"I Wanted to Blow My Brains Out" - A Lesson in Suicide
There is no easy way to write this article. There is no great, clever opening line for me to grab your attention. Only the difficult truth will suffice. I’ve suffered from anxiety for a good part of my life. The depression didn’t rear its ugly head until the past five years. The heavy weight of sadness and hopelessness shifts daily with some days being unnoticeable while others feel like your swimming with a cement brick tied around my neck.
There have been two times in my life where I wanted to kill myself. The first was when I resigned as a police officer, a job I loved and had a purpose in. I left after one of the most challenging years in my life where I was a victim of corruption. A year of fear, paranoia and betrayal from a corrupt police department made me speak out publicly against the city I worked for. I was advised by the people closest to me not to do it. Not to speak out because of the repercussions of becoming a whistleblower. But I couldn’t look the other way. Too many people looked the other way when they could have stopped the corruption. In my heart, I knew I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do it.
I did it, and I felt proud of it, at first. But then an overwhelming flood of guilt, shame and sadness overwhelmed me within a few weeks. I told myself I committed career suicide and I was a person who would never find peace.
I went on a soul-searching road trip across the U.S., and I took my Glock 30 with me. I initially brought it for protection, but the lonely drive made the thoughts darker and made suicide appealing. I planned to blow my brains out when I got to the Grand Canyon. I was to find a moment of privacy, somewhere near the middle of the canyon overlooking the Colorado River and shoot myself in a place I found majestic and peaceful. A.45 caliber through my brain was better then a life of feeling constant dread and hopelessness.
I changed my mind the day before hiking into the Grand Canyon. I know not why, but I decided to leave the gun in the car. Less than a year later I found myself back on my feet and entered a better part of my life.
The other time was recent. I’ve failed at two ill-fated businesses, and I was recently laid off by a prestigious company in an undignified way. I blamed myself, and my depression came back stronger than ever. I’ve found marijuana has been good at keeping it at bay, but I stopped using it because of the drug tests most jobs make you take.
I found myself again with the terrible barrage of soul-crushing thoughts, overwhelming despair and shame as the uncertainty of income grew worse by the day. “I’m a loser.” “No woman will ever love a man like you.” “Why keep going after a dream when it won’t come true in the end?” “Go ahead and jack off again, you fat fuck.” “Your friends are not too busy for you, they don’t like you anymore.” “You will always be broke, and this will never end.” “You’re going to die alone and filled with regret.” “You should just settle.” “You’re a loser.”
My heart raced daily with the dread that all of my life will amount to this; being unemployed, depressed and without someone to love. That all of my choices were in vain and I’m nothing but a fraud and a failure and I’m destined to a life of mediocracy. But, there is something inside of me who wants to keep fighting; who yearns to become something more than who he is.
I finally relented and decided to smoke again because my health is more important than a job. In my stoned hazed I was given a vision and an epiphany. I found myself standing on a trail in a lushest and vast forest. Behind me on this trail was my life with my younger selves at each juncture. The versions of myself who I mocked and felt ashamed of until I realized that those boys and men did fantastic things and made great sacrifices for me to stand on the path.
There was the boy who did not want to be made fun of any more for being an obese child, so he began to run and lift weights, which led to participating in sports in school, to discipline and a healthy body to weather the storms of life.
There was the college boy who was extremely insecure of himself and thought he would never have friends and wouldn’t make an impression. Neither ended up being right. He became charismatic and a go-getter. He became the one who wasn’t afraid of failure.
There was the young cop who was afraid of not amounting to the job but ended up performing one of the bravest acts anyone in uniform could do.
There was the lost soul who went looking for his adventure and found it. He found love for the first time and heartbreak with it. But he created a unique life worth living.
The entrepreneurial man who wanted to define who he is and not let the world do it for him, who failed but at least failed by daring to become something better and not become mediocre.
And now I’m the man standing on the precipice of a trail which hasn’t yet to be blazed.
During this pot induced vision is when I realize this is the moment in my life when I become my own hero. My darkest and difficult moment is when I know in my heart that I still have a chance. This is the version of myself who is going to make things better for my future self. The one who is going to make the sacrifices and risks my past selves’ made matter. This is the one who is going to make the sacrifice, take the hits and keep getting up when I want to end it all. The future is undetermined and malleable, and I will make it better for myself. I will become my own hero.
I will not go gentle into that good night. I will not accept mediocracy nor settle for what life has given me. I am going to rage forth. Not for money, not for fame but my glory. I am worthy of this challenge. I am worthy of living my wildest dreams. I will not accept anything less. And if I fail, then I failed while being bold and not some timid soul.
I wish I could end this with a happy note, that this was written after I’ve overcome the adversity. But, I’m still fighting it and don’t know how long it will last. But, I choose to fight this battle each day. I choose not to kill myself but to dare greatly. To believe that there is a better future for myself and I’m worth the bloody fight. My fate will not be decided by the uncontrolled or the malicious, but it will be forged by my sheer will. I will suffer this bravely. This is the moment when I become my own hero.
“Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”