Friday, July 21, 2017

One More Light

This post will not make any sense.

I don't know where to start. I don't know what to say.

For some of you, it'll be old news to hear this story. The one about the girl in a car calling the suicide prevention hotline. For others of you, it'll be so confusing to relate to Chester Bennington.

So let's go backwards and backwards into the past. Back to late 2014, early 2015. There was no job, no money. There was no health insurance. No school, no passion. Nothing.

When people say they were in a hole, a dark and deep place in their lows, it's so true. Because there's layers and feet and too much to dig through to reach out and touch a living person. And so when this happened to me, years ago, I packed my car after a fight with my parents.

I had nowhere to go, nowhere to live. Nothing to live off except a few dollars from a job I walked out on.

I gave up hope of ever writing anything I loved--I wasn't even sure I loved writing anymore. If I honestly ever did. I had no direction in life.

At the time, I begged my best friend at the time for shelter. And she took me in.

I couldn't tell you if she knew how bad things were.

I'm not sure if she knows even now what was going through my head that evening.

But her world was marriage and date night and a third wheel. I didn't want to impose so I thought of something that would fix so many things I couldn't possibly fix. In my mind, it wasn't that they were broken or that I was. I just assumed that I wasn't compatible with living in this world.

Let me tell you what. You can't argue your way out of that. For broken, you can get parts to replace the things that aren't functioning or you can have someone fix them.

But when you see yourself as a waste of space, as a failure, as something really not meant for this world, you kinda forgive yourself in a sick way and in a way, you make peace with getting yourself out.

I sat on the couch just listing all the ways I was right. I'd never really thought anything through so this just solidified my means to the end. I mean, when you see all the things you've never been good at and you think of all the ways there's nothing left for you, understandably, you can tell yourself that it's okay.

The peace came soon and I thought, you know, I've gotten this far, I might as well just see what the suicide hotline is about. I already knew I was going to do it. I didn't have a lot of options. I had tried to reel myself in several times before, but I'd never seen the bottom.

I went to the car, saying I had an important call to make. Not that I thought anyone knew what I was talking about.

I called the hotline and got a guy named Al or Allen (who I am trying to find.) We were talking and some of the things he asked, I didn't want to say.

I think a part of me already knew I was going to make an attempt because I vaguely remember reading things about how suicide hotline people had a pretty high suicide rate themselves or how they could dispatch police to an area.

He knew he'd be getting nowhere with me so we talked. I surprised myself by knowing exactly how I wanted to die.

I'd always really loved driving and I knew I could drive for a few hours to a desolate place and you know, drive my car right into a bride thing and boom, done.

I wanted it to be far so there'd be less of an issue. I considered leaving my ID or scrolling a note on the back of a receipt that said no living relatives or something so no one would be bothered.

I felt better telling him and knowing he wouldn't find me in time. If he could trace my phone, I was already planning on dropping it in a garbage bin somewhere opposite of where I was headed. It'd be moot to send police after me. It just would be.

I was pretty calm after awhile, just letting things fall into place, when I heard him get slightly panicked.

I'd done enough damage in one lifetime to not feel horrible immediately. I think I apologized profusely.

The last thing I wanted to be was the person who broke his heart and made him feel like I felt. I swore up and down I wasn't going to do it anymore and he begged me simultaneously to stay on the line.

I couldn't cope with that. I didn't want to be thrown into a center to protect suicidal people. I didn't want to bring that to other people in my life so I hung up.

He kept calling and calling. And I thought of throwing my phone away. What did I have to lose? But I kept it.

I felt so guilty, I went to movie night, minded my own business, and didn't even cry that night. I felt so bad for terrorizing that poor boy.

He kept calling and calling the next day until he gave up. And the only thing that made me feel better was that he knew I must have been alive. He knew how I was going out and that sort of thing made the news and I kept ignoring his calls too.

I prayed, the first time in a long time, that he was okay. That he'd feel stronger that he'd please just be okay.

