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Starrunner

A Letter to my Younger Self

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This is from a previous post. It's very personal and I wanted to share it.


Hello,
My name is Rob.

I attempted suicide more than forty years ago when I was sixteen. I was home alone again on a late Saturday night while everyone else was out for the evening. I had just mixed alcohol with drugs and was waiting to see what the effects would be like. I was facing the end and I was scared. Would it be painful? What was death going to feel like? Maybe it would just be a peaceful ending to a miserable existence.

Unexpectedly, my sister arrived home with her friends. The concert they were supposed to attend had suddenly been cancelled and they returned home. When they discovered what had happened, they called 911 and I was taken to the hospital. I lived through it.... but at the time, I thought it was just prolonging the misery and the inevitable conclusion of suicide. I was never meant to be happy.


A LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF

Dear Rob.

A night will be coming up shortly when you will have the opportunity to end all this pain. These feelings have always been up and down, but there is a consistent feeling that you're a failure, that people don't care about you, and that you don't have anything to offer. More than anything, you don't believe things can get any better.

It will be an emotional time. You will be terrified at the prospect of death because you can't comprehend what it will be like, but it won't stop you because it can't be any more painful than living. Facing the unknown is preferable to facing this miserable existence.

As with any suicide attempt, I wish I could just ask you to delay the attempt for one more day. These feelings change, and although your desire to keep living isn't very strong, the desire to end your life won't always be as strong. Your thoughts will change slowly from desperation and despair to a feeling that things could potentially get better.

A school environment can be a terrible existence for young people who are sensitive and thoughtful. You feel like you don't fit in, often feeling isolated and 'different' from the other students. We don't think in standard ways and have different interests that usually aren't part of the curriculum, and it all just amplifies your loneliness. Although you were realizing you were gay, you denied this part of yourself and tried to convince yourself it was just a phase that would pass. It made everything so much harder,, especially having a homophobe father. Years later, you will recognize that school can be one of the cruellest environments for people like us who feel less attractive, less intelligent and less confident. It takes time to get over those feelings, but you will see that, as you go out into the real world, that your insights, sensitivity experiences will be valued and helpful to others.

I know you're convinced right now that nobody cares about you. I wish I could explain to you how people have really been affected and worried about you. It's sad that people don't know how to express their concern for you or they don't know how to help. There are people want to help, they just aren't sure how. They don't want to hear you talk about suicide because they're afraid that talking about it might make you more likely to do it. They know something's going on, they just don't know what, or how to help. Often, suicidal situations can be a result of a communication breakdown amongst all parties. It's important to have someone that you can talk to about it, someone who's not afraid to talk about suicide. It's a tough subject, but not talking about it is a dangerous road.

In time you will discover that these feelings, so overwhelming right now, will not last forever. Day by day, week by week, you will get stronger. It doesn't change overnight, but you'll begin to consider a life beyond this moment. You will do things you never imagined yourself capable of doing.

You learn to get more involved in activities as a way to get your mind off depressing thoughts. You go back to school and you realize that although your grades need to improve, it's okay that they're not great right now. It's you that needs to improve right now and that needs the most care. Therapy helps and once you learn to start talking about it, you learn to let go of the past. Accepting the past, for whatever you did or was done to you, doesn't matter, because what matters most is where you are right now, and where you will go from here.

You will also get involved in extracurricular activities, including a social justice committee because you have an interest in human rights. You will also get to meet some people there who share similar interests, and although you don't feel that you're quite in their league, you feel that they listen and that your opinion is valued. It helps with your confidence and as you get more involved, there is less time to deal with suicidal thoughts and depression.

In school, you really hated gym class, because it was always about participating in team sports, like baseball or football. You were always the last one picked for the team because you weren't very good at sports.. Would it surprise you that many years later you will take up long distance running as a way to deal with depression and that you will become an exceptional marathon runner? You'll make the top 10 list of local marathon runners and your story will be posted in the media, focused on educating, inspiring and uplifting others.

Years after your suicide attempt, you will become a volunteer for a local distress helpline, sharing you experiences with other people who are depressed or suicidal. And after falling in love with the work of helping others, you decide to leave a good paying job with benefits to go back to school for social services. After failing your way through high school many years previously, you will become an "A" student in college because you are focussed and motivated, and you have found meaning in your life.

Eventually, you will settle into a rewarding life working for a non profit agency which helps disadvantaged populations, where you will be a strong advocate for youth, people with disabilities, racialized populations, LGBT groups, and, very, very often, people who are depressed and suicidal. You will share your experiences and advocate for others who feel the way you felt many decades ago. You will find your passion and meaning in life and use it to help others. You will be widely respected for the understanding and concern you have shown to others. You'll be asked to speak at conferences and classes about your work and how you came to find yourself through it.

I know that none of this seems possible right now and during the many years ahead, there will still be tough times and bad days, but you'll come to know that happiness is different than what you expected, that it comes from within and while helping others to thrive. You will rebuild a broken life on a foundation of hope and careful planning of a future with purpose.

This is the future that lies ahead if you can just make it through these difficult moments today. Your accomplishments aren't the actions of a person who is drowning in despair. You will find a strength in yourself that you haven't had the chance to see yet.

All I ask is that you trust me. Separate the emotions from the actions.Please don't make a quick and emotional decision that will prevent you from doing everything you are capable of doing, even if you don't see it as being possible right now.

Someday, people will understand and appreciate your sensitivity for the gift that it is, rather than a burden to bear.

Sincerely,

Rob[/QUOTE]
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Comments

  1. Jeremiah's Avatar
    Thank you for sharing this personal note. I know the pain that brings suicidal thoughts and am so glad that you made it past them to be with us today. We may not agree on everything. That is fine. What matters is you are here with us today to contribute. I value your opinion and appreciate the work you do to make our world a better place. Thank you.
  2. ozbub's Avatar
    Dayum.. that's great mate... nicely done. If only depressed kids had crystal balls (well haha you know what I mean there right)

    Seriously, I'm guessing you couldn't even have imagined back in the day what a valuable life you would contribute to this world.... well done
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