National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
As I start writing this microscopic glimpse into my so called life, I am left wondering how the heck I managed to stay married to the same woman for the past 16 years. I must admit that it is a milestone that only few oldtimers could achieve. If you happen to meet someone with the same record, ask them if they were very happy throughout their life together. For the most part, our life together was great, we were destined to be together, after all we were soul mates. We even carried the same birthday, but 3 years apart. At one point of our existence together, everything fell apart. Life became hell. Many times I felt like I should just throw in the towel and walk away, but some little voice inside kept insisting to stay and keep a look out for the good old days to resume. Have you ever been depressed? Do you know anyone who is? I was there, and am still feeling the after effects of it. I have met the hidden destroyer of self, faced it, and although broken, I feel that I am somewhat stronger in ways that were previously not obtainable.
I am writing this memoir in the hope that some men out there will read it and know that there is hope. Do not give up, do not let it break you. I know that to men depression is a weakness that needs to be shoved under a rug and pretend that nothing happened. One mistake I made is that I acted upon it too late. Once you recognize it, face it right away, and most importantly seek help. You do not need to do it alone. Life is unpredictable, if you are not standing on your two feet, life will sift you out. Have you ever gone looking for gold on a riverbank. No. Well, you have this sifter plate, you scoop up the muck from the riverbank, and then you patiently do a circular motion sifting out all river muck, hoping that whatever remains resembles gold nuggets.
Often, this resembles life. Because life sifts you out, the broken unfortunates will slip through the cracks and end up on the bottom. You want to be that gold nugget. If you are broken and weak, you will fall and often stay there. We need to stay on top if we want to succeed, therefore, however you want to do this, even if you have to ask for help, do it.
Ten years ago my wife had a car accident. It was a minor fender bender. As she advanced on the intersection, she got a stale yellow light. She chose to stop, person behind her chose to go. The damage to the car was very minor, but the damage to our years ahead was horrendous. We were in the process of rediscovering ourselves. Just recently, we were reunited from living apart for a year because I had a job contract to complete, and she just got accepted to a university that happened to be in a different city. Once I managed to complete my contract, I moved all my belongings and rejoined her in our so called new life. I have just left this security blanket that my previous job provided, and moved into an apartment that both of us didn’t really like. I felt that I was ripped out of our previous comfortable existence and placed in a new one with different rules to play out. Eventually I managed to get two jobs and started attending college in the evenings with an attempt to secure a degree. Car accident came. My wife was shaken but visibly, seemed well. A doctor looked her over and gave us thumbs up, and promptly dismissed her. Within the next couple of weeks she began to experience chronic pains in her hip. She made appointments with doctors, did some alternative therapies, but nothing worked. Bone in her hip was cracked, only time will heal it. The pain will decrease with time. How much time? Very difficult to predict. Often, the pain was so intense that she needed crutches to help her walk. And she needed to walk, because she was a university student. Pain was her faithful companion. There was no escape, not even sleep helped. And she was left alone to deal with it as best as she could.
I was at work all day, at the college in the evenings, and at my other job on the weekend. This crisis that visited us should have brought us together, but instead, it made us grow apart. I started to resent her, constantly working, I was also the one cooking. Often, I would bring ready made food home because I was too exhausted to cook, or even shop for food. Eventually I ended up with a large credit card bill. Now, I really needed those two jobs. Bills were becoming bigger than the income I was bringing home. My classes suffered also. I failed every exam because I was too proud to withdraw, or defer an exam. At that moment I didn’t realize that it is all right to ask for help. There are a lot of qualified people to help us, all we have to do is ask. Eventually, I started blaming my wife for everything. I kept asking her to stop being useless and start getting better soon. What do you think that statement did to her? Everyday I resented going to work. There was no fun there. I showed up not because I wanted to but because I had to. Every paycheck went to pay the interest, and kept us floating. I did not pay myself first. Slavery was a word I often used.
One evening, while I was at the college, my wife decided to take a bath. For a while now, she has been thinking about going to sleep for a very long time, a place where there was no pain and misery. Suicide became her only way out. In the kitchen, she carefully researched which knife should be the perfect one to do this horrendous job. Once a knife was chosen, she drew a warm bath, placed the object within a reaching distance, and submerged herself. At this moment she began to review her life so far. She started to think about the things she would miss most if she decided to go away. At this moment in life, there were not many she would miss. Her only objective was to stop the pain, at all costs. Then, she began asking herself a question: will I disrespect God, if I do this? She also visualized days in the future, and started to compare them with the days that preceded them. At that moment she realized tomorrow would be little better than today, and the day after tomorrow will be slightly better than tomorrow. She put the knife away and chose to live.
The following morning she went to the doctor, told him about suicide thoughts and asked for help. She also went to see a pastor and gathered some information regarding suicide and God. Both, doctor and the pastor, had very valuable information to share with her. One mistake they made is that both the doctor and the pastor let her walk away. She lives because she is a strong person, some people once left with those thoughts and nobody to guide them will not return to the living. It is our duty to take that persons hand lead them the help they deserve. Do not let them make a decision whether they should be the ones making an appointment with a doctor. Often they are incapable of making a decision.
Where was I when all of this was happening. Unknowingly, I was falling deeply into a depression myself. No suicide thoughts, but my outlook towards the world became very negative. I started to drink. I needed that numb feeling that alcohol would provide. I would become a difficult person to live with. To me, life seemed normal. I could not see a difference. As my wife started to become better, I was falling. She tried to help me, but I became oblivious to all. It was them that needed help, not me. My sick mind told me. The situation became so hopeless that my wife gave me an ultimatum. She left me. Took our two daughters with her (yes, we even managed to have children when all this was happening). All that was left of her was a note on the table. Inside was a phone number to a therapist. She also wrote me that she would call me within the next couple of days to see if I have done so. My answer to her would determine if she is going to come back or not. After I finished reading the note I went to a liquor store, bought a 12 pack and a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label. Alone at last. That same night I woke up crying, longing for the old days to return. I started missing my daughters terribly. As soon as I woke up, I made that call.
When you have a toothache, you go see a dentist. When you have a fever, you go to a doctor. When your mind is not well, you go and see a psychiatrist. They are all experts in their chosen fields. Our bodies, once in a while need a proper maintenance. Do not be afraid to seek help. Do not let things unfold until it is too late to make things better. Recognize that you need help, and go seek it. And importantly, if unable to make that decision yourself, it is all right for others to make that decision for you. Hope that my story enlightened you.