As part of our Sacred Purpose commitment to the Mental Health of all our brothers this post comes to us in honor of National Suicide Prevention Week.
For some of us, there are moments we have in our lives that are so painful we wonder how we could ever forget them. The more I talk about it, the more I see it in other people’s lives. Everyone seems to have their painful moments, no matter how trivial. For me, that moment was the day I decided to kill myself.
For so long, I looked for an excuse. Why do I feel this way? Why do I hate myself so much I wanted to not exist? I was a sophomore in college. I had academic scholarships. I was involved. I was in a fraternity with some of the best guys I knew. I had a good family. I even survived cancer. I thought I was going to change the world. Those are the things I was proud of; having depression and anxiety however, were not included.
When I would look into other people’s eyes, I could see a light in them. When something funny came up or someone they liked walked into a room, their eyes would light up. Looking in a mirror you can sometimes see the light in your own eyes. The light that tells you to keep going; you’re meant for something. One day, the light behind my eyes stop shining as bright. Eventually, I saw it go out.
It was then I stopped sleeping. I stopped eating. I hated me. I thought God hated me. I was utterly hopeless.
The seeming totality of darkness came and I was no longer in control. Every night, I’d find solace in the blade of a knife up and down my arms and legs. Why? To kill the numbness. To allow the physical pain to supersede the emotional pain and give myself a breath of fresh air. I’d watch the blood, as pure as rubies, float down my skin like tears.
I would hide the scars in my eyes and on legs so you couldn’t see them. I’d make up excuses as to why I wasn’t sleeping or eating. “It’s just stress” or “I just don’t have time right now” were my go-to excuses. I lost over 30 pounds in just two months. I’d lie when people asked me if I had plans so I can sit in my bedroom, in the dark, accompanied only by my thoughts, or the occasional text to a suicide hotline.
Once they know you’re serious, they’ll ask you for a plan. I’d gone over it so many times in my head, I had it down to a science. I could overdose or jump off of the tallest building on campus. I ran through each option but the deciding factor was my car. I’d go on these long drives by myself and see how fast my car could go. I wanted a rush before I left. I’d drive my car over 120 miles per hour and crash into the cement overpass.
It would be quick and I would be gone.
Then the night came. The night in November I would die. They would find an eloquent letter written about why and I’d try to give them as many answers as possible and hopefully they would understand it was not their fault. I was the broken one.
That’s when my friends intervened. I had made my intentions known to a few folks before and in my hour of need, they knew. This is the moment. They were done listening; this time they pushed. They pushed me toward the help I needed.
I checked myself into a psychiatric hospital. They take your shoelaces in there. I missed my shoelaces. I missed my friends. I missed writing about all of it. There are no pencils and pens, just crayons. The worst part? There’s no music. So I’d write the lyrics down in different colors.
In the middle of my stay, a nurse brought me a package. It was my Theta Chi jersey. My fingers lined the stitching and the fabric absorbed each tear. Those letters represented over a hundred people who believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. People who wanted to make me better. They represented an oath I took to live to higher standard, be the best version of myself, and to help all of those around me. I didn’t feel alone anymore. The light in my eyes began to flicker.
From then on, it was a long road. I’d be lying if I said that place fixed everything. It did unearth some truths I wasn’t ready for, but desperately needed to hear. Being there allowed me to see how serious my disease was, but it didn’t fix me. My depression still follows me, but I manage because I found help. I had the support of close friends to continue treatment. They helped me see that my life is more than just a few good years. It is a gift. I kept living because I began to focus on the flickers of light despite the presence of darkness. As the lights gleamed brighter, eventually, my entire world illuminated. I saw hope. I saw the people who believe in me and much as I believe in them.
I’m 24 now. I’ll still face tough times, but I’m living out my dreams because with help, I made the choice to keep living.
So I challenge you:
When your friend is hurting, go to them.
When someone wants to talk, make time to listen.
When the people you love need you, find them and make sure they know you’re there.
You have no idea what people face but it’s your duty to make them feel like they belong here. Tell the people you love that you love them. Tell them often. You have no idea when they’ll need to hear it. These things won’t cure depression, but it’s easier to face hard times when you know that there are people out there that want you to be here.
Believe in others and tell them; show them. Let your actions and words speak volumes. That is how we beat suicide; how we can keep our friends alive. That is how people like me survive and recover and write the story five years later.
Chris Hixon (Iota Theta/Central Florida 2015)