“It was a couple years after I graduated high school that the thoughts started. After seeing people I had graduated with, friends, go off to university, or further their education in other ways, come back with “career” type jobs, there I was, bouncing from menial job to menial job. Always admiring those people for putting the work into landing some of those jobs, but knowing, believing, that I could never have done it.
Sure I could’ve tried the university or trade school path but I know, along with everyone else, that I would’ve failed miserably. So I’d stay at a job until I was getting really well liked and given more responsibilities. Then, I’d quit, I’d quit because I just knew that eventually, I’d screw up, and rather than waste people’s time, I’d just quit and move on. It’s during this time when suicidal thoughts would become a regular part of my life. It seemed every time I’d see someone I was close to, whether it be my parents, a friend, whoever, all I would see out of them was a disappointment in their eyes, disappointed in what I was doing, or not doing with my life, just disappointment towards me in general. Now I know, that was the illness putting all those thoughts in my head, at the time, though, I started truly believing those thoughts, that I was nothing more than a stress, a burden, a massive disappointment to my family and friends.
That’s pretty much how my life went for the next few years, believing I was a massive stress to everyone around me and having what I call fleeting thoughts of extreme loneliness, worthlessness, and thinking that if I just wasn’t around, all those people could finally have some relief from my constant disappointments. I call them fleeting thoughts because that’s what they were, multiple times a day, the thoughts of suicide would hit me, they’d last around 20-30 seconds then vanish as quick as they appeared. In that time, I had moved to another city, started a job (that I still currently have 17 years later) and even managed to get married and becoming a father for the first time. With all those positives going on in my life, I truly believed I didn’t deserve any of it, and rather than enjoy it, faked my way through it all just waiting for the bottom to fall out.
The marriage lasted 5 years, my daughter was 2. They moved an hour and a half away, which at the time, to me, it might as well been across the country. I’d see my daughter every other weekend which was really what kept me going at that time, just making it through the 2 weeks until I’d see her again, and life, as they say, went on. Those 20-30 seconds of fleeting thoughts I once had, we’re now lasting an hour, 2 hours, half the day, until my entire days were spent talking myself out of ending my life. Even though I believed, my brain kept saying, that would be the best option for everyone.
Oct. 14/09, was a day like no other. Spent going through the motions, after spending the last probably couple years spending my days talking myself out of suicide, this day, I was ready to give up, I had to stop the mental torture, I just didn’t feel, believe, that I could keep going like that. That night, I made the decision that the next day would be “the” day. I spent that night writing letters, to my parents, my ex-wife, and my daughter, who was 6 at that time. The letters were apologies. Not apologise for what I was going to do the next day, they were letters of apologies for who I was, the person I was, being a horrible son, husband, father. I was saying sorry for the burden I was to all of them, the huge amounts of stress I had caused them. The letters also explained how what I was doing was best for all of them, they wouldn’t have to worry about me all the time, how all that stress and burden I caused them would be lifted, I knew they’d be sad initially, but I also knew how much happier they’d all be in the long run. You’d think after making a decision like that, that a person would be worked up, have some fear, something. For me, after I made the decision, wrote those letters, I laid down and knowing all that pain, mental torture would be over soon, had the best sleep I’d had in over a year.
Oct. 15/09. I woke up that day feeling refreshed, relief, my brain being nice to me for a change, filled with thoughts of how I’m doing the right thing, how much better it’ll be for everyone. I basically spent the day, getting things ready. I emptied my closet, fastened my belt on the clothes rod, and did a couple test runs off holding on to that pole, lifting my feet and stay like that, making sure it’d be strong enough to hold my weight. It passed the test. I spent the rest of that day basically waiting for some sort of switch to go off in my head saying, ok, it’s time. Just before 3 pm that afternoon, I was watching tv, looking to see what was on. When you’re waiting for your brain to tell you it’s time to kill yourself, watching tv is a perfect way to wait, isn’t it? I saw a show called Off the Record with Michael Landsberg coming on, I used to watch that show religiously when it had first started. Lost interest in it after awhile and it became one of those shows that I’d watch if there was nothing else on.
