Trigger Warning: This post discusses thoughts of suicide.
I’ll begin by stating that this has been, and still is, an ongoing journey, not so dissimilar to Joseph Campbell’s 1988 description to Bill Moyers of the hero’s journey from his 1949 book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
I laid there, in the deep grass on the east side of Morrow Pond, looking out over the water waiting for ducks to arrive. It was beautiful. The maples were shades of brilliant reds. Other trees were yellow, and of course, the conifers were still their deep, deep green, all except the tamaracks. The wind was blowing with occasional gusts and the sun was shining. Other than the gentle choreography of the wind - the rustling leaves, the dancing grass, and the bobbing ducks, everything was still. Everything was quiet. I thought to myself that this would be a wonderful place to end it; end the pain. All I had to do was place the shotgun on my forehead, lean forward and push the trigger. I was positive that I wouldn’t feel a thing.
Other times I thought about how easy it would be to just suddenly move into oncoming traffic or walk into the icy St. John River waters at the back of my house. I’d float until the cold made me fade to black and that would be that. Would I leave a note? Should I leave a note? What would everyone think? I contemplated that some would mourn my passing, some would be angry at my selfishness. In the end, everyone else would just carry on living. Would I end up inflicting unnecessary pain on my friends and family? Absolutely I would. The stigma alone would be enough… Would it be short-lived or would my family and friends be consumed by the anguish caused by the suicidal death of a person so close to them? Would they begin to believe, on any level, that they had a part to play in this, that they contributed to my pain, and therefore my death somehow? Of course, they played no part but they would quite inevitably be negatively affected; I’m sure my family would be traumatized and hurt beyond measure.
When I was young, like a lot of other kids who have a tough time growing up in a household that is always in a state of chaos and confusion, I believed that the ongoing war between my parents was somehow my fault. It made me question my validity and value, although I didn’t realize what I was really thinking at the time. I believed that if I hadn’t been born, all of this pain wouldn’t have ever surfaced and my brothers and sisters would be just fine.
But I couldn’t do it then nor could I do it at the pond… I couldn’t do that to my family – Emily, Joseph, and Tracey. I just couldn’t do it. At least that’s the excuse I told myself. I couldn’t find the courage or the resolve to make a decision and just end my life. How weak, feeble, and useless I had thought. Lost, there in the grass, I started to cry like a sad little boy.
This is my introduction to an open dialogue with you regarding mental anguish, suicidal thoughts, and recovery. I want to expose my own vulnerabilities by sharing my experience and we want you to share your experience and comments with us, whether it is below in the comments or a personal message to the Strayboar Project. If we can manage this, I believe it will aid in understanding how we can transform our attitudes and perceptions to enable us to realize how we can begin to better ourselves in order to be happy. I want to show you how being vulnerable, here, and hereafter is true strength. I’m not sure how many parts I will write but I will write about my trials. We will cover causes, crashing, asking for help, and recovery. I highly encourage you to discuss your issues and insights at the same time. We want to hear your stories, your failures and your triumphs. This isn’t about just you or me, it’s about everyone. Our naked vulnerability hides no shame or embarrassment and is meant to help others in some small way. So please, join us so that we can save a life!