thought I would be able to relate in an almost intimate way with a person that ended their own life. But as my life fell out from under me a few years ago, I became quite familiar with the level of sheer desperation and despair it takes to legitimately contemplate suicide.
When I had a psychotic break after the fraying rope that held my sadness and terror at bay for 29 years finally gave way, when I relived all of the abuse in vivid detail for the first time in my life, when I finally realized that my own mother molested me, I wanted to die. When I also lost the two most important and supportive people in my life at the time – my boyfriend who I thought I was going to marry and my best friend – because of how I acted as my mind failed me in the worst way, I simply couldn’t stand the thought of being a part of this world anymore.
As I sat for what felt like hours with a steak knife to my wrist, all I wanted was for the memories and emotions to stop. I needed relief, peace, an escape from all of the pain. I had tried everything, I thought and I just couldn’t see any other way out.
Thankfully, I had hastily saved this adorable little fur face from the pound in a brief moment of (slight) sanity that month.
Okay, so getting her was also kind of an eff you to the ex boyfriend, because we had talked seriously about getting a dog when he moved in, but I digress.
Little did I know, my crazy freckled dog would save my life that night. I’m convinced that, even as young as she was, she picked up on what I was feeling because right as I intended to dig the blade into my skin, she forced her little muzzle between my hands and sat at my feet, insisting that I love on her with an immediacy she had never shown before. The debilitatingly dark trance I had put myself in was broken just long enough for it to dawn on me that it really wasn’t just about me; I had a responsibility, if to no one else, but that little face, not to kill myself.
I put the knife on the table.
The feelings I had been having that night didn’t go away automatically. I still struggle with all of it, and will continue to struggle. But had it not been for The Spotted Freckledog, I would have given in to my demons. I would have, in an instant, become an (unreported) abuse statistic. Though life really is worth living, I was immesurably close to being the jumper. I was this close to making my own friends and family experience the unfathomable shock, grief and guilt over my death.
I’m eternally grateful that my dog saved my soul.
Nowadays, when my darkness resurfaces and interferes with my life, even a little, I’m terrified of returning to that hell. It’s why I stick with therapy, why I write, why I create. It’s why I have finally decided to have weight loss surgery to free myself of the chains of morbid obesity brought on by the abuse. It’s why I’m here sharing this with you right now. I’m afraid that if I don’t let it out, it will consume me again.
I know this post might make you uncomfortable, and I’m sorry for that, but I was truly lost and felt like I had no one to turn to (I wish I had been a part of this wonderful blogging community at the time). My hope is that if someone chances across my blog in their own desperation and sees that, although it’s not always easy, life can go on, that there can be joy despite suffering, and that they are not alone in this world, it will break their dark trance just long enough that they, too, put down the knife. Maybe my suffering won’t have been for nothing.
Maybe no one will ever needs my words in that way (I certainly hope that is the case). But if you happen to be that person, please know that you are not alone. I am here thinking of you and I am here to talk to. I can’t make it all better, but I can listen without judging. Please don’t give in. Please keep fighting. Please reach out, spill your guts, and live this oddly magical life with me. It’s worth it. You are worth it. 💛