We’ve had several posts recently that have examined the topic of suicide. It’s a very complicated issue, and a difficult one to parse out in an environment where anonymity can sometimes bring out the very worst (and sometimes best, I admit) in people. Thankfully, the Disinfo crowd is a pretty civil one.
If you’ve followed my podcast (and writing) here, then you know that I’ve always striven to be honest with you, especially when it comes to my own personal issues. I have a very long family history of suicides, and I myself have dealt with depression and anxiety my entire life. I talk about those things because I feel like they’re nothing to be ashamed of, and by speaking up then there’s a chance that someone else might not feel like they’re alone in dealing with this stuff.
If I had not resisted those self-destructive impulses (Let’s jump off the parking garage… Let’s drive the car into a telephone pole… Let’s eat a bullet… ) and the negativity (You’re doomed… You’ll never fit in… You’re an embarrassment… ) and spoken up, I would have missed out on a ton of stuff, and I don’t even mean the usual “sunshine and bunnies” things. I never predicted the Internet, and a future in which all of the weird things I liked no longer made me an outcast but instead made me valuable in an cultural environment that finally “caught up” with me and the other weirdos. I never predicted that I’d be working with the Disinformation Company, or Joe Rogan, or Random House, or Sure Design or any of the other things I do. I never predicted that I’d be a podcast host, or be a writer, or travel to New York or San Diego or any of the places I regularly go. I never predicted that I’d marry someone who really, really gets me, or make brilliant, creative friends who consider me family. I never predicted that at 40 I’d be a happy, self-employed, tattooed, media-obsessed, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast with his own show instead of the boring, miserable guy with boring hobbies I was worried I’d become. In other words, life has a way of surprising you. True, not all of those surprises are good ones, but if you can stick it out, things usually go the other way at some point.
If you’re depressed and thinking about hurting yourself, then I want you to know I don’t want you to do so. Chances are that I can’t be where you are to give you the reassuring hug I’d like to extend, or spend the day with you or to go with you for moral support if you choose to see a professional. I can’t even buy you a coffee or invite you over for a meal, if for nothing else to convince you that you have “family”. That’s frustrating to me, because I’ve got a caregiver streak that goes into overdrive when it comes to this kind of thing. Maybe just knowing that I care and have been where you are might be enough to get you to reconsider for one crucial minute. Maybe not.
There are probably resources around you. You’d be surprised how many people really do give a damn if you’ll just give them a chance. Open up and let them know what’s going on. Maybe it’s not your family (God knows I’ve got a couple of destructive, shit-for-brains blood-relatives…thankfully not all of them.), or the people you might even consider “friends,” but they’re out there. There are also professionals who might be able to help. Look around, and find one that you like. I’ve been seeing the same guy for over a decade, and he’s one of the coolest and most helpful people I know, but sometimes you have to look around.
You’ll have to trust me on this. I got through it, and you can too. My struggle isn’t entirely over; I don’t think it ever will be, but things can get a whole hell of a lot better.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
You can also give me a shout on Twitter or by email at matt AT disinfo DOT com. I’d recommend the first option over the latter. I’m a Twitterin’ fool.
Bill Withers also has some advice for you.