Everything about this idea, and the motivation behind it, is to create and hold space for every single person on this planet to share the real. Your real. My real. All the brilliant and amazing things that happen in our lives. And all the dark, painful, awful shit that we have to experience, deal with, and manage.
It’s about being real. Being real about the fact that we all have things that we need, that we don’t get. And things that we want, that we don’t have. Being real about the feelings we have, and the emotions that most of us are taught to crush, squeeze, and keep hidden.
I feel the need to share some of my real this week. I debated sharing it, having my usual internal dialogue about what’s ok for me to share, and if it would even help anyone if I did. I debated it with people around me that I trust to give me their real. And it has nothing to do with the site. But it is about why I’m doing this. It’s about a friend. Someone that matters to me.
I have to preface this conversation by clearly stating that I am not a mental health professional. I’m not a therapist. I don’t offer advice. In the first moment that I realized how serious the discussion was, and where she was at, I said “Those are not things I can help you with. If you are experiencing those feelings, you need help I can’t offer. And you do need that help. Get it.” Those are my actual words from the messages.
I have a friend, that I care deeply about. We have worked together for years. We talk once in a while, but not regularly. And it tends to be these sweet little moments of intense talks about work, or life, or just stuff. She is incredibly successful, has achieved things in her career that most people only ever fantasize about, and she is surrounded by a community of amazing, driven, forward thinking people. It’s fun for me to even just be on the periphery of that and hear stories about what she’s working on.
I hadn’t heard from her for a while. She didn’t know anything about what I’ve been doing here the last few weeks.
I got a message that started like this… “I feel like my whole life has fallen apart. I don’t know who else to tell. It seems everyone I love hates me and I don’t feel I have anything to live for. I’ve been in pain every moment I remember being alive. I’m so tired…” I dropped everything I was doing, and offered my entire focus and attention. That day was for her.
She had me to call. And yet, she still didn’t make that choice until it was her very last option. Why? I have a few guesses, but I can’t say for sure. (I know you will read this, so I will ask you that question when you’re feeling more settled and grounded.)
I’ve been studying human behaviour my entire life. In music and art, it’s about understanding your audience and how to connect with them in meaningful ways. In business it’s about understanding motivation and negotiation, leverage and power. In life, it’s about digging deep into feelings, and history, and experience, so that tomorrow isn’t the same as yesterday. I have dedicated a huge part of my learning to the human mind. And I’ve spent almost 15 years in therapy, of all different kinds, because it helps me understand me, better.
I have felt the impact of suicide in my life, too many times. When I was 14, one of my best friends hung himself in the tree in his front yard. I can still feel the pain and disbelief of the moment that morning, when his mom called to tell me. And I can still hear every word of the conversation he and I had the night before. I don’t think those memories will ever fade.
Depression runs in my family. It’s something that most people struggle with. But it is present in my circles, and in my community. And it’s something that I truly believe is going to become epidemic in the coming years, in our culture.
Through my own thinking, discovery, exploration, and through therapy, I have considered the impact of depression in my own life, and I have amazing tools to help me through those times when my own head gets the better of me. And although I would never consider taking my own life, I have absolutely been through times where I wake up in the morning, disappointed that I didn’t die in my sleep, sigh, and get through the day.
But did I reach out to someone? Nope. Only in the last year have I felt comfortable enough in myself, to ask for help when things get dark. I know what it feels like to be that lost. That broken. Overwhelmed by that feeling of desperation and pain. And I’m lucky. I have people that I can reach out to, and they will be there for me.
How many people in deep depression and contemplating suicide call a professional? Almost none?
How many wish they had someone to call? Or even more, that someone would call them. All of them. It’s probably a large part of the reason they are feeling depressive and suicidal. That lack of basic human connection. The ability to share, and be heard. That’s all we really want. That’s what is at the root of all the things we chase.
Later that day she sent, “I’m gonna solve my life, no more crying. Thank you so much for listening to me and supporting me today. You quite literally saved my life.”
I don’t want to get that message. It makes me sad that she needed to get that far down, before she asked for someone to just listen.
I will listen.