I want to take a little time out this week to talk a little bit more about how this site came to be.
Last year, a person very close to me attempted to commit suicide. I have chosen not to speak much about this until this time, but I have felt for some time now that talking about my experience could help other people.
This event rocked my world. I became a different, older person at the end of one phone call. I said everything I needed to say, and then I spent the next few months deflating.
I told this person and other people close to them to do yoga. I got them some self-care stuff. Meanwhile, I stopped doing yoga almost instantly. I was reduced to instinct and sadness.
I haven’t talked about these things for a long time because we all believe on some level that we shouldn’t “burden” other people with our feelings. That compounding guilt won’t help anything, and that we have to be brave for the mentally ill people in our lives.
Which is kind of true. And is also kind of bullshit.
As a mentally ill person who loves a lot of mentally ill people, I feel qualified to say that shrinking your feelings down and acting like someone close to you trying to take their life didn’t affect you is at best an unhealthy repression and at worst a further chilling sign that maybe people just don’t care about each other after all.
Why should it make me feel guilty to tell someone that their suicide attempt ripped through me like a train made of knives?
We’re all on this website right now because at some point we or someone we love has danced on this edge of life. When you’re out there, you stop believing that people love you. So shouldn’t that make it all the more important to say how much things like this hurt?
I can’t begin to tell you how unbelievably sad it made me that this person rejected all the love in their life.
Now your heckles are raising. You’re going to say it’s just the illness.
But I’ve heard it. And I’ve lived it. I know it’s the illness. And that’s why I’m going to keep talking anyway.
If you’re reading this right now and you think no one in your life would get ripped in half by your suicide, you’re wrong. Someone loves you so much that they may spend the rest of their life wondering why their love couldn’t help you if you commit suicide right now.
You are not insignificant. You are not unloved. And I’m so tired of making excuses for the illness.
I’ve got the illness. But I’m still accountable to the people I love.
Don’t feel guilt, that’s not the point. But even guilt can be something to live for, even just in the moment.
I still haven’t found a way to talk about this with this person in my life. I don’t know how to tell her that I stopped taking care of myself, and that I ended up in therapy. I don’t know how to tell her that this event made me question not only our relationship, but the point of human relationships at all. I don’t know how to tell her that her suicide attempt made love feel so much smaller than I used to think it was.
But maybe it can help you. Maybe it can help you see how badly you need to make that one last phone call before you do something you can’t take back. Maybe you can see that what you think is your release might be someone else’s gateway to hell.
And never forget that the person who loves you the most can be you. Maybe you need to stay alive long enough to yell at all the people who’ve fucked up in your life. And then once you’ve done that you can live for the feeling of how good you just did loving yourself. And then you put one foot in front of the other.
Part of how I’m putting my life back together is trying to do what I can to boost other people’s mental health. And that’s why I finally had to tell the world that surviving a loved one’s suicide or attempt is brutal. It is unspeakably difficult. It is something no one should have to go through.
So plant seeds at the edge that can lead you back.
I’m saying these things so they might stick in your head the next time you’re out there. The funny thing is that the person I’m writing about did that very thing for me. She planted in my head the idea that I couldn’t commit suicide because of what it would do to her, and that thought has stuck with me in my darkest times until this day.
Maybe we should tell the people in our lives the things we actually need to tell them. Maybe we should say you can’t kill yourself. Maybe we should say that people can live for each other, even just long enough to learn to live for themselves.
If you don’t believe that love is real, these 900 words have been love. They have been the feeling of love looking for itself.
Plant the seed. Try and remember what’s outside the illness. Try and remember what the illness wants to take away from you.
Love is real. And you have it.
–Schlomo Steel, editor and creator, I Won’t Commit