The End of a Journey #SuicidePreventionSeptember 10, 2016
- As a teenager, you become addicted to drugs and alcohol. Unable to handle life, you commit suicide.
- Having suffered the shame of being homeless earlier and now watching your marriage fail, you successfully kill yourself via carbon monoxide poisoning by running your car in an empty garage.
- Struggling to come to terms with your hidden sexuality, you kill yourself using the gas oven.
- A failure at your job and with no real prospects for the future, you drink a bottle of furniture polish. You successfully die.
- Raped at nine and pregnant at 14, you don't know what to do. So you drink a bottle of laundry detergent and end your life.
The reasons are many but the premise remains the same - you suffered and are sure that there is no way out. You are ashamed of how far you have fallen from where you thought you would be.
It is okay. You need to believe me, it is okay. I hate that you lost but you need to know this isn't the end.
Read it aloud if you must - The end of a journey in life is not the end of your journey in life. Whether it is in love or in your career, whether it is an exam or an ailment, it is not the end of YOUR journey.
You don't know how brilliant your life can be if you only try.
Today, you may be someone who has lost in love. Someone who is divorced or broke or both. Today you are someone who cannot find a single friend to spare a moment to listen to you. Today you are watching everyone else move forward in life while you are sinking.
That is today. And it is going to be a few more 'todays' after today as well, I admit. But a day will come when 'today' won't feel so bad. When the stinging pain of your loss and the dull weight upon your heart won't feel as pronounced. When you start to look forward to tomorrow.
When you finally realize there is more to life than what you lost. I want you to believe in that 'tomorrow'. A tomorrow where things will not only get better but you will acknowledge the role of this loss in making you into the best version of you that you could be. A tomorrow where you can look back and tell your younger self you are proud you held on.
Just believe it exists. That is enough for now.
You are destined for bigger, better things. You will make a mark - a positive mark - in someone's world. It will be a positive one because you have suffered the pain of negativity and know the value of being there for others when they need it.
The empathizing nature of your heart which made you feel the pain of loss so strongly will now help you become the healer just as powerfully, your experience affecting not just your own life but inspiring others to hang on as well and believe that it is not the end of their journey.
Looking back at those examples at the start of this post, you can see how dire those broken souls are. You can perhaps empathize with their pain. If not condone, perhaps you can understand why they chose to commit suicide. But if you can empathize with their loss of self-belief, surely you empathize with their resurgence too?
- The drug addicted teenager did not die. As the years passed by, she toned down her wild streak and focused on her life and career, rebuilding after her tumultuous teenage years. She is an Ambassador Against Hunger for United Nations. Of course, I still remember Drew Barrymore's smile as she struggles to remember her love story in 50 First Dates.
- The divorced woman did not die inside her garage. She went on to become a role model for African Americans all over the world. Till date, Halle Berry remains the ONLY African American to win a Best Actress Academy Award ever.
- The young married man struggling with his sexuality did not die. He accepted who he was and moved on, focusing on what he did best. He went on to sell over 300 million music records, win five Grammy awards, an Academy, a Golden Globe and a Tony award. He would go on to be knighted too, now that I think about it. Of course, to Disney movie lovers, Sir Elton John will always be the man behind "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?"
- The man who failed at his previous job failed in committing suicide by furniture polish consumption too. And it is okay. Because I can't imagine anyone else but the legendary Billy Joel singing Piano Man with so much gusto.
- As for the pregnant girl, well things would get worse for her, I fear. She did survive the suicide attempt but she would lose her child soon after birth. She was a runaway too so really, she had no chance in life. You and I see thousands of street children like her in every busy road of India, don't we? Ah, but she chose not to give up after things got worse which is where this story gets interesting. She went to school, became a grocery girl and later on a radio anchor. Being African American in that era was just another hurdle but I would say she handled it well. She started her own talk show and listened to her audience, empathizing with them instead of judging them. She became what she lacked most growing up - a caring friend. By the time she turned the lights off on her show decades later, Oprah Winfrey was the first African-American billionaire, 'the most powerful woman on Earth (CNN)' and the only living person in Life magazine's '100 People who changed the World'.
If she can change the world after the horrible set of cards dealt to her, can you imagine what you could do if you believe in yourself?
I will see you tomorrow, my friend.
Authors note:Every year on September 10, I write on the topic of Suicide Prevention. Previously I had focused on what should be done from the point of view of both the sufferer as well as the friend of those suffering.
This year, I wanted to focus on the future and the endless possibilities, if you just hold on. It does not apply to celebrities alone. In real life too, I have seen friends of mine teetering on the edge of the sill wondering whether to hold on. They did and their lives changed as time passed, becoming far better than they could ever have imagined as they gave up on old dreams they had once cherished and allowed new ones to enter their lives.
My own did too.