A portion of the book reprinted with the authors permission
Thought of Suicide? Welcome to the Club!
By Dylan Stevens
Copyright 2011 Dylan Stevens
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
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This book was written for everyone who has contemplated suicide and didn’t think they were mentally ill. There was no editor for this book. All errors, grammatical or otherwise, rest on my shoulders. How do you submit your justification for suicide to someone for editing and get an objective response? This is not a self-help book and I don’t offer any insightful tips for handling depression or suicidal thoughts. At its core, it is a document about what led me to become suicidal and the thoughts in my brain. You may or may not identify with it. You may or may not know someone who is exhibiting or expressing similar symptoms. I felt compelled to write this book because it is virtually impossible to convey my history of failure combined with my current situation to anyone.
We can exhibit classic symptoms of depression (lack of focus, poor sleeping, lack of interest in life, lethargic, loss of appetite, etc.) and still function at a fairly high level making decisions, sales calls, or being creative. Like me, you may have talked to a therapist or counselor only to find that it really did not help with the thoughts. You may have taken anti-depressants, which I have avoided, only to find that while you feel better, it has not changed the root cause of the depression and suicidal thoughts.
I am not a doctor, therapist or counselor. All I can do is regurgitate all of my thoughts and feelings of hopelessness and lack of joy in my situations that caused incessant thoughts of suicide as the answer. For better or worse, I have been blessed with a clear mind and intelligence. With luck I can articulate where my feelings of hopelessness came from. I am serious about suicide. I think about it night and day and have actually made plans and moved forward with certain aspects of the plan. On this point, no one can ever dispute my sincerity.
This book may be just a waypoint on the final destination route or it might be the pivot point in life that interrupts my current plans and switches it back to normalcy. There are no answers in this book. My main objective was to write down my thoughts and feelings because other people could not relate to my perspective. Most people think you are sick and mentally ill if you contemplate suicide. I disagree.
If you are contemplating suicide because you are grieving over the loss of a friend, partner, spouse or child, seek counseling. I know that sounds odd. Grief can be profound, and while similar to my situation with depression, you can work through it.
I am writing this book under a pseudonym. The names of people and companies have been changed for the most part. It is not my goal or aim to hurt anyone by their present or past association with me. It has been written from the heart, with an eye for accuracy, with little embellishment. To publicly acknowledge thoughts of suicide, for all except celebrities, is a death sentence for your career. At this point, I don’t really care. If you really want to find out my true identity, you should not have too much problem. However, please be respectful.
Even normal people, when they feel trapped, caged, or locked-in, with few viable alternatives in their lives, determine suicide is an option to escape the despair and depression of their situation. Life is never easy. It is all about keeping equilibrium between the difficult parts and the joy.
One of the lynch pins is the term ‘viable alternatives’. ‘Viable’ is definitely open to debate and varies from person to person. We have all read the stories where someone in slavery or bondage turns to suicide as the only escape. I am convinced that many of us become enslaved or trapped in situations where suicide is the only alternative. You may dispute the conclusion of suicide but you can’t refute the path and events in my life or your life that have led to suicidal thoughts.
Most people can’t fathom suicide. Why we let those thoughts into our brain I am not sure. Maybe we do have an organic brain dysfunction. Either way, I conclude that normal intelligent people, through a series of live events and situations can rationally contemplate suicide and not be mentally ill. We are just desperate to change or break free from the despair or the feelings of being trapped.
Where are we now?
As I write this, suicide weighs heavy on my mind as it might be for you as well. But I still think I have a clear mind that can make rational decisions, such as writing this book. Let me emphasize that I am not an impulsive person, but someone who appreciates a well-documented plan. A messy desk is the sign of a cluttered mind. I try to keep my desk and mind relatively clean and tidy.
Not only do I not like to be faced with confusion today, I do not want to propagate it tomorrow. Consequently, I have a plan for my end of life scenario. The first order of business is to get all the family paperwork in order. It is important to insure that the survivors don’t have to hunt for important papers (life insurance, mortgage, vehicle registration, tax returns, etc.). All the documents must be easily found with clear directions on how to proceed to remove the deceased name, me, from titles and beneficiary.
