Sometimes we don’t realize how alone another person can be.
I’m a little shook up today as I write this. I’ve had a few surprises this weekend when it comes to the topic of depression, but in particular I learned an hour ago that Justin Carmical, aka JewWario, committed suicide at age 42. He was a Colorado local. We were hardly close, I’d only met him twice at various conventions, but he was the kind of person that left an impression. A very positive, friendly, overall happy impression. I’d spotted him at Wasabi last year in the Artist Alley walking around on Friday. I never got to see him up close, so I was wondering if it was him, or if he was an oddly internet-savvy cosplayer. I tweeted him that night, and he made a point to come by the next day. We had a good laugh at my cosplayer suspicion and he was kind enough to buy a book. Later that year he made a point to stop by my table at Denver Comic Con just to say hello and see how I was. He seemed like a fun, kind, down-to-earth guy that was laid back and took the world as it came. He didn’t seem 100% satisfied with life, but who does? In general, he seemed happy. Making plans for future projects. Engaged with the world. That he took his own life is just…surreal. It doesn’t seem correct.
I recently watched a TED talk by Andrew Solomon called “Depression, the secret we share,” that I found exceptionally valuable for giving me accurate ways to describe the experience of depression. That it’s not a lack of happiness, but a lack of vitality. Part of what Andrew was seeking was the secret of resilience. How some people could have relatively minor depression and be crippled by it, but others could have horrific depression and yet live in between bouts of deep suffering relatively happy, productive, vital lives. In the end, he concluded that it was the ability to acknowledge and tolerate the depression, to seek meaning in it even if no meaning could be found, that gave many people the resilience to survive and endure and sometimes even thrive despite the hell they had to always return to.
If you are in pain, if you are fading out from the world, if that numbness has claimed your feeling and your vitality, please muster the strength to reach out. Acknowledge it, get help to find that meaning. Even if your mind tells you that it speaks The Truth, that you are nothing, or not deserving of love, or not deserving of life, know that it lies. That you are a human being deserving of health and wellness and vitality, and that you have the power within you to discover those things and create them in your own life. Don’t give up. I believe in you, though I may not know you. I believe with every fiber that there is something worthwhile about you, about everyone, and that the world is better with you here, with you fighting and struggling to find that something and breathe life into it. Please don’t give up.
Someone once told me about a book they’d read that collected the experiences of people that had tried to kill themselves by jumping off a bridge, yet survived. All of them had one thing in common. In that moment after they jumped, they had the sudden realization that every problem that had seemed so insurmountable the instant before could be overcome. Every problem, except the fact that they had jumped.
As long as there is life, there is hope. There are very few problems in this world that cannot be solved, very few mistakes that cannot be remedied. In my experience, depression speaks in absolutes, but the truth is a many-colored, many-faceted thing. There is always tomorrow, if you give yourself tomorrow. Please. Please give yourself that.