If you have followed me in this blog over the last eight months, or if you just know me, you know the one thing I do is tell you what I think. Nobody expects to get too much sugar-coated bullshit from me. Can I bullshit with a sweet smile when I need to? Hell yes. But I won’t do it if you are my friend.
So here goes. I’m going to share my thoughts here and they will probably piss you off, but they are mine, and I need to share.
The suicides of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington have affected me, but not in the way you are thinking. I don’t know their music. I am not feeling the loss of their talent the way many of you are.
What is affecting me is the aftermath of their suicides and the way we talk about it. I want to start right here by saying that I absolutely know nothing about their struggles and lives and reasons (as I said, I don’t even know their music). Here, I only talk about myself.
I have suffered from depression. I remember in a way “coming out” in the early 2000s to my family and friends by telling them about my diagnosis. Many were not surprised. Many could see a pattern in my life that might have shown I was always functioning a little “off” or “below the normal.” But when major depression hit, out of the blue, when I had so much going for me, that was different.
It was hard. I nearly lost Adam. He stuck with me. I combined drugs and therapy and made it through to the other side. But in all that time, I was never once suicidal. Ever. I was immobilized by depression, able to work like I always did, but paralyzed by the rest of my life. I still had no idea why people would kill themselves.
And then Adam died.
I don’t know what depression is like for others. All I know is that for me, the major depression I suffered years ago is a soft roller to shortstop. Grief is the line drive to your body in The Drill (shout out to my CP pitchers). And you miss the line drive. You miss the out to first. And everyone is telling you to get back up for the next one. You get up. But you are never as good again.
I know what it is like to contemplate suicide. I know what it’s like to be on the edge. Without many of you, who reached out with texts and calls and coffee, I would be gone.
I’m not saying I’m happy about it. I still often want to just die. It’s a lingering feeling you have with this kind of grief. It comes with exhaustion about living. It’s more than the exhaustion of trying to put everything into my job, take care of the animals and the house, still keep my friends… that is exhausting, but everyone has that. It’s just a feeling of a lack of purpose to all of it now. That I’m going through the motions of life. With Adam alive, everything I did had a purpose. It was to get home at night and be with him. It was planning our future, seeing our future with everything we did.
So living now is exhausting. Living will be exhausting until I find some sort of passion again. If I can.
And this has only been eight months for me. Not years.
With all this, I have a rationality about me that keeps me sane. My mother is my safe haven now. But my father was the one I think who taught me to just look at life with the level-headed common sense of an engineer (if only I had gotten his sense of spatial orientation). This rationality allows me to believe that it might not always feel like this.
But not everyone has this. More importantly, not everyone will have it. Ever.
A friend told me “you would not be a candidate to answer the suicide hotline” right now.
This is true. Because I couldn’t talk any developed adult out of it. (Note: none of what follows applies to young people who aren’t adults with fully developed brains. I would wear myself out talking them out of suicide.)
In my darkest days, I asked my friends “Why are you stopping me from killing myself?” Because to me, their decision to keep me alive only appeared selfish. You don’t want me to die because YOU WILL FEEL BAD. You will feel like I do. So instead you say “It will get better, don’t kill yourself.”
But you don’t know that. What you do know is that you don’t want to feel like I do. You want to go back home to the people you love and forget about the pain someone else is in because it’s too hard. This is normal.
Who is selfish then? The person who dies by suicide? Or those of you who fight so hard to keep us alive and suffering?
The time to help others contemplating suicide is not after a celebrity kills himself. The way to help others is not by telling us “it will get better.”
It’s not better, guys. You only get used to carrying the pain around.
I’d like to say I can’t imagine what these musicians were feeling. But I can. Because if the first few months of how I felt after Adam died is the way some people ALWAYS feel, then I can imagine.
I’d like to say the answer is just keeping being a friend. Keep remembering your friend is in pain. But that’s not always going to work. Sometimes, you just can’t stop it. Sometimes, you just don’t know.
Adam slowly killed himself. I could not stop it. I know that. But I will always feel a guilt that I should have been able to do something. We want to be the savior.
Sometimes you can’t be.