I went to pick up some stuff from my parents' house and my dad and I made up. It wasn't and isn't the end of my almost suicide story. And it's not necessarily a sad thing. Hear me out.

One of the things that I sorta learned by myself over the years is that there's this thing where yes, more people are recognizing and owning depression and other mental illnesses. Going to counseling, taking medication if they need it, supporting and promoting self-care, but there's also this other dark side no one likes to talk about which is, in my opinion, the reason so many people with chronic, reoccurring or just season depression.

You will not win.

It's not something you get over. It's not a flu where you get rid of it, babes. It's not.

Some of us have it for all of our lives. We might be able to control it with one remedy or the other. Some of us will only have it rear its head every few years, some every few hours.

People need to stop telling us that we're going to beat it. It's not a defeating thing to say you have to get up and do this all over again. It's not.

Babe, you survived the day before this. You can do this again today. It gets tiring. Of course it does but you only have to fight battles in increments you want to.

It's not easy, but it's not fair to tell someone that there will always be nonstop happiness. That the dragon's slain and there's no more sadness.

We are always growing. Always, always, always. And every new person we are we will have to face new dragons. Things will be hard, but we are made to be resilient.

I've been trying to look for Al for the longest time. I just never really wanted to come out and say it. I was scared that by telling the Internet about him that he was going to be upset with me or that I'd find something horrible out, but I wanted to let him know I lived all these years and I will live many more because of our phone call.

His job was in no way easy. But listening to me and talking to me about little solutions, it carried me to a few months later to an even that has saved my life.

I'm not saying the next phone call you make it will help you. If you are suicidal or have depression, all I want you to know is one you are not alone and two this isn't your fault.

Go easy on yourself. There were some days where I could do something as complex as listen and mend other people's problems at the day job and there were some days where lifting a spoon was the great achievement.

Every day there's this thing where I have to start over. Yesterday doesn't matter in a sense. Tomorrow doesn't either. Today, I chose to progress in my writing, to find good things to do for others, and to live.

I don't have to become a celebrity. I don't have to become the happiest human being on Earth. I don't have to be the world's most vied for spouse.

I just had to be alive. Just to see what the day was about.

Every day for me is a day that can break me. I never know what will happen. I think about rock bottom a lot more these days. I could be seeing it really soon. Sometimes I wonder if I'll be able to climb back out of the hole I was in, if the footholds from before are still where they were last time.

But every day I tell myself to just do what I think I can and if nothing else can be done, just don't aggravate myself.

I mess up some days majorly. Some days I cry until I can't see. Some days I'm furious and I miss out on thanking God for the sunshine. Some days I fuck up and I slide backwards.

But then the next day starts and it's all over again.

We have to pick our battles. We have to keep our energy up.

As a kid, I heard: evil never dies, but good never gives up. It's an always thing.
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Back when all of this bottom of the well thing happened to me, I didn't have faith. I did and I didn't. I was raised Catholic. Did all the little rites and everything.

But after my auntie died of cancer, I was constantly mad at the sky. Constantly mad at everything and everyone because no one in the world should die before 40 and leave behind kids. No one who loves life should be torn away.

Oh and by the way, sometimes that's shitty too when you're suicidal. You feel ungrateful for not having a way out. Take it from me, stop being so hard on yourself.

A few months after my talk with Al, I got dressed in clothes that just barely fit me. I'd gained weight from stress eating and I didn't want new stuff to grow out of, but I got in the clothes that passed as presentable and I drove down to my school to see if there was any way we could pause my payments until I got a job.

I was nervous. I was having flashbacks to Al. I wondered if he'd pick up the phone again if I called.

I went to a place where I was going to do the first attempt anyway so it all seemed to fall into place too.

I was a true believer in signs so this was just soothing in a way but also horrifying since I'd stepped back into my family's lives.

So I drove to the school, met with the financial person and in literally ten minutes, she smiled and said yup and let me know when you have a job and we'll go back to payments.

