I had my breakdown almost three years ago now. I was severely depressed and dealing with both active and passive suicidal ideations and although I had started therapy, I soon learned that an hour of support a week was not going to cut it. I didn’t know what I would do all those nights alone, when the darkness of my thoughts far outweighed the darkness of the night air. I never want to be a burden so I kept as much to myself as possible, subsequently leaving me no one to talk to, which is where the crisis line came into play. As long as I watched what I said, it was a way to vent to a stranger, a non-judgmental ear, who would not feel burdened by my words, just provide a safe space to both speak and listen. I tried numerous different numbers, through a variety of networks and agencies and aside from being put on hold for up to 40 minutes, the people I encountered at the other end of the line were calm, respectful and generally kind…but one thing was missing; a true sense of understanding. The words said to me, throughout all the agencies, sounded like they were coming from a training manual which left very little room for compassion or empathy. Nevertheless I listened to these seemingly empty words and by the time I got off the phone I was either too tired or too frustrated and preoccupied by this approach to helping people to bother putting any plan into action. So off to bed, I would go, to cry myself to sleep.
One night, after hanging up the phone with yet another crisis volunteer, I realized not only had I memorized the “script” that was being said to me repeatedly from number to number, but that these words were vague and non-specific to my actual crisis, and perhaps that was the reason they never really seemed to sink in. I sat and thought for a moment. Instead of hearing that repetitive nonsense, what exactly was it that I needed to hear at my moment of crisis? What words would help to lift the blanket of darkness that envelops me during those instances? What might give me a glimmer of hope or provide me with that last bit of strength I need to resist the impulsive urges that call me late at night when I am alone? In the darkness of my room, I reached over, grabbed my laptop and began to write.
The next day, I reread my words and immediately decided I could not post this new blog on my site. After all, did I sound like I was speaking for the masses? I don’t voice anyone else’s opinion but perhaps I had crossed the line this time and these words reiterated only what I would want to hear which may not comfort anyone else at all. I put it in a writings folder on my computer and just like the dozen others, assumed they would never be read again.
A few weeks later, after pulling myself far enough out of the hole to see a small patch of light, I slipped and once again found myself at the bottom. Not knowing where else to turn I found myself right back in the same cycle of repetitive phone calls that often left me feeling worse rather than better. One particularly bad night, I had finally had enough of feeling like I was not heard or understood. There had to be other people who went through these types of experiences; there was no way I could be completely alone in my thoughts, so I went back onto my laptop and opened the file with the blog I had written just a few short weeks ago. I read it over and over again until my own words sunk in enough to calm me down a bit, and at that moment I decided that if these words were enough to help me, what is the harm of putting them out there for someone else, in the off chance that they might actually get read, and do some good. I posted the article on my blog, pinned it on my twitter page and even sent it to The Mighty to see if they would be interested in publishing it.
The following morning, I noticed a few more messages than usual in my Twitter inbox, and to my astonishment, by the afternoon The Mighty had my article up and published. I went to bed feeling a tiny sense of purpose that is otherwise buried in tar. When I awoke, I had over twenty messages from random strangers and as I read them I felt tears well up in my eyes. All of these people were feeling or felt like I did and the reality that I might not be alone in my darkest thoughts started to sink in. These people were saying thank you to me, saying how my blog stopped them from acting impulsively or that they no longer felt alone, and for the first time in their lives they felt both heard and understood; that they felt a sense of much needed validation and a saw just enough of a spark of hope to get them through the night.
That was almost three years ago now, and these messages, these words of kindness and appreciation have not stopped. If anything, they have actually gone up as exposure of the article has vastly increased. Now as much as this blog may sound like it is a self-indulging pat on the back, it truly is not. I am humbled each and every time someone reaches out to me in the moments that their lives may or may not hang in the balance, and I want to say thank you. Thanks to each and every one of you who had the bravery, the trust and the willingness to confide their darkest and deepest secrets and traumas to me…a virtual random stranger. Thank you for being strong and for reaching out your hand when you least expect someone to take it. Thank you for allowing me to believe in you and perhaps instill a bit of that in yourself. Most of all, thank you for taking the time, in your moment of crisis to read my words, and know how honored I am, to have those words reach you.
Nothing remains the same. Life is a flow of constant change, so please believe what I said. Things will not always be as they are, and you are going to be ok.