I’m not suicidal, but I used to be. I wish I knew five years ago what I know now, and I feel like I have to share it– So I’m sorry if this sounds preachy, because I really don’t mean for it to be.
When I was five my sister, Jen, killed herself with an intentional drug overdose. A decade later I was thinking about doing the same. I’d sit on the floor of my room every day after school and try to think of reasons not to end my life, with no luck. A couple of times I held a knife to my wrist, even though, if I really killed myself, I don’t think I would have been a cutter. The only reason I didn’t go through with it was because I saw what my sister’s death did to my mom–for nearly a decade she couldn’t say prayers at church without breaking down in sobs–and I didn’t want to put her through the same thing again.
Things would have been easier if I had just one thing to hold onto–good grades, a few friends, a flair for art or theatre or sports. But it seemed like I was capable of absolutely nothing that was good or valuable. I did poorly in school because I didn’t see the point of getting into a good college if I would spend my time there alone in my dorm room. I tried to be social with people but couldn’t even see a glimmer of friendship.
I’m a recent college graduate now, and my life has completely changed. I got decent grades at a decent school; I have many close friends; I have a decent job at a newspaper and I have a beautiful wife whom I love very much.
I wish I could say I found some trick or secret, but I didn’t. I pushed myself, and I failed a lot. Things changed so slowly: The kid who seemed oddly interested in me during breaks in class gradually became my closest friend. He introduced me to other friends, and one night we all hung out with the woman I’d eventually marry. Friends gave me the confidence to write for the college newspaper, and I was surprised to discover I had a flair for journalism, which convinced me I was smart enough to do well in class. My journalism experience and decent grades got me a pretty good job at a newspaper after I graduated.
Here’s what I meant to say–I realized that suicide is what happens in the complete absence of hope. In high school I was absolutely convinced that nothing good would ever happen to me. What I’ve learned–and this is so important–is that that’s an illusion. It’s bullshit. When I was in high school I never, ever, ever could have believed that any of these things could have happened to me. But we have no way of knowing what the future has in store, and, with enough time, we can absolutely amaze ourselves.