I must have sat there looking lost for a moment. I walked out in a daze into the sunlight. Everything seemed to be normal for everyone else.

I felt like a grenade with the pin out and I was scared for people around me, but I didn't go off. And that was weird too.

I expected carnage as I backed out and headed home. The drive home was three times the time of the meeting and it was just so weird. I thought of my phone and how I didn't realize I could have probably just said as much over the phone and gotten the same reply.

I expected to feel humiliated and to feel low after telling them I had no money and no income but I just walked out and no one stuttered or paused or gave a second thought.

I got stuck at a nasty stop light. I remembered it from my days in school. And I'd swear on a stack of bibles that I thought I wasn't alone in the car.

As an ex-Catholic-slash-maybe-atheist-slash-God-hater, I thought I knew the presence riding in the passenger seat. And no, Carrie Underwood, it was not Jesus.

I had flipped off the ceiling and the clouds and statues and saints. I'd bashed, ripped, laughed at, thrown away all this religious memorabilia. I had shut down and basically sang hail satan to my Christian family, but I swear there was a person riding with me.

I've told such a small group of people that story, mainly because I didn't know how to say it and feel right about it. I don't know. I just--the story has always been strange and surreal to me. It wasn't like I looked over and there was a bearded man there.

I was stopped at a stop light and you know how sometimes you can sense someone walking to you or in the room? How there's almost static in the air? I could almost outline the static shape in my passenger seat.

Calm and quiet as ever. Probably had always been there. Probably sat down next to me in the financial office. Probably sat in the passenger seat with me while I poured my heart out to Al. Probably would have sat with me when I drove that car around concrete.
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I had been so mad and so distraught for so many years at that point, almost five, that I had begun to think there really was no God. So to feel someone sit beside me despite the silent treatment, it's safe to say that I drove really slow and in tears the whole way home.

You know, a few months after this drive, I still wasn't getting a job so suddenly one morning while getting dressed, I thought of that precious aunt I lost years ago. I asked her for help. I don't even know why. To this day, I can tell you I have no idea. I just blurted it out.

The same day I got a job. It's funny because that job sucked but I got out of the house, I met a nice lady, I had a lot of beautiful and weird and wild experiences and because of that job, I found the job I'm at now.

And call me crazy. Call me a nut job. You can't bring me down, but I believe this job I have now was her intention all along.

Because I have an incredible support system. Incredible friends.

I could never stand a place for too long before. I always was skipping out on jobs or quitting or giving notice or falling off the payroll and I've spent way more at this new job than I have anywhere else. Happily, for the most part, haha.

My bills get paid. I go out. I have money. I have a loving and wonderful family. And I have faith.

I just wrote all of this down and I still can't believe this is what is basically the end of the story. (In a way the end.)

In that car that night, I couldn't fully use my lungs. I couldn't even imagine another minute going by. I hated the idea of morning. There was no way I thought I'd see the light of the next day, let alone twenty-five.

I never thought that I'd find anyone to dream of a family with. (And I did and though it was brief, it didn't kill me.) I didn't think I'd ever lose weight. (Twenty pounds and counting!) I didn't think I'd feel like I meant anything and yet now I'm impressed with most things that I do. In a totally self-loving way.

I can't believe what my life has turned into. And though my plans for the future lately have scared me to death and I know what's next isn't going to be easy--not by a long shot--I just need to let myself take every increment of time and live it like I want to.

If one day I can only pick up a spoon, I will congratulate myself for picking up that spoon.
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Every day I choose to acknowledge my depression. It's not like it's gone away. I look in the mirror, see what three hours of sleep do after stress and anxiety and I smile and say, "Let's do this again."

And I won't let anyone belittle me on that. That little thing, it took a lot of courage and pain and tears and sometimes blood to achieve. And it makes me happy to start the day fighting.

Some days I'll fuck it all up by not wanting to leave the bed or turn on the laptop or by watching numbers or focusing on the highlight reel of someone else's life instead of loving the off stage work of mine.