I would be remiss if I did not add this: If you are contemplating suicide, there are people to talk to. I’m not a professional. I’m just dealing with this shit. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Call me and we’ll find a professional together. If this sounds like the antithesis of what I just wrote, it’s because, shit people, life sucks. Let’s try to figure out a way to make it work.
3 thoughts on “I’m Going to Put on Makeup Now”
Your right about not knowing if and when it will get better. Maybe its hope that it will and the very lacking of words to help heal sonething we dont know how to.
I think about you quite often and im blessed in knowing you. I will always listen and just be here when you need me to be. No expectations just a port in any storm.
I hope I wrote this right. Hugs
Thank you Cris. We really do just keep on going. And we all think we don’t know what to say and do. But you know sometimes what helped me? Just someone sitting with me. Not saying a word. Their presence said “I care.”
Fwiw, I’m there with you. There are many days I think I’m just passing the days till the end, and what a relief it will be to not worry any more. But you’ve heard my corny statement about the heart and weightlifting? No? Well, you know in weightlifting you actually break your muscles and they grow back stronger. So I am indebted to all the girls who broke my heart because they made is strong enough to love my wife the way she deserve.
Corny, I know. What can I say, I’m a sentimental guy — and may that’s why I think of the long sleep as an end to suffering. But then I think about the fact that this deep pain will someday enable me to feel this much joy as my capacity to feel is broken and grows back stronger.
I’ve got 2 Woody Allen quotes for you:
“A week ago I bought a rifle, I went to the store – I bought a rifle! I was gonna, you know, if they told me I had a tumor, I was gonna kill myself. The only thing that might’ve stopped me – might’ve – is that my parents would be devastated. I would have to shoot them also, first. And then I have an aunt and uncle – you know – it would’ve been a blood bath.”
One day about a month ago, I really hit bottom. You know, I just felt that in a Godless universe, I didn’t want to go on living. Now I happen to own this rifle, which I loaded, believe it or not, and pressed it to my forehead. And I remember thinking, at the time, I’m gonna kill myself. Then I thought, what if I’m wrong? What if there is a God? I mean, after all, nobody really knows that. But then I thought, no, you know, maybe is not good enough. I want certainty or nothing. And I remember very clearly, the clock was ticking, and I was sitting there frozen with the gun to my head, debating whether to shoot.
[The gun fires accidentally, shattering a mirror] All of a sudden, the gun went off. I had been so tense my finger had squeezed the trigger inadvertently. But I was perspiring so much the gun had slid off my forehead and missed me. And suddenly neighbors were, were pounding on the door, and, and I don’t know, the whole scene was just pandemonium. And, uh, you know, I-I-I ran to the door, I-I didn’t know what to say. You know, I was-I was embarrassed and confused and my-my-my mind was r-r-racing a mile a minute. And I-I just knew one thing.
I-I-I had to get out of that house, I had to just get out in the fresh air and-and clear my head. And I remember very clearly, I walked the streets. I walked and I walked. I-I didn’t know what was going through my mind. It all seemed so violent and un-unreal to me. And I wandered for a long time on the Upper West Side, you know, and-and it must have been hours. You know, my-my feet hurt, my head was-was pounding, and-and I had to sit down. I went into a movie house. I-I didn’t know what was playing or anything.
I just, I just needed a moment to gather my thoughts and, and be logical and put the world back into rational perspective. And I went upstairs to the balcony, and I sat down, and, you know, the movie was a-a-a film that I’d seen many times in my life since I was a kid, and-and I always, uh, loved it. And, you know, I’m-I’m watching these people up on the screen and I started getting hooked on the film, you know. And I started to feel, how can you even think of killing yourself. I mean isn’t it so stupid? I mean, l-look at all the people up there on the screen. You know, they’re real funny, and-and what if the worst is true.
What if there’s no God, and you only go around once and that’s it. Well, you know, don’t you want to be part of the experience? You know, what the hell, it’s-it’s not all a drag. And I’m thinkin’ to myself, geez, I should stop ruining my life – searching for answers I’m never gonna get, and just enjoy it while it lasts. And, you know, after, who knows? I mean, you know, maybe there is something. Nobody really knows. I know, I know maybe is a very slim reed to hang your whole life on, but that’s the best we have. And then, I started to sit back, and I actually began to enjoy myself.