I hate telling people I’m suicidal. Before today, maybe three people knew. Suicide’s not a big deal. Everyone has their l’appel du vide. Suicide transforms that moment to an eternity—rarely as a direct plunge into the deep. It’s being trapped, waiting for the tide to drag me into an ocean of obmutescence where my darkest thoughts scavenge the remnants of my emotions. Life would be easier if it were all darkness, numbing and soft. The streaks of light painfully remind of what was good, what I lost.

Smiles disappeared first. Bright emotions required more to spark. Passion withered. In this fallow soul, disinterest sprouted, its weedy grasp unnoticed until fully grown. “You were such a happy child,” my parents told me, “always laughing, getting involved. We don’t know how this happened.” I remember that boy—though only through pictures. His grin was stolen by a cruel world and its inhabitants, who revealed his insignificance in the enormity of life.

Nothing about my life matters. No one depends on me. Waits for me. Seeks me. Yearns for my thoughts. My presence, my existence, is irrelevant. I am least among my four brothers; my absence wouldn’t upset the family dynamic. My job is so basic any of my numerous highschool coworkers could supplant me. A manager gleefully informed me, “Everyone is replaceable, Kyric. Even you.” My world is my bedroom, and I sluggishly vacillate between the computer and the bed. Only work and necessity unchain me. Consistency propels even as it poisons. Days become dazed. Things change, but they are merely variations on an all too familiar theme.

Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day. Another day.

Like this, dear reader, even you don’t want to see another day.

I’ve tried to make a difference, tried to change. I tried and gave and fought to no avail. All my kindness, my love, my effort frittered away, netting nothing. People couldn’t see. Or didn’t care to see. Wanting something, all I received were resounding questions. “What point is there in doing anything? Why converse if no one responds? Why help others if they neglect to help another? What’s the point of trying if nothing changes?”

Thirty years have passed in my life. Thirty years wasted. Looking back, I can’t pinpoint anything of which I’m proud. I’ve done nothing worthwhile, accomplished nothing. People tell me otherwise. They say I’m special, smart, proficient, good. No. Different. Demanding. Difficult. More could be accomplished; betterment hides beyond the horizon. My actions were nothing, the bare minimum of effort and human decency. Unable to see beyond and seize betterment embittered me. I am torn apart by the desire to do something and the wearied ease of doing nothing more. Their constant grind eroded my soul, crushed my concern. Caring is difficult without connection.

Since my youth, I’ve never felt truly connected to anything. Not people. Not God. Not dreams. Not work. Nothing to anchor me or guide my course. When asked the hated question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I force a smile and lie. Five years? I have difficulty envisioning myself at the day’s end. I, a purposeless soul adrift on the empty void, had only death. Death was closer than any friend, more reliable than any plan, more earnest than any lover. When the world collapsed and scorned me, death was there too. I finally didn’t have to chase or beg. Death approached me, wanted me. It’s no surprise I became so attached. That the most beautiful thing I could imagine was no one crying at my funeral. To never have been close enough to hurt anyone or be meaningful to them in any way. 

This pathetic existence galls me. There is no meaning in it, no joy. Life has become perfunctory, a series of necessities. Desire plays no role. Even the things that bring a modicum of enjoyment feel like wasted time because I know I should be doing other, more important things. But I don’t. I can’t. Ironically, they too seem meaningless. And with no meaning, no purpose, actual living ceases.

I hate telling people I’m suicidal because it’s a difficult concept to receive. By now, the initial shock has fueled a concern, a need to connect, to comfort, to assure, to do something to make the situation right. But that concern won’t make this right.

Others’ actions, though meant to help, are different, and that difference preys upon my thoughts. They’re only acting like this because they know. They didn’t do this before. They don’t actually care. Guilt and shame drive them. The thing is, I want to be invited to dinner because you desire my company, not because you know I’m starving.

People never want to believe. They claim this isn’t the Kyric they know. The quiet, clever, gentle soul. The rapt listener. The kind encourager, always smiling, always willing to help.