Second, I will not a leave a physical mess for someone else to clean up. It is just rude to off yourself in your home. I don’t care how much you may hate your spouse or partner. Mine shall be at the ocean. I figure that if I am crummy shot with the pistol, the water will finish the job. I have even considered leaving a small cash stipend for the municipal agency that has to collect my remains. After all, their time is worth something too.
Finally, I will choose a location that is not close to home or at least out of the way. There is no need to create disturbing memories for the survivors. There is nothing worse than driving by a spot and always being reminded of some horrible incident. I would like my family to continue living in the community so I would not want my death to create any local discomfort.
Is this the methodology of a mad man? Can someone who is mentally ill put together such a plan? Perhaps, but the point is that I am not mentally ill, and neither are you, good planning is the sign of a rational and logical mind. Suicide can be the result of a mind that feels trapped. I am not advocating you commit suicide. All I am pointing out is that suicide, like any good business plan, needs executable parts to be successful.
With respect to my family, I do admit to a mental deficiency, not illness. I have never been overly concerned or empathetic to events that might affect others. This is not to say that I don’t care what they think. I agonize if my actions or words may have caused injury to someone. Similarly, I want people to always think well of me. However, when life hands you a lemon you need to make lemonade, deal with it, move forward. Grief is very real and needs to be addressed. Life is for the living. To perpetually grieve seems like another form of death to me. So I am certain that my family will move forward with or without me.
My great blind spot is that I can’t fully comprehend how my family might grieve for me. On the other hand, I am rather weary of always worrying about and changing my actions for other people. How would life be different if I died of cancer or was killed in car crash? The result is the same. I am gone. Suicide is a purposeful action unlike illness or accident. Every option will require the survivors to adapt, change, and deal with the situation. Only the reaction of friends and family may change depending upon my ultimate fate. I am not trying to be cruel, heartless or vengeful. These are just the basic facts of my life.
Okay, we are serious, but why?
While there are undoubtedly similarities to all our circumstances, some people may have entirely different situations. You may scoff at one or more of my issues. That’s perfectly fine. This is not a contest to see who has the worst life. You have already determined your life is the worst from your vantage point.
Here are some of my particular issues that created the solid concrete walls of entrapment in my mind.
1. Career failure
2. Marriage failure
3. Failure to follow my calling and heart
4. Lack of support network
Career, is that what you call it?
(Lifted from an entry in a journal I keep for my son.)
The foundation of all my hopes and dreams emanated from my college experience. It was there that I finally said, “This is who I am, this is what I will do, this is what I believe in”
I had a passion and intense desire to work in agriculture, either locally by owning a farm, in agri-business, or oversee an international concern devoted to helping impoverished farmers. My greatest joy and happiness comes from helping others and to see their lives’ improved. It is important to be a positive force for change in your community, no matter where you live.
With my impending graduation from UCD, in the late ’80’s, I marched over to the Peace Corp office to offer my services. I figured with my degree in International Agricultural Development and experience in irrigation, the application would be only a formality before I was shipped off to another country to help poor farmers improve their farming or irrigation practices. I was stunned when the Peace Corp turned me down saying that most of the host countries wanted people with advanced degrees.
I had just spent 8 years getting my B.S., working multiple jobs at the same time, and living in poverty. I was not inclined to spend another 2 to 4 years to get a master’s degree; I needed to get a job. I rationalized that the Peace Corp was only one option and there would be other opportunities to actualize my hopes and dreams. Later in life I would come to see the lost opportunity of working at the Peace Corp a pivotal turning point in my life path.
Jobs were scarce in 1990, so I took an inside sales job with Steve who was a manufacturer’s representative. We had met when I was working for XYZ Supply. After eight years of inside sales I was really ready for more of a challenge. I sought and was offered a job in So. Cal. but my wife was not keen on moving away from family and neither was I, so I passed on the opportunity.
