I came across suicideproject a few months ago and have read it a handful of times. I’m always deeply struck by the posts and comments. What usually goes through my mind is a) how similar the poster’s thoughts and feelings are to each other (and myself), b) maybe I can be of some help? Tonight I thought I’d share a bit of my story with you. I’m doing this in part to help myself, but also to hopefully be of help to others here.
Like many (all?) of you, I come from a messed up family. I’m a 48 yr old man. I have three young adult daughters. I was married for 20 years but am now divorced. My father killed himself when I was 19 after numerous attempts throughout my childhood. He was severely mentally ill. I was also sexually abused by my older brother, but that pales in comparison to the emotional and psychological abuse, and the totally f’d up childhood I had. I went to my first shrink at the age of 14. In those days it was unheard of for a kid to see a shrink. Things have changed a lot. Therapy is much more accepted and common in society today. I have been in and out of therapy throughout my life. After about a 13 year break without any, I am now back in therapy again because I still want to work on things and improve my life. I know suicide well. It’s been a part of my family and my thoughts my entire life. As the surviving child of a parent who made numerous attempts, then finally did kill himself, as well as someone who throughout his entire life has had (and still has) thoughts of suicide.
I’ve never actually attempted to kill myself, but I did hurt myself often, lived a very dangerous and reckless life (e.g. had about 13 car wrecks in my teen years, was dealing drugs w/ gangs, etc), and was a major drug addict and alcoholic until I finally quit everything in my mid-30’s. When I was 18, I did cut my wrists and took a bunch of pills (Quaaludes), and ended up in the E.R., stomach pupmed, etc. But I really wasn’t trying to kill myself. I was just trying to feel. It was my way of crying. You know what I mean. Because of that, and other problems, my parents sent me to a mental institution when I was 18. Interesting experience. I was there for 6 months. It was the first step in a long, long road to changing some of my life for the better.
Here’s the sad truth: I have been in severe mental pain and anguish my whole life. That’s a fact. But I’ve also had a lot of pleasure and wonderful experiences too! I’ve mainly poured all my energy into being a good father. I’m very close with my kids and love them very much. In spite of all the problems, I’ve managed to pull that off. It’s by far my greatest accomplishment.
When I read the posts on this site by (I assume) mainly teenagers saying they want to kill themselves, it makes me very sad. I really do understand how you feel. I know the pain so well. I get it. I believe each person should have the right to end their own life if they choose, but I really wish you would reconsider and seek help. You’re so young! Here’s what I can tell you. In MY case (doesn’t mean it’ll be yours, but that’s all I have to go on), despite all the pain, I’m glad I’m still alive and I’m glad I didn’t end my life (or get killed) when I was younger. My life is still very painful for me and it probably always will be. I accept that. Like a handicap. That’s just the way it is for me. So I do what I can given who and what I am.Â It’s hard to accept that reality, but I feel better when I do. It gets better. You hear me? As you get older, your pain will probably decrease. IT GETS BETTER!!! Not for all of you – but for many of you. The teen years are freakin’ brutal. Don’t lose sight of that truth! I know it doesn’t seem like there’s any hope for you or for things to get better, but in many cases, there IS a reason to be hopeful. I’m living proof of that!!! When you’re young, you have no power. Bad things happen to you that are out of your control. When you get older, you’ll have more power over yourself and your life. Sure, growing up sucks in many ways too, but trust me – it’s better than the teen years for people like us. You’ll be able to get help more easily. Also, when you get older, you will likely feel things less intensely, so the pain will likely be less.
That’s pretty much what I wanted to say, but feel free to ask me questions, e-mail me, whatever. I want to help you. You’re not alone. I’ve been around people like us my whole life. Yes, we are in the minority, but you’d be surprised how many people there are who have similar thoughts and feelings. Similar backgrounds and experiences. As you get older, you’ll see that this is true. When you’re younger, you think it’s just you going through these tough things. It isn’t. The older you get, the more people you’ll talk to, and you’ll see that there are so many people who have had lousy childhoods, bad parents, bad things happen to them, are mentally ill, messed up sexually, etc. Somehow, that makes me feel good knowing I’m not so unique in my suffering.
The way I look at it is this: I have chosen to be a hero. My heroism is that I won’t kill myself. I will live with the emotional and psychological pain, the way a cancer patient or someone with a physical disease puts up with pain and hardship. That is my promise to myself. That no matter how bad things get, I will endure it, so that when I die my story won’t be “He killed himself – just like his father”. I wish I didn’t have this burden to bear. I wish things were different. But they aren’t.