That day, there was nothing else on. So I tuned in. I almost flipped the channel when I saw his guest was Stephane Richer, nothing personal against Mr. Richer, but as a Bruins fan, why would I want to hear what a stinking hag had to say? Stephane and Mike talked that day about their battles with depression, I sat there stunned, bawling, nodding my head saying “that’s me” to everything they were talking about. All this time, all these years I had simply thought that it was only me that was like this, that this was just the crappy cards life had dealt me. It was almost a relief to know it wasn’t just me, that there was an actual name for what I was dealing with. After that episode, Mikes email address popped up on the screen, I decided to email him, just to say thanks for doing that episode, that even though it was too late for me, somebody, was going to get help from seeing that show. I never expected a reply, let alone within minutes of sending the email. My computer would “ding” every time I got an email, after I sent that first email, that little ding went off probably within 5 minutes. I and Mike shared maybe 7 or 8 emails that afternoon, after each one I’d send him, I’d walk to my room making sure everything was ready to go, I knew, I just felt, that switch I’d been waiting for would go off soon. Mikes emails weren’t preachy, he didn’t beg me not to do it, he just talked. I sent what I figured would be the last message, I started the walk back to my room, I can’t say for sure if that would’ve been the last walk to my room, but I do know the time was getting close. Sure enough that computer dinged again, I looked back and said out loud, “even in email, this guy doesn’t shut up!” His last message was a simple question, a simple question yet it made so much sense. He said suicide could always be put on the back burner. Since I had never told anyone what I was going through since I had never made even one attempt to get help, what would it hurt to at least try that first? It made sense. I hated that it made sense, but I couldn’t deny, the guy made sense. I had never tried, not once, to get help. I didn’t know other people went through this before, but now I do know that this happened to a lot of people, that I wasn’t alone, so it made perfect sense to at least try, besides, I didn’t want to go out without at least trying to get some sort of help.
Obviously, since I’m here writing this, that switch didn’t go off that day. I woke up the next day, actually feeling a little better, I didn’t go to my doctor or tell anyone about the day before. I just spent the next while coasting on that “little bit better” that I felt. I couldn’t tell you how much longer, or what triggered it, all I know, is that coasting and not doing anything to get help like I said I would, left a nice big opening for the illness to creep back in and bite me in the ass, this time it but harder than it ever had before. This time I was terrified. It was late, I looked at the front page of the phone book where you often find emergency numbers, hotlines, things like that. I was looking for a suicide hotline in my area. All I could find was a hotline for sexual assault, I figured I’d call. Surely they must have a number of a hotline or something. I called, a lady answered, and in my fakest, most business like a voice I could muster, I said, “yes hello, I was looking for a suicide hotline and couldn’t find one, I was wondering if you had one handy”. If I’m not mistaken I even tried saying it in a British accent, which, if you ever hear me try to do an accent of any kind, you, along with that poor lady on the phone might have mistaken me for a stroke victim. I was met with a few seconds of silence, then she asked me one of the simplest yet most powerful questions ever. “Are you ok?” Now she was met with a few seconds of silence, and she went from hearing this guy giving the worst possible imitation of a British accent to a guy blubbering, bawling, into the phone, screaming ” No, I need help!” That lady, who to this day I have never met, did an absolutely amazing job at getting me breathing, calming down. I could hear her on another line talking to someone. Then she’d come back telling me who she was talking to and what was going to happen. Within minutes, 4 RCMP were at my door. They didn’t make me feel like I was wasting their time, they sat with me and listened. Then they took me to the local hospital. On the way there, I could hear their radio, dispatch asking if the situation had been resolved. The one cop replied that they were taking me to the hospital, and he said something to the effect of, “he’s a really good guy, no trouble, just needs a little help up”.
I spent the next 5 days on the mental health ward, I don’t remember talking too much to the staff there, other than them telling me when it was time to get up, time to eat. Not saying they were uncaring, it was a busy unit, there seemed to always be something going on. I did meet one person, a fellow patient, who I probably got the most out of meeting at that time, and learned that it’s ok to ask for help. He was a monster of a man, I’m guessing around 6’3-6’4, probably close to if not over 300 lbs, an oil rig worker from another city, twice a year, he’d drive to my city, and check himself in, he needed to is what he told me. To look at this guy, you’d think “wow. Now here’s a dude I wouldn’t want to piss off.” He was about as gruff, manly as a guy could get. His hands were bigger than MY HEAD!!! When I think of #sicknotweak. I think of him, he’d never be mistaken for being weak, yet here he was, he needed help and he went and got it. I often think about whatever happened to him, he’s another one that I don’t think I ever got his name if I did I don’t remember it, but I’d like to say thank you.
My worst days today would’ve easily been my best days back then. That little 6-year-old daughter is now 12, soon to be 13. I’ve since met and fallen in love with my best friend, soon to be married in a few short months. And this February my 2nd daughter turns 2. I’ve often said how I’ve spent most of my life being rejected by women, and now I’m surrounded by them. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m fortunate enough to have a support network of family and friends who’ve all been incredible. Reaching out to Mike that day was the best decision I’ve ever made because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here today. I’ve gained a great friendship with that guy who never shuts up and for that, I’m forever grateful.
To anyone who’s taken the time to read this that may be struggling, reach out, share, I guarantee if you reach out enough, people will reach back, and know, that as lonely as you may feel, as hopeless as you believe things are, please know, that there are so many of us out there, and you are never alone! You, like me, are sick, but we sure as hell are far from being weak!