Steve eventually put me in outside sales. Before the move, I had a real bout with depression because I felt stuck and could not get another job. A huge problem for me is my loyalty and commitment. I find it really hard to leave an employer. While the outside sales job was not perfect, it was good. I traveled through Northern California even getting to call on agricultural supply houses. With my dream of living on a farm pretty much gone, I was hoping that I could at least develop a business connection with agriculture and slide into an agricultural job full time.
My wife I were married in 1992 and bought a house in 1993. My dream, that I obviously did not articulate too well, was to live in a rural setting or actually buy and live on a farm. Essentially, I was looking for any way to stay connected with agriculture. I figured owning a small organic farm, even if I could not run it full time, would at least keep me in touch with my passion. But my wife was not enthusiastic about the prospect of either living on a farm or too far away from suburbia. I eventually abandoned my dream of living on a farm by the late 1990’s.
Steve’s daughter got pregnant while at college. The father was a barely-employed laborer. They eventually got married and Steve decided he had to save his daughter and grand-daughter. So he brought Jerry, his new son-in-law, into the business. After a couple months it was clear that I was on my way out as Steve wanted Jerry to take over my territory. Steve offered to partner up with me to start a company to build a wireless irrigation controller. His money was essentially my severance package. I liked the concept and knew I could manage the production so we started the company.
Before we got going I knew the obstacles: under-capitalized, innovative product without some critical features and just me to promote the product. We did go into production and I did make sales. But we also needed to make upgrades to the product, features southern California agencies wanted. But we did not have the money and Steve was not willing to invest any more. I could see failure written on the wall. But I was still young and figured I could recover. Since the sales did not cover my expenses and I was running out of money I went and found another job.
In 2002, I was so fortunate to pick up a job as a Water Protection Specialist with a non-profit water association. This was finally the job that cobbled together most of what I wanted. I got to travel to rural California communities and help them develop water protection plans. It was a great non-profit, serving people, a connection to agricultural communities and I got to use my skills in writing and management from college. Unfortunately, one of my colleagues that I had to work closely with did not like me. I am not sure if Sue hated me because she did not get to make the final decision of who was hired, she wanted the job, I was a guy, or that the members I worked with really liked me. Regardless, she made my life a nightmare by constantly criticizing my work, not returning phone calls, refusing to work with me, creating a wedge with the communities I was working with and just generally ignoring me at all the staff meetings. Worst of all, because she had seniority, the office manager who was new and the executive director who was part time, deferred to her ‘experience’. “Well if Sue says it, it must be true”, type of attitude.
After a year of torment I through in the towel on a job I truly loved and had a calling for. To heap on regret, I had been contacted by the national association with the support of, “We like your work, there will be opportunities for you in the future.” But I knew if I left the local affiliate, those opportunities would evaporate and they did. I could not handle the harassment Sue dished out and not stay sane.
Since I needed a job quick, I was able to pick up my old job from high school at XYZ Supply in 2003. I had pretty much hit bottom with a failed company, my dream job being destroyed and no agricultural opportunities. All I wanted to do was have desk job and concentrate on home and hobbies. I had little time to slack off when the health of my parents deteriorated. The job at XYZ was pretty mundane and intellectually stunting, not to mention I had to work with a bunch of political Neanderthals and really stupid customers. But I couldn’t really focus on that aspect because my mind was consumed with taking care of my parents and my son. Mom died in 2005 and dad was in a skilled nursing facility form 2005 until 2010. Since XYZ was close to the parent’s home and the SNF where dad was at, it made it convenient to visit him 2 to 3 times per week after work.
By the end of 2009 I had pretty much had it working for XYZ. Frank, the owner, had plenty of money and really didn’t want to grow or do anything that might really use my skills. I had a job for life and I am sure I could have bought the business, but the depression it was causing was sinking into my first bout with suicidal thoughts. With my dad dying in early 2010, I started a discernment process of what I would do, for a job, after he died.
The bottom line of the discernment was two career paths. I could either go to seminary or insurance sales. While those sound divergent, they were the options that most fit the dwindling possibilities of a 46 year old gray haired guy who had been working at a 4 employee small business for the past 7 years and had not been able to develop or maintain skills from college. I obviously chose insurance for the money. Seminary would have been great, but I did not think I could afford it, travel to the bay area several times per week and maintain my son’s schedule.
