Whilst at work today, I found out that somebody I know died a couple of days ago. It was a huge shock. I wouldn’t have said they were a close friend or anything, more somebody I would deal with each week or so because they came to our studio. During those times, and over the course of 3 years or so, we got to know him. What hit me even harder was that he took his own life. He may not have been somebody I would have hung out with outside of work as we weren’t in the same circles but he always seemed fine. A happy-go-lucky kind of dude without a care in the world. Turned out he did. My immediate thought was “why did he do it?” There could be any number of reasons and the sad thing is that nobody will ever know. Nobody will ever know the pain he was suffering or the utter despair that caused him to check out so soon. A part of me wished I could have helped him or seen the signs, but truth is there were no signs to spot. Plus I didn’t know him well enough to be able to see when he was feeling low. To know that someone is in a dark, lonely place too destroys me. I know all too well how it devours you and you end up with fewer and fewer choices, before you take the only one left.
About this time last year, a customer of ours took their own life too. That also hit me pretty hard. I didn’t find out straight away. Wasn’t until a customer came in asking for a tribute tattoo for somebody with the same name that I clicked. I remember being in shock then as well. I’d reached out to him, that’s what made it a harder pill to swallow. He had his first tattoo with us, which was for his daughter, then we didn’t hear from him for quite some time. He came in one day and said he wanted another tattoo. He told me about how he’d split up from his partner and that he took it hard, more so because his daughter as caught in the middle. He had been to a really dark place but then decided he needed to sort himself out for his daughter’s sake. He wanted his design to represent guiding itself through really troubled times and doing out the other side. I created the design for him and he had it done soon after. Turned out he wasn’t yet out the other side. He took his own life one night, before he was due to go out with friends. During the consultation for his design, we ended up sharing stories of troubled times and how we work hard to keep our heads above water. I remember telling him I respected him for doing it and I took pride in creating the design to help him mark that occasion. I guess that’s why I love my job so much: I can play a part in somebody’s journey. It’s such an honour. I don’t even see it as a job nor do I even think about the money.
So yeh, today’s news, and knowing it was about a year ago that our customer died too, really stopped me in my tracks. It made me think about all the things I’ve written in this blog about suicide. It made me realise I too was so close to the edge. Like another glimpse into a possible outcome, I was seeing the aftermath. How it affected people. How voluntarily checking out may solve one person’s problem, but it creates a fuck tonne of problems for those they leave behind. The unanswered questions, the lack of closure, the torment of “what if I could have helped?” or even not having the chance to say goodbye. It’s driving me crazy just being caught in this dilemma right now. Does it change the fact that I would do it? No. I still would if I had to. So many people are quick to say that suicide is the “easy way out”…but is it really??? Being somebody that has hit rock bottom recently, I can say no it’s not easy. It’s not easy thinking of yourself as a failure and that, no matter what you try, nothing works out. That you spend day after day exhausted because you’re trying to pull yourself out of quicksand. That knowing your decisions will leave permanent scars on those around you. It’s not fucking easy at all. It’s the last thing I want, in fact. The problem is, the longer you suffer like this, the more your choices slip away. Like treading water, you eventually become tired. I have the utmost respect that takes their own life and for those that get through it. Whatever the outcome, the fact is, they fought hard – with everything.
Despite all of this, why would I take the so-called “easy way out” then? Well, a lot of it comes down to being a complete disappointment. A disappointment to those around me, to my family, to those close to me…to myself. If I’d committed a crime, I could face justice and pay for it. If I’d damaged something, I could fix or replace it. But for me it’s not quite a simple case of losing my wife or losing those that know me. Yeh that fucking hurts, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something else that is a problem. Something much bigger than me that simply cannot be changed: life. I was born with this body. There is nothing I can ever do about it. I’m not going to wake up one day and miraculously have the correct body. I will never be something I am not. I’m not going to be able to change the way I am perceived by others, nor will I ever be accepted as the person that I am. No matter what, I will always be a complete mismatch. A person gone wrong. With each day, week, month and year that passes, I am another step closer to just living out the rest of my days like this. It’s a prospect that tears me up. So for me, dying now is simply a way of…well, getting straight to the point…cutting out the misery I will face. Cutting out the misery for others as I have mood swings from not being able to be who I really am or dragging them through the same embarrassment and shame I face every single minute of my life. It’s the best solution all round, to be honest. We all hide parts of ourselves from the world. Parts we’re ashamed of or cannot deal with. Right now, this blog is the only thing (other than me) that knows. Given what happened today, all I can do is make sure those around me do have answers and that they can find closure, should I choose to stop treading water…which is why I’ve decided to make this blog public from today, as opposed to private. It’s a small step though. Nobody knows this exists and therefore nobody will ever think to search for it. Maybe they will one day stumble across this blog? Maybe it’ll just stay hidden forever? Maybe if I do decide to check out, I will leave a trail to this blog so that my thoughts and my inner battle with myself can finally be shared? Who knows. What I do know is that the next person who takes their own life could be me.
Video: “Machines” by Biffy Clyro (via Roadrunner Records’ YouTube page)