And that's fine. Beating depression isn't being happy every day. It's not letting the motherfucker take your life. Take your right to try again and again.

I have such senseless guilt over Chester's passing. I am so mad and sad and angry and hurt and bewildered by the news today.

But I'm not surprised either.

I've been struggling with depression what feels like my whole life so naturally, who better to rage with than with Linkin Park?

I never thought something as simple as we should get him help. I thought it was like talking to someone on the bus after a bad day or venting with a friend about feeling tired.

The signs were all there. No one would mistake Linkin Park for being subtle. But I always thought it was a vent, not a diary.

One of the best things to do as family, loved ones, friends, and fans of people in this state is to remember something. And as people who have depression or other illnesses.

You cannot save someone. You can only love them.

You can build a community. You can listen to them. You can keep their pieces together in some ways, but you can't keep them together if they don't themselves.

I know for some of you reading this, you'll be overwhelmed by that. But remember the spoon thing. Babes, you're not alone. Not by a long shot.

For loved ones, you'll feel helpless and it's not being helpless. It's self-care and it's structure. Don't build guilt where there was no intention to cause harm.

Communication is so important too. It really is. Talking. Venting. But also empowering each other. We are all capable of defeating our dragons. It might not feel like it. I know. I've seen that end, but we can do it.

We might come out all scratched up and altered from it. We might not be the same, but carbon faces great pressure and becomes a diamond.

I feel more guilt about not empowering Chester more. I feel guilt over that so this is why I wrote this post.
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After my life started to resemble a life and not just a hole, I was a little reluctant to go back to the whole God edge of it.

I hadn't told anyone it had saved me. Actually, no one even knew there was something to save me from.

I'd say 2015 it was like I was born again. Not in that spiritual sense but I feel like that year, I learned to talk again. I learned to walk. I learned to love. I learned these things all over again with less pain but more confusion than the first time.

I didn't know how any of it would turn out.

I was actually still under the impression that something would fall apart in November--which was when on top of my regular depression I'd get seasonal depression (like come on, really?)--and I'd just shrug and say, okay, time to die.

That's when I met my new boss and now coworkers/friends. Still. Just cruised along. Day to day.

I tried to be gentle with everyone. I didn't want to leave a big footprint on anyone in one way or the other, and I rediscovered a love for the field I was in.

That winter, I didn't think anyone at my new job liked me, but I was surprised not to be hurt. I was surprised when I realized I was one of the new hires that they did like.

And so again, one day at a time. I allowed myself to think you have a way out. Don't be scared. Whatever it is, we'll face it one day at a time. It'll be okay.

I treated myself with the love and gentleness I always wished someone else treated me with. It was yet again another thing that saved my life.

It also stuck around. Have I mentioned I love myself? Because I do.

Um, so as the second year progressed and I passed that first anniversary, I was a little worried. I mean, I didn't want the bottom of the well, that whole suicide plan to spring on me and not be ready for it, but there was no huge dragon to fight.

There'd be little dragons. Like thinking I couldn't possibly stay at the job I was at--I was afraid to fail when things didn't go to the speed of my drum. Like falling out of touch with certain family members.

But those little dragons they were easy to talk to. They were easy to compromise with.

A year and a half after that call, about that time at least, I was already deciding religion the way it was was not for me. It wasn't looking at people who considered suicide as people who needed help and not to be damned to hell. It looked at people with mental illness as ungrateful when I knew so many people did or thought what they did out of self-mercy or a last act of self-love.

So I figured that wasn't it but I was still spiritual. I decided to believe what I felt in the car was real. The fact that I got a job when I had tried so hard, just by asking the woman who started this journey, was also real.

And so that was where I was at. Again, I believed there were signs everywhere. In that frame of mind there was a perfect happy way to run into heavenly advice. Pinterest.

I have a full board with random little sayings that popped up and at the time that I opened Pinterest they meant something so specific to me.