14 months into my insurance career have proved to be a mediocre disaster. Just like my previous startup, I have made some sales, but not nearly enough to make a living. Yes, I should not have chosen health insurance since health insurance companies immediately cut the commissions in half with health care reform in 2011. There has been a steep marketing/learning curve and I have wasted too much money. It all amounts to a stagnant business where I do not have the resources to push forward.
A much unexpected dividend is the reaction and support I get from other people. Because of my networking, chamber involvement, nonprofit activities and referral group, I have met tons of people. I really try to promote their business, support them individually and make them feel positive. Consequently, people are always telling me how much they value me being in a group, being a good listener, connecting them with other businesses, referring clients to them or helping them out with insurance. I am just shocked when someone tells a friend in my presence, “Dylan is wonderful, get to know him, he has helped me so much and he can help you too.” Wow, quite the testimony. I have never once heard anything remotely resembling that from my family. And unfortunately, it has not translated into anymore business for me.
As my money dwindles at the end of 2011, I am in quite the quandary. If I go and try to find a ‘job’, one not working for myself, I will have sealed the Failure on my life. Because of my mental state, I don’t think I can work for anyone. I am refusing to go quietly when it comes to subjugating my personal views on life, politics and religion. My personal opinions are all I have left that speaks to who I am as a person. Certainly, being just another insurance agent means nothing and I long ago gave up the identity of ever being a farmer. What do I have left?
At one time I had boundless self confidence that I could do anything within my limits. This gift of my college education has now receded along with my hopes, and hair, to work in agriculture and serving others while also making enough money to survive. I suppose I am at a point where I have to consider taking my life in a different direction. With all my savings and retirement virtually gone, I have no resources with which to make a new path. I was offered an agency with the ABC Insurance company. But I did not have the money to start an office staff and I don’t think I could have hit their sales numbers. Remember, after a year selling insurance, I have not hit my own numbers for survival, let alone profit.
This truly is the end of the road; I have no options that work within the framework that I hold fast too:
I refuse to go into debt.
I will not use someone else’s money.
I need to fulfill my commitments.
I will not quiet my voice to please others any longer.
With the insurance business I had the concept that if people could get to know me, they would buy from me. Not because I was so great or smart, but because I was not a pushy aggressive asshole. My business is selling me. ‘People buy from me’, was the concept. With relatively few sales, ‘Me’ as a brand, has failed. It means people have chosen not to buy me, and that really hurts. I know it is all about marketing, but with the money decreasing and a crummy track record of sales there is little doubt that I was not even able to sell ‘Me’, the product that I had so much faith in.
To summarize, I have failed to achieve any of my college hopes or dreams. I have failed in business. My self-confidence is shot and I have failed in large measure with my family from my perspective. Please, I don’t want to hear any bullshit, “Dylan, you are not a failure, look at your wonderful son, blah, blah, blah….” Perhaps I have succeeded for other people, but not on a personal level for me. If you do not have a yard stick with which to measure results you are stupid. My yard stick is not very long, but even I failed to measure up.
I have the option of going on medication to blunt the depression. I suppose I could go to work for someone once I am on Prozac. But taking medication does not change the facts of your life. People want me to live for what I provide to them. When do I get to live to provide for me? Well, I guess I had my chances and they did not work out. Is that the bitter pill I must swallow? Is this the punishment I must endure for failing; a life of boredom, self-loathing and soul crushing work? Am I officially in hell?
Marriage is a two way street and I have worked hard to obey the traffic laws. As my earlier comments on my career may have indicated, my wife was not always in tune with my preferences. To be fair, I didn’t always articulate my desires properly or adequately or at all. I picked up hints from our conversations on which lifestyle she was most comfortable with. It was always my goal never to put her in an uncomfortable situation whether it was a social or outdoor activity.
Early on in our marriage, my wife made it clear that she did not want to have to do all the running around for our son. We had been roommates in college and still had kind of the division of labor mentality when it came to family business. I am not opposed to the situation but it limits certain options if one spouse has to carry more of the family load so the other can pursue a career. I would not say our marriage is unconventional, but I do respect my wife’s personal space and career choices.