What do you know about anyone beyond what you want to see and what they allow you to see? Succumbing to lies is easy.

I hate telling people I’m suicidal because it’s a difficult concept to expose. It feels like raving or whining. I never wanted to plea for attention, not when others suffer too, perhaps worse than me. I didn’t want to appear weak, useless, or false, though I am all.

 I couldn’t save myself, so I thought I could at least spare others. I’ve lived the darkness, the despair. It’s constricting, exhausting, despicable. It doesn’t need to be crowded too. Others shouldn’t have to contract my burden.

Despair was easy to disguise. Pretending was part of the game. People don’t care, provided they win. Their satisfaction didn’t require truth. This was painful too, but I embraced it anyway because I felt I had purpose again. I adopted Gilraen’s words as my own: “I give hope to mankind; I keep none for myself.”

Like this, I could continue being the Kyric everyone saw, the Kyric everyone needed. I chose to drown, hoisting others to my shoulders, enabling them even one more gasp of air. I could take others’ darkness. Only I had to suffer, to sacrifice. Because only I didn’t matter. Everyone else had worth, had reasons to flourish. One can be exponentially greater than itself, depending on how many zeroes it stands on. Bitterly, I knew my place—a zero, and nothing more.

Or rather, I am a lighthouse. Even if I have saving light within, I have no eyes to see it. My attention is on the storm. The thrashing waves. The darkness. The floundering. Solitary, I stand at the precipice, a pillar of weathered stone cradling a glass heart. The desperate and needy revere me but never return aid. Visitors occasionally marvel at this curiosity but have their own lives and agendas and care not for a lighthouse. A lighthouse functions as it must without a word.

I hate telling people I’m suicidal because it’s moot. The likelihood of me killing myself is infinitesimally small. My despair has never dragged me into action. A reason has always prevented me.

In the beginning, it was fear. My faith was enough to question my final destination, not quell the temptation entirely. As the years progressed, my indecision turned to indifference. If life was the same as death, I might as well continue in my current state. At one point, my beacon was my stories. If I died, they did too, and I cared more about them than my own well-being. That light is fading too.

These days, I believe I have a purpose for being here. Even though it may be impossible to see, impossible to hold, it is the only solace I have, the only promise worth pursuing. And though I may never know that purpose, never feel like I’ve attained it, always struggle with meaning, I have to convince myself it still exists. It exhorts me, shapes my surroundings. I have to believe in this miracle because only a miracle can save me: not a miracle of the divine exploding into my life and altering it supernaturally but the miracle of finding the divine in the minute moments of another day.

My grasp on this belief is not always steady. It slips, and sometimes I purposefully discard it, but it has not yet forsaken me. I wish I could tell you it is easy. I wish I could tell you I no longer long to die. What I can tell you is this:

I have wanted to die for seventeen years.

I am still here.

So are you.

 

 

The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.

6 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Wow, Kyric! That was painfully honest. It makes me sad to read your heart’s despair & discouragement. You DO MATTER or God would not have put you here on planet earth. You have two parents and five siblings and a niece, grandparents, cousins, uncles & aunts & others who would mourn you just because you are you & there is no other. Your manager was WRONG–you are irreplaceable to God and us! The lies of Satan are so insidious. They creep in at all times & I hear you fighting them. Keep up the fight. You are important to us and this just makes me cry and pray for you & many like you. Mom

    Reply
  2. Avatar

    Thank you, Kyric for openly and honestly sharing your ongoing struggles. You have so eloquently articulated what a number of us “average” believers feel about our place and purpose in this world. (I’m not saying that you’re average, just that you’re not alone in feeling as just one in a crowd.). I’m very glad that you have decided to continue on. I have also. I also feel very blessed to know you and want you to know that if you left this world you would leave s huge hole in a lot of people’s lives.

