For the Ones Who've Taken Their Lives, and Those Who've Wanted To

CW: discussion of suicide, suicidal ideation, mental illness

We are linked. 

Across oceans and time zones and maybe even eras. Spanning languages and cultures and hopes and dreams. Different loves. Diametrically opposite beliefs.

Yet we are linked.

Unspeakably, a bond none of us would have chosen. 

Invisibly, a tether no one would willingly tie onto.

So deeply, buried under layers of personal history and unscalable walls and abuse and addiction and pain and fear and hurt and that thing that no word in the English vocabulary can truly encompass, but maybe anguish will come close?

We are linked. 

I don’t know you. I never knew you. I doubt we walked the same plots of Earth at any moment in time. It’s unlikely I would have recognized you had I seen you. And yet we remain connected.

I feel the loss of your soul. The loss of your brilliance. The loss of your light. I mourn you. I grieve.

I grieve for you — for the hole your loss wreaks. I grieve because you should be here still, shouldn’t have been hurt in this way. I grieve as I picture you in that place: that sorrow and that hopelessness and I can’t imagine the finality of those moments and my heart drops into the abyss and oh. I grieve. I miss you. I didn’t know you, yet we are linked, and I miss you.

I grieve for your family — for their loss and suffering and the ghosts that will settle into the attic of the homes they buy; the devil that will perch on their shoulder daily whispering guilty reminders into their ears; the poltergeist that will toy with their very sanity. It wasn’t their fault. Just because it’s true doesn’t mean it’s easy to believe.

I grieve for the world — because every time we lose someone to suicide, each one, from the child who was bullied to the musician who was addicted to the designer who was ill to the ones like you, like me, who are contributors to our communities, the world suffers. I grieve at your loss. All of you. 

And, in the end, I grieve for me — because I know the pain, too. I know the vibrancy of it, its thrum through my veins, its potency and insistence that I listen to it right now. How can it be ignored? I grieve for me because I know this pain, and I am living with it still, and that is immeasurable sorrow. 

We are linked. Millions of us, the world over, living and breathing under the same moon and sun, in vastly different situations under circumstances that couldn’t be more unlike each other. Yet this we have in common. 

Freaking mental illness. 

I grieve our loss, yet celebrate our lives.

In the days of our lives, we have created. We have loved. We have laughed. We have fostered joy in others, allowed them reasons to smile. We have given birth to era-spanning, breathtaking worlds of fantasy; or we have composed musical accomplishments of impossible beauty; or our paintings and drawings and sculptures have thundered with life and vibrancy; or our dances have inspired joy and tears, laughter and creativity in those to come after.

There have been worldwide giants among us, and there have been the regular ones of us, whose greatest accomplishments include the community theater or their children or a family newsletter. 

No matter whether the number of those touched is in the single digits or the millions of souls, each life had an impact, a distinct impression.

Each one mattered.

Each one matters.

I celebrate us. Each breath dragged in despite the agony it caused. Each exhale pushed out despite the friction, the hurt. I celebrate it. 

There are days when just opening my eyes feels like…feels like the hardest job in the world. When it feels like there’s no way I can keep going. Just let the day pass me by and the darkness fall like a comforting blanket again and wrap around me and smother me, eventually.

This life is hard. It’s hard enough with depression, without a personality disorder, without anxiety, without any number of you-name-them mental illnesses.

With them, it feels impossible at times. 

And yet. 

Here I am. Here you are, reading this. 

I’ll celebrate that.