Although, looking back at everything, I would have liked a little more involvement and moral support for my decisions. My wife was never interested in helping out or knowing much about my first business or the latest insurance business. I know she is busy, but it would have been nice if she took a little interest and even offered some advice and support. But perhaps I repelled her away with my unpredictable behavior with respect to advice. I have not been the best or most understanding husband and father. Much of my sour moods and crankiness have been ignited over what I felt was a lack of respect for my opinions and education.
This is not meant to be an indictment of my wife who is truly a wonderful person and worthy of praise. She certainly deserves better than me. I am the one who has made decisions that have led to a failed marriage. It is what it is, as the saying goes. I can no longer ignore the lack of commonality in our lives. It does not mean that her life choices are worse or wrong in respect to mine.
It was my hope that our mutual dreams would blossom and would have grown into a life that both of us could fully embrace and feel content with. Through difficult conversations, she has told me that she will follow my dreams but I can not in good faith take her down that path. Regardless of our differences and any possible irrational emotions on my part toward her culpability with my current situation, I will not place any blame at her feet. I am a big boy and I have made my own decisions.
Failure to Follow the Calling and Heart
I will completely admit my desires for leadership positions and politics as an unhealthy symptom of megalomania. But that mental quirk can be both resource and distraction to a fulfilling life. For me, that part of my personality is easily dispatched to the trash bin. A greater constant in my life, since high school, has been my interest to work into positions that directly help other people. To that end, I have failed.
There has always been a calling for me to use my resources and talents to help people overcome the obstacles of social injustice, poverty, mental illness, abusive relationships or similar circumstances. Every person has a spark of divinity that should be nurtured. As a community, and individually, we are called to lift up our brothers and sisters who need our help. The goal should always be to support them so they can sustain a lifestyle that supports their family and community. Time and time again, usually for the sake of money or not wanting to put my family in uncomfortable situations, I have eschewed opportunities to help. Has the time run out? Not necessarily, but the money has.
In a similar theme, I have always felt a calling to explore and engage my spiritual faith. While I have had some success, I am far from the full immersion that I wanted. A large obstacle, and a bigger failure, was to find a church home for my family. Suburban churches are awash with feel good sermons with little substance. If we had lived in an urban core, a church program that would have engaged the whole family would have been more accessible. We have explored many local options and found all of them lacking.
The dream of having a family fully engulfed in charitable activities and events has also evaporated for me. If I could not personally have a career directly related to helping people, perhaps on a family or community level I could meet that need. But it was not to be. I harbored visions that our family would take missions to other countries to help people in need, but again I found excuses to squelch the passion: time, money, lack of family interest, need for a normal vacation, etc.
Even though they are not real excuses, time, distance and family reluctance have all contributed to my taking the low road of non-participation with faith organizations that may have filled the need. I fully acknowledge that not everyone in the family, immediate or extended, felt the same depth of calling as me or regarded community involvement as lofty as I do. In addition, I am guilty of submitting to the suburban norms of not being too active for fear of being seen as some sort of zealot. This is truly an irrational fear that has had negative impacts in my life. Ironically, as I contemplate the end of my life, I no longer have that inhibition.
My view is that a person’s sexuality is a human condition. You are born with it. It does not have to define you, but it is there. You can embrace it, deny it, ignore it, or suppress it. But whatever you do, deal with it. For my part, long ago I decided to suppress and ignore. Such a strategy is not necessarily unhealthy. Many people take a vow of chastity and are perfectly fine. Your sexuality is just there and it does not need to be the large appetite in your brain that sucks up all your human energy and production.
In my case, working on my career, family, home projects and hobbies were suitable and admirable distractions. However, when your erector-set-of-life falls apart you are forced to stare at the building blocks. You are forced to take an inventory of your brain. The ultimate question is whether I should have taken a different path early on which could have precluded my subsequent spiral into suicidal thoughts. I am a big proponent of dealing with the ‘here and now’ and do not wish to engage the propositions of ‘what if’.