    Reply
  3. Avatar

    Hi, Kyric. We don’t know each other. In fact, I’ve never been to Calvin, I once spent 2 weeks total in Michigan (nice state. Who knew you had beaches?), and I live hundreds of miles warmer than you. I stumbled on the blog; I liked the writing and the writers; I wander back in fairly often.

    I have shared your journey in the darkness, and it doesn’t make me feel frightened or taken aback. Actually, I’m really impressed by your courage. Shame and isolation are silencing; speaking with that level of honesty and forthrightness into such pain is incredibly bold.

    It is also true that although dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts is fairly common, it has never been more common than it is now. Our society is reeling, and those of us who have gentler souls are bearing the brunt of it in some really heavy ways.

    Not to play some weird one-upmanship, but just so you know I have the life experience to know what I’m talking about: I already struggled with depression in broad bouts through a lot of my childhood and youth. My first struggle with severe depression began when I was only 8. As a young adult, I really felt like I had done a lot of the hard work for healing. I got married, went to grad school, got ordained.

    Then my life went crazy. I lost my job. I had an unexpected, super rare health issue where I experienced complete organ failure 4 hours after the birth of my first child when I was 29. My health crisis exposed massive, potentially fatal flaws in my marriage. I had PTSD from medical trauma. I already had a tendency toward depression.

    This story does not then go “but I thought about how grateful I am every single day and never took anything for granted ever again.” Instead, it goes: I thought I had permanently lost my soul. I wasn’t sure why my body was still alive if I couldn’t feel anything. I was concerned that although I was a minister, I was about to lose my marriage and my faith (and the only career I had professional training for), and I couldn’t even seem to drum up the energy to even care. I was struggling to care for and bond with the newborn child I had already dealt with years of infertility to have, and now I had no emotions.

    Like I said–this isn’t a contest of suffering, or the whole world would have to vote on the one most miserable person on the planet each morning so that person got to enjoy feeling miserable. There’s plenty of sorrow to go around, unfortunately. But it is to say, I’m not speaking out of a void or from a beautiful ivory tower of theory. I have been in ugly places, and they don’t scare me anymore.

    I really resonated with your piece. Sometimes you know you’re not going to kill yourself even though things are that dark. But what I was so glad I was finally given was this: that same courage that you posted with. It started with saying I wasn’t okay. It took me to a therapist (not a great one), and another one (doing better), and then an excellent psychologist that was the right fit for me (why have garden variety problems when you can excel, huh?).

    I tried different kinds of counseling. EMDR for trauma. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for depression. I learned to give myself grace. My new way of seeing it was that if I was going to survive at all (because suicide or not, depression is really rough on your body), I was going to have to heal some or die trying.

    I worked on sleep. I tried to make sure that even if my diet was apathetic that it had some kind of fruit and veg. I found out I had a vitamin D deficiency, which certainly wasn’t helping me. A friend dragged me to the gym. (Blech. But good.)

    I sometimes journaled, although you should know that when you start to face the demons it gets harder, but braver feeling. It was like my heart began to thaw in fits and starts, which made it hurt so much more than when it was frozen. Sometimes, for the first time in my life, I actually couldn’t write.

    I learned about genetic predispositions to depression. And guess what? My crumbling marriage? My husband realized that he was dealing with severe depression and began taking and antidepressant. That is no miracle cure, not for a person or a marriage, but it is crazy how much it helped and how needlessly he suffered for years without it. It gave him the extra bandwidth he needed to pursue his own counseling eventually.

    I had to start listening to my own self-talk and paying attention to whether it was true or not. I still struggle to listen to how many “shoulds” I apply to myself and my life, how I can use them like a weapon against myself and others. A lot of the things I believed and acted on were completely illogical. Depression had written the script, and I just kept mumbling the lines until I really started paying attention to it.

    I quit BS-ing my faith life. I stepped down from everything I could and honestly said it was for mental health reasons. My single prayer that I could pray honestly was “Lord, have mercy…” So I quit pretending I had other prayers. That was the only prayer I prayed.