Meh. Another thing no one else has to believe to validate for me. But you can see this crazy timeline of all the crazy and wonderful and painful things I had to live through 2015-2016.

But one of the things that never made it onto the board of Words to Live By were the words that keep me alive. I know, I know. I keep saying the above events happened that saved me. And they did. But they can be perfectly summed to Psalm 147: 4. Yes. I have that memorized.


Like I said, pit. Sadness. Alone. Sad. But having a being who not only created everything but could keep track of all the tiny specks of light in the sky and know their name and their struggle, how can you not love someone who knows you so well? And loves you above all the things you have done that other people might see as unforgivable?

My saving grace was God. Every time I go through my board, I just want to sing literal praises. I want to tattoo all the love I have for Him on my body so every time He sees me, He can't help but be reminded.

But friends, this is not me trying to convert you. I wouldn't know what to convert you to, first off.

This simple love taught me to give simple love. Like most things, some days I do fail and some days I just can't do it right, but I learned a lot from this passage in the last three years.

If you want the nonreligious version of this passage, despite how many people there have been or ever will be on this planet or outside of it--let's colonize the moon!--you are not alone. You are never alone. It might not always seem that way, but someone out there has gone through or is going through the same thing.

Don't be scared. If you made it this far and your story wasn't just like mine and maybe you're in the suicide stage or maybe you're in the nothing's blowing up it's scaring me stage, we share something. I swear we do. Everyone on the planet shares something with each other.

I'll pray all night for each of you. Courage to reach out is a miracle in and of itself. But I hope you do. I hope you find your Al or you find your friends who feel like your soul's family.

I understand when there seem to be so many reasons to do one last act of self-love. For those of you who have religion, in my heart, I can't imagine a creature who would sentence you to torture after living through so much.

But I also desperately hope that I meet more of you. That we become friends. And that we fight dragons together and maybe have a sundae or an exotic candy when we trip up a little.

This has been the hardest post in the world for me to write. Through tears and guilt and fear, but I can't not try. I can't live with not publishing this, raw, and maybe reaching one of you who might need to hear a survivor.

That night when I felt like there was nothing left, when the people closest to me were through hard clay ground and pebbles and I was so tired from even trying to climb out before to even think of trying again, I needed Al. I needed him more than I ever knew I needed a stranger.

There is no shame in asking for help when you need it.
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And now, even as I write this post, the first, very first post that's on Pinterest is this:

"God can turn A worryer into a warrior. A trial into a triumph. A mess into a message. A test to a testimony."
And I think I am doing the right thing. It might be hard. I have no idea how my family will deal when they find out about this, but I've seen scarier things. And I know I can face this.
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Finally, I originally named this A Moment is All We Are, after the song Chester sang after his friend died. I thought this blog wouldn't have a form or a structure. I really had no plan other than to tell you guys how guilty I felt.

I changed the title because in the hearts and lives of the people we love and we help and who help and love us, we are forever. Forever, my loves.

Instead, the title alludes to the same song by this title. You might just be one more light, one more star in this huge sky full of stars, but you are still a star. Someone knows you by name. Someone knows what you're going through.

You mean something to someone and you always will.
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If you need any help, please don't hesitate to contact me.

I have a Tumblr (Sailor Moon and Not) with open messages and asks. Anon or otherwise.

I have an email: ebelleful @ gmail.

I have a Twitter where I can do DMs.

If you want to have a virtual beer with me over Chester's life, cheers, let's do this.

If you need someone to cry with about Chester, I got you.

If you need someone to talk to, an Al, there are hotlines and there's me.

I have no doubt in my soul that we can do this and that you specifically can clear the clouds over your head or spring out a cute umbrella. And I love you all, you resilient perfect imperfect babies. And I do mean it.

<3

If you have any information on Al, who worked at a hotline end of 2014 (I wish I could remember what hotline I called,) please let me know! I really want to tell him what's become of the girl who wanted to wrap her car around a bridge. And to thank him for all the brave things he did that night to save my life.