To be sure, a healthy loving relationship with your partner can go a long way to keep depression and suicide at arm’s length. But it is also folly to say that by suddenly changing your sexual lifestyle you will necessarily solve all your problems. It might for you, but not for me.
So where am I going with this? I am attracted to men. In my college days I dated men. All I saw were short term relationships with no happy endings. I truly wanted a partner for life to grow old with. I married the woman I thought I might be able to have the best shot of making that happen. It is not her fault. It is me. Another failed decision.
No one just slips into depression and suicidal thought. Like many others, depression has been part of my life from adolescence. Over the years I have learned what triggers the episodes of depression and avoid them as best I could. There were also times when friends and a support network nudged me away from depression, unbeknownst to them.
I have come to the conclusion that the community you live in, and most interact with, plays a dynamic role in your overall mental health. For me, I have found it virtually impossible to connect with any of my neighbors or past church acquaintances. Most of it has to do with the lack of common interest topics in our lives. I am not a big sports guy and I have little interest in engaging in trivial conversations for the sake of politeness. Most of the folks in our community see the world differently with a premium on youth sports, vacations, cars, property, careers and school activities. While these are all great, they do not constitute a foundation, nor do they foster friendships for me.
Believe me, when I am in my element or community of people I relate to, I beam with enthusiasm and engagement. However, most of these folks have lifestyles or interests that don’t mesh with my family. Consequently, I am not in regular and predictable contact with folks that I could I could develop close friendships with. Friends and family can be a mirror of our life. Without a good reflection we begin to wonder about whom we are and what we are living for.
I don’t think I can emphasize enough the vacuum of friendship that exists in my life. For years I have been searching for the intelligent conversation and camaraderie of friends. I am at a loss to know the basis for real friendship since I have failed to maintain relationships over the years. Of course there is always the possibility that I was not meant to have close friendships. For the record, I have never considered myself an asshole. If you ask around most people have a favorable opinion of me: professional, gregarious, helpful, respectful, a real boy scout.
One of my ulterior motives in joining a local gay friendly chamber of commerce was the possibility to meet people I could connect with. (Get that thought out of your mind, I was not looking for a date.) The members of the chamber were professional people that were intelligent and mostly shared my world view. I had many good conversations at the mixers and actually developed a friendship with one of the members. However, I was not seen as part of the club or attended events outside of the chamber, so my interaction was purely on an acquaintance level. Oddly enough, the one friendship I was able to cultivate centered on similar issues with depression and family circumstances.
Like so many issues in my life, I have learned to say, “OK, that’s life, move on, and focus on something else.” But at some point when you have to dismiss 80% of your life goals as unattainable, you start to wonder, “Why in the hell am I living?”
Yuk. How nice the world would be if we could be content with a simpler lifestyle. But my issues go beyond just a simple lifestyle that my family leads. The cars are paid for, albeit aging in place. We have no credit card debt and the mortgage on the house is manageable. So what’s the problem? I have an inherent obsession with maintaining my end of the house hold finances. In particular, insuring that my son attend college. When I can no longer maintain my end of the covenant, failure raises its ugly head.
A failure to generate adequate income reinforces my perception that I am a failure. Obviously I am not the first man to feel this way. I also find borrowing money and going into debt anathema. For the past year and a half I have lived off savings and retirement and those funds are quickly running out. My grand plan to be a successful independent insurance agent has crashed with the reality that I am a crummy sales professional. The failure to fulfill my business plan, not the first business plan failure, translates into a failure as a person. I staked my entire self-confidence on the notion that I am a ‘brand’ that people will purchase. I guess I was wrong on so many levels.
In the final financial analysis, and desperately wanting to avoid debt, cashing in the life insurance policy to make sure my son has the necessary money to go to college seems like a viable plan. My experience of attending college was fraught with a constant battle to work to pay for fees, books, and housing. It sucked. Just because you support yourself through college does not mean you have developed a depth of character that will aid you in the future. It hasn’t with me. My son is far too smart not to have a good college education where he can focus on his studies and not worry about the rent. The grades and courses I chose in college were a direct reflection of my financial situation. Is it an unreasonable goal to help your child rise to a better life than you experienced? College tuition is rising faster than the modest savings I had set aside for my son. It is not fair, but it is reality. My motto: deal with it.