    I saw Jesus’ suffering. I didn’t flinch away from associating myself with the cross, and I found solace in images from the Bible that I could just feel. A shepherd carrying a wounded lamb. Sweat like drops of blood. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabbachthani?” Being battered on the side of the road and hoping that someone was coming. And also, eventually, a quiet pasture. And restoring the years the locusts had eaten. And Jerusalem restored after her hard time had been accounted for.

    I told my story. With some people, the relationship just fizzled after that. But with others, it became real—Velveteen Rabbit kind of real. Sometimes, I feel like now I can see it in the eyes of others who have been in the dark but not stayed there, a realness, a deep seeing that we share.

    And I learned about the incredible people of faith who have struggled with depression and other mental health issues—Mother Theresa. Martin Luther. Saint Francis. John Calvin, too. You pick a tradition, and I’ll show you one formed by struggling, overwhelmed people who prayed for the strength to wake up in the morning.

    My new favorite phrase then? “Prepare to be underwhelmed.” I couldn’t cook well anymore. My house was a mess, and I was perpetually late. Sadly, those things are a lot of what people judge married women on, and I was failing all of them. And that was okay. I was trying to slay a dragon who had his talons around my neck. If I didn’t die that day, and if at any point I was capable of challenging the hold, then I had won that one.
    Every. Single. Day.

    Kyric, as much as it now comes as a surprise to me, my life was not ultimately defined by the darkness. I thought that it was permanent—that I was owned. That was the lie that depression told me. And depression is complex and hard to understand—but it does not have to be the one in charge. Don’t expect to arm wrestle it into submission or it will beat you down. You probably already know that. But what it doesn’t want you to know is that there really is hope to, bloody step by bloody step, pursue healing.

    It’s embarrassing and messy. It’s rife with failure and missteps. It’s costly. And it is beautiful, freeing, fierce, and empowering. I am braver and more alive than I would have been without my darkness. I am wiser and kinder, and I am also stronger, bolder, and more straightforward. I can stare down some pretty wild things now without batting an eye. Depression alone doesn’t do that. But slowly becoming honest enough to start digging out does.

    I’m 35 now. It’s been about 7 years. The darkness is not gone. But I know again what it is like to look around and genuinely, for brief moments, feel nothing but over-brimming delight and gratitude, and I honestly didn’t know that would be possible ever again.

    I hope that you can join me in this journey toward darkness and light together—along with our fellow sojourners. There are lots of us out here. I pray you’ll have just enough strength for the next step when it is time.

    I realize that was stupid long. Sorry about that. But your life—our lives—are so very worth it. I couldn’t let your post pass without saying so.

    Reply
    • Kyric Koning

      Alyse, thank you for taking the time to read and comment, and double thanks for sharing your own story and encouragement. This is something I love about writing–how it can cross any distance and capture a heart and thought. I am sorry you had to experience what you did, but I am also so grateful. The people who have walked the path before can help light the way. Your story has been a light for me, one I expect I will turn to many times over the years. While I don’t think I’m quite where you’re at now (learning to give myself grace will be a tough one among others), hope exists for a reason. Reminders like this are so necessary. As a fellow traveller of darker roads, I will also keep you in my mind, heart, and prayers. May you also find your purpose and joy in another day.

      Oh, one more thing. No tale told from the heart is too long.

      God bless.

      Reply
  4. Avatar

    I recently read “The Moviegoer,” by Walker Percy. Like your piece, it explored despondency in ways that felt uncomfortably honest, and because of that, important and worth reading. One of quotes from that book that I keep thinking about:

    “…they’re all wrong about that. They all think any minute I’m going to commit suicide. What a joke. The truth of course is the exact opposite: suicide is the only thing that keeps me alive. Whenever everything else fails, all I have to do is consider suicide and in two seconds I’m as cheerful as a nitwit. But if I could not kill myself—ah then, I would. I can do without nembutal or murder mysteries but not without suicide.”

    Reply
    • Kyric Koning

      Oof, that’s really depressing. I do strive to be honest–doesn’t always work, but I try. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Reply

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