This month has been a rather tumultuous one, and I am not sure how to talk about it, but I will try my best to lay it out for you.
The whole rollercoaster began when my fiancee and I decided that it was best for us to break up and go our separate ways.
Not in an “I hate you, and I never want to see you again” kind of way.
But more in a “we realized that we have different goals in life and that we might come to abhor each other in the future if we don’t do anything about it now” way.
In one sense, it would have been easier if we hated each other.
Then at least we could have screamed, yelled, and thrown things at each other, worked out our dark sides, and begun the recovery process afterward.
But that was not the case.
Instead, it was an act of love and respect.
Because I have seen what the denial of these thoughts and feelings can do to a relationship, and I respect her too much to let us go down that road.
So before we ended up at each other’s throats, we decided, in great agony, to end our relationship, and go our separate paths.
It’s a strange feeling because the only thing that really changed was the title, a Facebook status, really.
The feelings remain lingering in the background, like an ember giving off a steady glow after the fire has burned itself out, but we are no longer in a committed relationship with each other, and that took a toll on me and affected my work.
But after a while, it got better. Mostly because I had a lot of work to do, which allowed me to forget about my private issues for a couple of hours per day.
I started sleeping better, I got assignments done, and I managed to work out regularly. I even managed to take a long walk with my now ex-fiancee and talk things through.
The first week was rough, the second week was better, but I was doing alright when a friend wrote to me and asked if I had seen Michael (not his real name) recently.
The Second Crisis
I hadn’t seen him in a while, so I answered her back and asked why she was wondering if I had seen him.
- That is when she told me that he was dead.
There had been an ad out on Missing People‘s Facebook page about him, asking where he was and if anyone had seen him.
It had his picture and everything.
But when I got the news, they had removed it and replaced it with a message saying that he was found, deceased.
When I got the message, I was on my way out to work, and I was about to hit the shower.
Needless to say, I found it hard to breathe, let alone continue with my day.
But I had important meetings, those that you just can’t cancel, and people who needed me, so I took the most awkward shower in my entire life, locked my front door, and went to work.
In between meetings, and in the middle of working on a project, I was trying to get in contact with me and Michael’s friends, trying to figure out what had happened.
At this point in time, I had no idea he had killed himself, but I suspected it because he had talked about his depression for years, so I knew he wasn’t feeling well.
After I had managed to talk to a couple of friends, it was confirmed.
- He had walked out of his apartment, into the woods, tied a rope around a tree, walked off a ledge, and ended his suffering.
Later, I managed to talk to the person who had found him, who, unfortunately, was one of my and Michael’s friends, too.
He gave me the final details, and later at his house, he showed me Michael’s suicide note.
Michael had talked about how he didn’t want to live, but that he was talking to a professional about his problems, and that he was going to take the proper medications to try and balance things out.
It seemed to work.
But after years of struggling, not getting the help he thought he needed, and remembering a broken childhood, he walked out into the woods, tied a rope around his neck, and ended his life.’
And it crushed us all.
Write His Story
I made a promise to him that day, and to other people who are struggling with crippling depression, that I was going to write his story, and leave no stone unturned.
But unfortunately, now is not the time. I haven’t recovered yet, and I wouldn’t do him justice if I put together something that doesn’t tell his story perfectly, so I’ll let a few months go by before I begin that work.
What I have been thinking about, and what I want to write about now, today, is all the mental exercises that people throw around, say that they practice every day and that they claim work for them.
All of these exercises are easy when your bus is a few minutes late, your partner is throwing a tantrum, or when your boss is a jerk.
But when you and your love decide to break up your relationship or when your friend decides to kill him or herself, then those ancient exercises are not so easy to implement.
However, here is where they are put to the test.
In these situations, you get to test their real strengths.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t feel any sadness or pain.
Especially since free will is an illusion anyway, so it’s not up to us to decide.
What is up to us to decide, however, is how long we allow ourselves to dwell in it.
How long will we stay under the water and struggle under our emotions?
Are we going to mourn our lost relationships or are we going to celebrate them?
Are we going to become victims of our own sadness or are we going to rise above it?
Are we going to love fate or are we just going suffer through it because we have no other choice?
Find Your Own Way
I am not telling you how to handle the death of your loved ones, I am not going to ask you to read articles about ancient methods on how to handle adversity and thrive in it like there is some simple solution to the problem.
- It’s not easy. But you don’t have to make it harder either.
I would be a liar if I said that I love this just because Nietzsche wrote about it in one of his books.
What I am saying, however, is that you can use these tools to move past these obstacles, find some light in the process, and become stronger by doing so.
The difference isn’t how or if you react emotionally.
Because you will.
The difference is if you allow yourself to stay weak or if you find a new angle that you can work with so that you can turn it all around, and begin to repair yourself.
So that you can become antifragile; something that grows stronger each time it breaks.
This month has undoubtedly been one of the hardest, most devastating months for me to live through, and it has only been a few hours since I got the news that Michael had ended his life.
I am suffering from these losses, but I am also looking for a way out so that I can look at it from afar, begin to see the beautiful parts that lay dormant under all the grime and dirt that cover the love buried deep below the surface.
Here is where you put your mind to the test, and all the mental exercises that you have picked up along the way.
They are not going to cure you like a miracle, but they can, however, allow you to repair yourself faster, and even find something beautiful in the process.
Mourn those who you have lost, but spend some energy trying to get back on top so that you can begin to feel love, appreciation, and some meaning, too.
Otherwise, we are left by the wayside crying ourselves to sleep, and that will only prolong our suffering.
And in the end, if everything else fails, all your experiences are material for you to use in your work.
Perhaps your experiences can help other people go through the same process, or even stop someone from doing something irreversible.
One Last Thing
No matter what happens in life, if you look at it from the right angle, there is a lesson to be found.
No matter how weird it feels to write these words, since I am still torn apart by these experiences, this is the way I am going to recover and even learn, from this.
I am going to miss both of these people, but I am not going to let this bring me down.
I will allow the Suffering to tire itself out, then I am going to start looking for the love, and become stronger in the process.
Because the next time someone dies, I can rely on myself more, and perhaps be the person who other people can lean and rely on to take them through the pain and the suffering.
Just like my friend who found Michael dead said
“I think it was for the best that I found him. I have found other friends who had committed suicide before, so I knew how to handle it.”
This is both excruciating and beautiful at the same time.
It’s not going to get any easier, but we don’t have to make it harder either.
Live through the suffering, and learn to love it.
That is, I think, how you grow stronger and more resilient in the face of adversity.
Take care, and please, please, please:
If you are depressed, if you have a plan, time and date, and a thought-out way on how you will do it, seek help.
Suicide is final.
Talk to someone or call the suicide hotline.
Get through it, and become antifragile; grow stronger from every fall.
I really hope you stick around so that we can talk again.
Take care, my friend.