October 2, 2010
For half a decade I have been sharing my deepest and often times my darkest thoughts with anyone who has wandered onto my path. I have shared my life, my private thoughts and my most personal of emotions in the singular belief that to do so would somehow help the people who are capable of understanding them.
There have been times in these past five years that I have been granted the immense honor of meeting people who have been touched by my life in written form. As an artist of words, I am moved by just how much of an impact something so simple as being open about myself, can really affect the people who read about me. When I started doing this, I never honestly believed that I could affect someone’s life, least of all not touch them so beautifully. One cannot understand the intrinsic threads that connect the hearts of human beings until you stumble across them by complete accident.
For too many years I felt as though I was drowing in a self-created ocean of despair and I fully believed that I was alone in everything that I felt and everything that I contemplated. I didn’t think that anyone could have possibly ever understood what I felt inside or what I had experienced in my past. I looked out into the faces of the people who came and went in my life, knowing that none of them could ever see the world through my eyes. What I didn’t stop to think about, was that in my effort to vent my feelings and thoughts onto paper or on the internet, I was opening a window into my life through which people could see the world as I did. A point of view that turned out not to be mine alone, but a vantage point from which many see the world.
I came to understand that I was actually not alone. That was an incredible feeling. To think that you are alone in something makes it a hundred times worse than it really is and can drain any hope you have that it will get better. So if you can look around you and see that there are other people in this ocean, just as chaotically lost in their suffering as you, then suddenly you won’t feel so hopeless. It may not solve the problem or heal the hurt, but it gives you a little extra courage to keep fighting, to keep swimming. You realize that this isn’t a battle within yourself, it’s a war within everyone and you’re all in it together.
Like most everyone else, I’ve heard about the young men (some of which were young enough to be called kids) who committed suicide or attempted suicide only to die later from the injuries they sustained. Suicide is such a personal topic for me, I have written about it so many times and despite that, I am never convinced that it’s enough. It’s been eight years since I tried to poisen myself and it’s been five years since I was hospitalized to prevent me from trying to hurt myself a second time. For everything that I have learned, I am still unable to convey the full spectrum of how someone falls down to that low a point in life that they no longer want to live. It’s so hard to explain that I think it can only be understood if you have been there yourself.
There are so many factors in play that lead up to suicidal thoughts. For every victim there is a story as individual as the person writing it. Suicide is the destination of more than one winding road. There are many paths that lead into this one direction and many people travel different roads to get there. Many situations in life can lead us to feel lost, abandoned, hated, hopeless or defeated and all of these things can be created by a myriad of other happenings.
The stories of those teens is personal to me because I am gay. It’s personal to me because I once felt shame for being gay. I was lucky however because I didn’t have anyone ostracizing me. Instead I caused me my own grief, I hated myself for who and what I was. From the point of knowing I was gay to the day that I became open about it to everyone, was a period of nine years. I will never know, but I can only imagine how it would feel to be that young and not only have to deal with the turmoil of understanding yourself, but to also have to deal with negative pressure from other people. It honestly doesn’t shock me that they felt there was no other way out than suicide.
We all feel pressure as youth from our peers, that’s a part of growing up in a social atmosphere. However, when we are faced with personal battles and social battles at the same time, the effect of these two things is a lot for one kid to deal with, often times its too much for them to deal with. And quite frankly they shouldn’t have to deal with it on their own.
I’d like to lay blame on the other youth who ostracized these victims, but honestly a lot of blame needs to be put on the parents of the youth who were causing problems and on the schools for being too lax in dealing with them. And the rest of the blame should go to society for not being representative of what American youth should aspire to be. If adults act like adolescents, then how are adolescents supposed to know how to be mature and respectful themselves?
Suicide is a problem. It’s a problem for teens, it’s a problem for adults and the elderly. Whether you are a guy, a girl, whether you are straight or gay, religious or non-religious, healthy or ill, happy or lonely, brave or scared, whether you are employed, unemployed, rich or poor, a lawyer, a soldier, a doctor, a teacher, none of it matters. Everyone is at risk and no one deserves to feel as though they have no other way out.
If someone you know has expressed suicidal thoughts to you, do something about it, don’t wait for them to get over it because they may not. And if you are feeling suicidal, realize that you are not alone in how you feel. There are many of us out there and there are people out there who care, who want to help you, who want you to understand that your life is worth living. Life is about change, there is no constant in life other than change. How we perceive our lives greatly influences the direction in which our lives travel. What we face today will be nothing more than memories tomorrow. Every dawn is a new day and every day is a new beginning.
PS: If anyone you know could benefit from this letter please share it with them.