I’ve only really personally known one person that killed themselves.
(That’s a harsh way to start a post, huh?)
I’m not going to share his name, because we were only friends for a short time and because of that I somehow feel that his death is not really mine to mourn. Still, when I logged onto Facebook one day and saw all our mutuals posting tributes on his wall, I cried. I thought, as I’m sure everyone did, that if he had just reached out…maybe I could have done something. But we weren’t close. We worked together for a while, and I was his Secret Santa one year. Hung out a couple times. What could I have possibly done, except point him to a suicide hotline? But maybe that would have been enough. Who knows?
(That was, completely coincidentally, the year I started doing the AFSP Out of Darkness Walk. They read a list of names, and his was on it…I felt my heart drop to my shoe.)
Last summer, I saw a guy in a crowd that looked like him. For a second, I thought it was a ghost, that’s how close the resemblance was. I remembered how I felt when he died…that I lost someone I once called “friend,” and felt powerless. I don’t feel as powerless now. I do the walk every year and raise funds to save lives, lives like his. Lives like mine.
Anyway, after I saw this ghost it got me thinking of people in my life that I have lost contact with. It’s a lot. Like…a hell of a lot. And it is all depression’s fault. It went and convinced me these people didn’t really care about me in the way I cared about them and kept me from reaching out to maintain friendships that were important to me. I thought to myself, that if one of these people committed suicide, I would be heartbroken. I wanted people to know that despite my mental health keeping me from being present, the people I love will always be with me, and can always call on me when they need to. So, I started sending messages. About one a month, to people I loved and missed. When I would see a meme or something that reminded me of someone, instead of just thinking “Gee, I miss so-and-so,” I would send it to them with a message.
And so, I talked to my college buddies. I had coffee with a friend I hadn’t seen for three years. I reconnected with one of my besties from high school. At Christmas, I sent messages to people I did Xmas shows with when I was in my teens. I just so happened to message my middle school best friend the night before she got engaged. Yesterday, I messaged a friend I haven’t seen in at least a decade AND my former therapist. My point is that I tried to reach out, and good things came of it.
I hope these people know. I hope all the people I have ever met in my life know…that I am here. If I loved you before, I have not stopped. I wrote a play once, and the premise was that love, in all its forms, does not dissipate. Take a relationship…you may break up, it may be awful, but you loved them once, and that love lives on in your subconscious whether you acknowledge it or not. Or, someone you’ve had a falling out with…for instance, there is a woman that I’m pretty sure doesn’t like me. And that’s fine. She doesn’t have to. We had a falling out many years ago, and I personally don’t think she’s ever forgiven me. Again, that’s fine, it’s her prerogative. Still, if she called me in a panic, I’d summon the part of me that used to be friends with her and run to her aid. It’s just the kind of person I am, and why I believe that the love remains.
I do not give up on people. It may seem that way at times, because I fall into depressive episodes that can last anywhere from an hour to five years. I hate losing my people, be it to distance, time, or circumstance. I will always, always be here. Do not hesitate. I don’t want to hear them read your name at the suicide walk, guys.
And also…maybe I just miss you.
My point is to reconnect. To try to do something to maintain the relationships that mattered to you, even though the world seems to have gotten in the way. And if you’re in a really dark place, all the more reason to reach out. And if you need me, I’m here.