I've made no bones about 2 things in life: A) That I've unsuccessfully attempted suicide before and B) that I know The Flaming Lips. And Lord knows, everybody on Earth knows I'm a junkie/alcoholic. Some people also know that I'm going to school to become a therapist. This puts me in a precarious position sometimes.
Hundreds of thousands of people admire The Flaming Lips for bringing such positivity to the universe. Such messages of love and encouragement, laced with superb music backing up the souls of a bunch of guys who really are the salt of the fucking Earth. They're genuinely good people. I love them because of WHO they are, not what they represent, though I love that too.
Fans of the band have befriended me on Facebook, knowing that I know the band, and sometimes use me as an intermediary between them and the Lips. I don't generally mind, unless it's annoying random fans asking me for backstage passes or whatnot. I refuse to suck up to my friends on behalf of superfans, and that's just the honest truth.
Occasionally, I'll get an email or a wall post from a fan who's in trouble with his/her personal life. These fans I pay attention to. I refuse to ignore them. By sheer coincidence, I had 2 such fans reach out to me today. I worked all day, so I hadn't had a chance to check messages until after I got home, shredded from a busy day and sort of still filled with enough of my own crap, but I feel I owe it to these people to try and help out if I can. I'm no licensed shrink, but I do remember what worked for me. I had to get clean and sober first, and stop fucking cutting, to GET IT. I'll be in therapy for life, methinks, and so fine.
One of the teenage boys who emailed me today is a new fan of the band, having heard about them through one of my really close friends. He watched their simulcast internet show a few weeks ago and his life changed. It brought him out of a deep depression. I told Steven about it and he was really happy to hear that. What Steven doesn't know is the tremendous sense of responsibility I feel towards these troubled individuals who seek my help when they're at the brink of ending it all.
It's hard enough to manage your own psychoses sometimes to be able to mend others' lives. But people seem to think that's part of what will make me a successful therapist....that I've walked these roads before and I have practical experience and survived (God knows why).
So this is what I wrote to the first suicidal kid tonight. Tell me if you think it was an appropriate response:
Saw your post on my Facebook wall. Just got home from work so haven't had a chance to respond until now. Facebook is supposed to be a place where you connect with people--either friends, family or like-minded strangers who enter your life randomly. To you, I'm one of the last category. I'm sorry you logged on and felt such a disconnect instead of Facebook being a positive place where you can go to love and be loved.
K tells me wonderful things about you. She says that you're very artistic and intelligent, and that you're funny and compassionate and a joy to be around. She admires you very much. I admittedly don't know much about your past, though K has told me you've been at the brink of suicide on multiple occasions.
She said that you watched the Flaming Lips concert on the internet, and you instantly felt much better. Their music is like that. They bring such a positive message of encouragement and positivity into the world, and they've saved me from many a foul mood. I also know them as people, and they honestly love their fans with all their hearts.
I can tell you, after 2 failed suicide attempts, that it ain't worth a quarter of the shit it takes to fucking off yourself. I haven't attempted suicide since I got sober in 2008, but I can tell you I've been in that desperation and felt that isolation that you describe. It feels like you're broadcasting to the whole world and nobody's listening. You just want to shout out "LISTEN TO ME MOTHERFUCKERS!" and sometimes the universe doesn't cooperate. Which sucks royally.
But I assure you, someone is ALWAYS listening. You're meant to be on this earth for a reason, even if you don't know fully yet what it is. We all go through horrible times and awful shit happening to us, and sometimes it's too much to bear alone. I know that. That's when you reach into art, or music, or friends, or whatever it is that DOES bring you joy.
I throw myself into music and writing when I'm depressed. That always works for me positively. I also know when I can't take it anymore and I reach out to friends.
I use to cut myself. A lot. With a steak knife, deep into my right forearm. It hurt so badly that I had moments where I could forget the pain in my head because the wounds I'd self-inflicted were way more painful. It was a HORRIBLY UNHEALTHY coping mechanism, which worked. No matter what was bothering me, I'd be right there with a knife jabbing into myself. And I had a kid at home to raise who saw my scars and saw me bandaged up and I didn't think twice or give him any consideration as to how seeing that would affect him. It worked for me and I was too selfish to care about anybody else.
I stopped cutting 2 years ago, and thankfully, my scars all healed and you can't tell anymore that I used to cut that arm.
Of course, I've been medicated for my mental illness for a couple years, and I remain sober. I'm a big believer in fucked up brain chemistry and the need for psychiatric drugs, even if you poo poo them. I don't know how you feel about them, but as a fucked up drunk junkie who cleaned up, I can tell you they worked wonders for me.
It's hard to press forward when you don't know in what direction you're facing in the first place. But the answer's not to internalize that pain and take it out on yourself. You're worth a lot more than that, to a lot of people, I'm sure. It's when you think you've totally had enough of this life that you have to grasp what little is left and cling to that for dear fucking life.
I promise you that when you awaken the next morning and you're still alive, that it'll be worth it. One day at a time, brother. Just survive one more day. I promise you it gets better. Trust this from someone who's walked your path and survived. We all want to leave a legacy behind...better it be one of meaning, spirit and positivity rather than the mark of someone who fucking gave up.
You can contact me at any time. I will always listen.
Until then, keep hanging on and I'll keep you in my prayers.