If you are reading this in opposition to my plan of suicide, I am sure you have raised plenty of arguments to my assertions. I will attempt to deal with a few of them.
1. Anti-depressants: They have their place for people who can’t get through the day. I can get through the day just fine. Just because you take a pill to enhance your mood, doesn’t mean you have solved you underlying problems. Please forgive my arrogance, but if I have not been able to fix my fucking problems thus far (which are structural and institutional, not necessarily emotional) how is a pill going to give me any more intelligence or clear vision to do so? Yes, I can take Prozac and admit my life is a failure. I can medicate myself so that I can continue the soul crushing experience of a failed life. Medicine is to ease the pain.
However, emotions are an essential element of life. If we never feel joy, love, anger, despair, happiness, what is the point of existence? Our emotions guide our lives. Without the intensity of emotions, we would all be walking around like zombies. I think it is important to feel the intensity of both welcome and unwelcome emotions. It reminds you that you are alive. If your arm is numb and it gets a horrible cut, but you feel no pain, you may never decide to have the wound treated. Emotions are the nerves in our soul. They alert us when something feels good or bad. In that manner, we can make choices and decisions.
2. You can find a job to fulfill your career goals: At this point, with many attempts to find a different position, I am tired of looking. To heap on bad news, I doubt my capabilities to work for someone else. It is not that I can’t take direction, and I love being a team player, it is the overall arrogance of my mind that precludes most arrangements. In other words, I have worked for too many people that I thought made bad or foolish decisions. With so much of my diplomatic veneer stripped away I have begun to openly speak my mind in such situations. I am prone to say, “Are you sure that is a good move?” or “Are you fucking nuts, that is the stupidest thing I have ever heard of.”
3. Marriage counseling: Without a doubt, we should have gone through marriage counseling years ago. My aversion is that I don’t want to put a patch on a tire that keeps going flat. Again, my vision of happiness and a life path doesn’t necessarily gel with my partner’s. I have caused her too much pain in the past and I don’t want to set her up for more painful experiences on account of my inability to find joy in life. It is strange that I have begun to feel numb to her feelings. That is wrong. Maybe it is just part of depression. What is most important is keeping a stable family for my son.
4. Volunteer your time: I have volunteered with several non-profits and it was good. The operative word here is ‘volunteer’. It doesn’t pay the bills. There are many good causes that are worthy and may take me away from family to fulfill. So what is the impact of an absentee father who has left to follow his dreams?
5. Think of how this will affect your son. True. No argument. My dad was mostly gone from my life from the age of 13. I went onto graduate college and keep it together for another 20 years. My son is smarter than me. He will do fine.
6. Join a support network. Been there and done that. Unfortunately, most support groups are comprised of folks that have problems of integrating and negotiation within society. I don’t necessarily pine for friends or social interaction that I am comfortable with. I can work any room. My issues are structural in nature and can’t be fixed by talking ad nausea. Support networks tend to be an artifice for a real network of support. People, who truly connect with you, share your values and can intelligently mirror back your challenges are very hard to find.
Where are You?
Are there any similarities between my issues and yours? I know what needs to change in my life and so do you. There is no secret that a therapist needs to unlock from the dark recesses of our brain. Can I change enough of the structural deficiencies in my life that cause a feeling of failure to step away from the suicide free throw line? Will the cost of making those changes be greater than the current pain I am experiencing now? To date I have determined that making changes in order to survive will impose greater mental or physical hardships than I can endure. With that prognosis, the cage is fairly secure and I am trapped with only one way out.
Rational as we are, we always keep a spark of hope alive to the very end. We fantasize about unforeseen events or miracles that will shift enough of our lives to relieve the pressure and despair we are feeling. I have those fantasies. But I also know there is a deadline looming. I know the edge is coming up on the horizon. On a good day, the edge gets pushed further out. On a bad day, the edge seems to be increasing in speed towards me. That is just another way of saying that there will come a time when I can’t escape, the despair will overwhelm me and I will take my last trip to the coast.