I wrote this three years ago, while in Bali.
“He’s crazy,” I said to his wife, watching him jump into the treacherous water as the storm raged on.
“You’re crazy too. You’re standing in the rain.”
I guess she’s right.
It finally stormed today, after 5 days of beautiful weather. It’s a bit like life isn’t it? The storm comes for a visit every once in a while, if anything, just to remind you of the beauty that you could have taken for granted.
But really, even in the storm, there is beauty. In the darkness, in the choppy waters of the ocean that crashes mightily into the rocks and in the heavy raindrops that fall and stings my face, there was a silent beauty.
I was absolutely drenched as I sat by the edge of the ocean and took in the storm. It was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had.
It was an experience I needed to have.
That was all I was willing to share about that moment. That was three years ago.
What I’d left out in that story was that right before I saw the man jump into the water, I was contemplating jumping in too. It wasn’t to challenge myself like the man did, but to surrender to the currents and to my darkest inclinations.
I was contemplating to end my life.
I’d travelled to Bali during a difficult moment in my life, in an attempt to learn to dance with my demons and make peace with my soul. I came back alive, but I very much was dancing on a very thin line then. I didn’t commit the act on that trip because I wanted so very much to prove people wrong. It may not have been the best reason to choose life, but it was my reason, and that was enough.
September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day.
Last year, I wrote this for this day:
We are all just broken souls, striving and longing for wholeness, needing grace every moment of every day. My life isn’t perfect, and I honestly don’t think yours is either. Social media is, as Andrea Gibson aptly writes, a “lousy mortician, desperately trying to make us all look more alive.” Our online personas have trouble telling the truth. Meaning, we mostly don’t post on our bad days.
On my bad days, I refuse to get out of bed, I cry, I throw things, I don’t speak to my loved ones, I get angry at myself, I tell myself I am not worthy. Don’t be fooled. We are all going through our own silent battles – let’s not discount each other’s struggles. Just because our struggles are different doesn’t make it any less real.
Anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts – I’ve been there, I’ve gotten treatment, and I’ve nearly succumbed to the dark pits, but I refuse to let it define me. My tragedy is not my calling card. I have survived, and will continue to choose to survive. I’d rather live life in the open with all the broken bits revealed than pretend to be perfect, because expecting perfection kills, sometimes literally. I have lost many people this way and have my heart broken countless times as I see people I’ve grown to trust walk away after seeing the broken bits, but I have also gained beautiful souls who choose to stick with me regardless as well.
I want to own my life as I walk through it, seeking progress not perfection, and living in grace and by grace and through grace. I want to thank the people whom have chosen to be by me as well, both through the good days and not so good days. I hope we all strive to be kind to each other, for we really, truly, do not know if our acts of kindness, no matter how small, may have just saved another life.
I wrote about choosing to survive. I know for many others who are struggling too, every day is a conscious decision to be alive. There are good days, and then there are days that could be better. Yet every day, we choose to continue to live.
Sometimes that choice comes from an innate resilience, sometimes from a stubbornness to concede, sometimes a person or cause to live for. Whatever it is, we all have our reasons. But I also know that for many of us, we have gone through the darkness, and if not having embraced light totally, at least see a glimmer of light through it all.
Many others have yet to get to that and are constantly enveloped in darkness, and it is for them that I write this.
You are not alone.
We live through our struggles thinking that we’re the only ones going through them. We look around and see others who live seemingly easier lives. We don’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable or to show weakness. We forget that everybody is fighting silent battles and mending hidden wounds. It becomes a vicious cycle when we start setting unrealistic standards and then be unkind to our own struggles and progress.
The thing is, everybody struggles. Some may hurt more than others, some may hurt in different ways.
I encourage you to allow the space to be vulnerable, to take ownership and to respect the pain. Listen – there are many voices of courage that came from other souls. I have heard the shaking voice that had the little bit of courage to walk away from an abusive relationship, to the quiet voice that spoke of surviving suicidal thoughts, to the ones that whispered of processing and challenging self-doubts and resentment.
I don’t think it gets any easier, once you’ve dealt with things such as fear, anxiety or pain. Some days I have terrible anxiety attacks that cause me to reel over and cry, some days I refuse to get out of bed, and then some days I feel really good and ready to conquer the world. A feeling can scare you, or upset you, or make you feel hurt, but they can’t do anything more than that on their own. A feeling can only ruin your life if you take it as a reason to do something destructive. I have had people walk away from me because of my pain, and I have also walked away because of it too. I’m still working on it.
Today, I had two friends reach out to me: One was to speak of her depression and suicidal thoughts, and I sensed her difficulty in dealing with this. I know it will continue to be a struggle. The other was to say thank you for stopping her from committing suicide 15 years ago. For both friends, I told them this: I am here.
It has been three years since I actively considered suicide, I am stronger and better able to manage myself, and I still struggle every day with anxiety, depression and darkness. But this is what I have found: Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.
You are not alone.
Reach out. You don’t have to go through the darkness alone.
The Samaritans of Singapore has a 24-hours helpline: 1800 221 4444.
I have this number saved in my phone.
You are not alone.
And for everyone, I hope we’ll all ask someone “How are you?” today, and to let the people we love know we love them. They need to know, and we need to let it be known.
On another note too, you might need to see this quote: