Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Island

A terrible thing happened today. 

It didn't happen to me, but it's touched a lot of people I know.  Someone much beloved by many of my friends is gone and he left in a terrible, difficult to understand way. 

I'm not going to tell you about my feelings because this isn't my tragedy.  I never met Justin.  We spoke once or twice in the RDA chat, but that's about it.  I'm not going to claim ownership of this pain though I sympathize with that of his friends and family. 

Instead, I'm going to talk about pain.  The kind of pain that exists inside you like some terrible island on which you're marooned alone with someone who hates you and knows all your soft targets. 

Maybe you don't know that place.  Maybe you can't even imagine what kind of pain could make somebody want to take their life.  I hope you don't. 

I've written about depression a lot here.  I've written about my personal battle with it, which is one I still fight every day.  And the circumstances of my life of late – which I won't go into here – have left me in that place more than once lately.  That horrible, "please don't let me wake up tomorrow, they'd be so much better off without me, I can't take it anymore" place. 

What gets me out of that place?  Different things.  Sometimes a friend helps me, sometimes my family.  Sometimes I just ride it out and hate myself for it. But part of me is always stuck on that island.  Even on good days, the Smoke Monster* is lurking somewhere in that jungle waiting to reflect all my greatest failures back at me until I crack. 

If you don't know that place, it's hard to even fathom it.  Even if you do – if you live there yourself – it doesn't fully make sense.  I know why I should be gone, but anyone else?  It's insane.  

And it is.  It's insane.  But it's also real. 

Some of you do know that place.  Some of you are there right now.  And to you, I beg:  don't suffer alone.  Don't let that monster inside you who hates you be the only voice with whom you converse.  Talk to someone.  Reach out to a friend, or to family, or to a hotline.  Because however hopeless it seems and however alone you feel, somebody in this world loves you.  Somebody wants you here.  Somebody will be devastated to lose you. 

Don't get caught up in trying to get off the island for good.  If you're like me, you'll wind up back there many times in your life.  But what I've learned is that getting back there isn't failure – you just have to know that it isn't forever. 

A lot of days right now my situation seems too much to bear.  A lot of days I wake up only able to look forward to going back to sleep.  I know how it feels to look down the tunnel and see no light.  But I also know that my brain hates me and I can't always trust it.  I know I have to ask other people for help sometimes.  I know that if I can find it in me to fight it can get better. 

If any good is to come from this, it's in the people who loved Justin (whether as a friend or as a personality) learning from the loss of him. 

Don't suffer alone.  Don't hide.  Don't let it win.

*Sorry.  Once the island metaphor happened, a LOST reference became inevitable.


  1. Y'know, even if it's you (making it obvious that the smoke monster is a Lost reference), the idea of the lurking smoke monster is not too far off.
    I don't know how well-known this is, but when my Dad started seeking professional help, I noticed a book he recently got: "I Had a Black Dog" by Matthew Johnstone. I found this book to be quite amazing. Both objectively (explaining depression to people who don't suffer from it) and subjectively (as I have to deal with that damn dog myself every now and then).
    Maybe you can spread this little animated version of the book a bit further than I can:

  2. I have clinical depression. I've been in that dark place. It's never pleasant, but I've never let it get me. It's sad that it got Justin.

  3. Well said, Tara. Well said. And that Lost reference was very appropriate.

  4. Thank you, Tara. I think you said it beautifully.

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    1. This has been said, but it bears repeating: thank you, Tara. Thank you for using the time to use this difficult time to try to reach out to others. The more we learn from tragedy, the more can be done to prevent it. You touch more people's lives than you will ever know.

  6. I think you are exactly right. It is interesting to hear someone explain it this way and know that they are correct. We sometimes forget that people have this unfortunately shared experience. It is not fun and everyday can be difficult. I won't say I know where you are coming from. But rather, I know exactly where you are. I am there as well.