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REASONS TO STAY ALIVE

 

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Posted by on June 25, 2013 at 16:44

When I was 24 I very nearly killed myself. I was living in Ibiza at the time, in a very nice villa, on the quiet east coast of the island. The villa was right next to a cliff. In the midst of depression I walked out to the edge of the cliff and looked at the sea, and at the rugged limestone coastline, dotted with deserted beaches. It was the most beautiful view I had ever known, but I didn’t care. I was too busy trying to summon the courage needed to throw myself over the edge. I didn’t. Instead, I walked back inside and threw up from the stress of it.

Three more years of depression followed. Panic, despair, a daily battle to walk to the corner shop without collapsing to the ground.

But I survived. I am days away from being 38. Back then, I almost knew I wasn’t going to make it to 30. Death or total madness seemed more realistic.

But I’m here. Surrounded by people I love. And I am doing a job I never thought I’d be doing. And I spend my days writing stories, that are really guide books, the way all books are guide books.

I am so glad I didn’t kill myself, but I continue to wonder if there is anything to say to people at those darkest times.

Here’s an attempt. Here are things I wish someone had told me at the time:

 

Blog

Posted by on June 25, 2013 at 16:44

When I was 24 I very nearly killed myself. I was living in Ibiza at the time, in a very nice villa, on the quiet east coast of the island. The villa was right next to a cliff. In the midst of depression I walked out to the edge of the cliff and looked at the sea, and at the rugged limestone coastline, dotted with deserted beaches. It was the most beautiful view I had ever known, but I didn’t care. I was too busy trying to summon the courage needed to throw myself over the edge. I didn’t. Instead, I walked back inside and threw up from the stress of it.

Three more years of depression followed. Panic, despair, a daily battle to walk to the corner shop without collapsing to the ground.

But I survived. I am days away from being 38. Back then, I almost knew I wasn’t going to make it to 30. Death or total madness seemed more realistic.

But I’m here. Surrounded by people I love. And I am doing a job I never thought I’d be doing. And I spend my days writing stories, that are really guide books, the way all books are guide books.

I am so glad I didn’t kill myself, but I continue to wonder if there is anything to say to people at those darkest times.

Here’s an attempt. Here are things I wish someone had told me at the time:

 

1. You are on another planet. No-one understands what you are going through. But actually, they do. You don’t think they do because the only reference point is yourself. You have never felt this way before, and the shock of the descent is traumatising you, but others have been here. You are in a dark, dark land with a population of millions.

2. Things aren’t going to get worse. You want to kill yourself. That is as low as it gets. There is only upwards from here.

3. You hate yourself. That is because you are sensitive. Pretty much every human could find a reason to hate themselves if they thought about it as much as you did. We’re all total bastards, us humans, but also totally wonderful.

4. So what, you have a label? ‘Depressive’. Everyone would have a label if they asked the right professional.

5. That feeling you have, that everything is going to get worse, that is just a symptom.

6. Minds have their own weather systems. You are in a hurricane. Hurricanes run out of energy eventually. Hold on.

7. Ignore stigma. Every illness had stigma once. Stigma is what happens when ignorance meets realities that need an open mind.

8. Nothing lasts forever. This pain won’t last. The pain tells you it will last. Pain lies. Ignore it.

9. Or, to plagiarise myself: ”Your mind is a galaxy. More dark than light. But the light makes it worthwhile. Which is to say, don’t kill yourself. Even when the darkness is total. Always know that life is not still. Time is space. You are moving through that galaxy. Wait for the stars.” (The Humans)

10. You will one day experience joy that matches this pain. You will cry euphoric tears at the Beach Boys, you will stare down at your baby daughter’s face as she lies contentedly asleep in your lap, you will make great friends, you will eat delicious foods you haven’t tried yet, you will be able to look at a view like this one and feel the beauty, there are books you haven’t read yet that will enrich you, films you will watch while eating extra large buckets of popcorn, and you will dance and laugh and have sex and go for runs by the river and have late night conversations and laugh until it hurts. Life is waiting for you. You might be stuck here for a while, but the world isn’t going anywhere. Hang on in there if you can. Life is always worth it.

 

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12 Comments

  1. Thank you! I don’t care what anyone else says – I think it takes a fair amount of courage to write a piece such as this when you are so well known to the public.
    I’m very glad that you chose to live and hope that your words bring some hope to those who are still in their dark land.

  2. Beautiful sentiments. I wish I knew in those days, I wasn’t finished growing yet – mentally or physically. My spiritual journey was no where close to over.

    When I went deaf eight years ago, I honestly thought deaf was synonymous with death. Little could I know, this place I’m at now is the most alive I’ve ever felt or that I would even arrive here.

    We don’t know these things when we enter the depth of darkness we do. If only we could keep a candle of hope lit to guide us back. (Hugs)Indigo

  3. It is the hardest thing to realise when you have reached that point are at that moment. That it is only the briefest and lowest point in what has the potential to be a long and wonderful life. This and your message specifically, is what should be taken into schools and colleges. The younger ones who don’t have the life experiences to call on find it hardest to see beyond the moment. Much Love and bosies (hugs) to you Matt

    • Absolutely! It’s perfect for schools and I think the 1-10 list would make an excellent flyer/poster for schools too.

  4. I’m going to keep #9 stashed away in my phone or on a Post-It by my desk or something, so I can see it whenever I forget. Thank you, Matt.

  5. Beautifully written, refreshingly honest.

  6. Keep telling people so they have hope. It is the worst when you cannot see the way towards that dirty word, hope.
    It doesn’t last forever, but it doesn’t get better neatly. It will be nice;shit;nice;shit;aaarrrrrrgh;yeah ok;shit;nice.
    It is ok to get better badly.
    Thanks for starting the debate. Hugs too.

  7. My son killed himself,when he was 23, 2 years ago. I wish someone could have shared such wisdom with him but no one knew he was depressed as he didn’t tell anyone. Thank you and I hope your words can reach out to anyone going through dark times and imprint the message, this too shall pass

  8. Thank you.

    The past 2 years for me have been the worst Iv had and I had a similar incident last summer.

    While I’m better in many ways I do still battle the voice that tells me I’m unlucky and attract bad results and things will always get worse…I am dealing with this because who am I to say I know the future??? When you see what can happen in 1 second, you are mad to predict the next few years.

    Iv found so much comfort in accepting that the world owes me nothing, no matter what I do. I can try as hard as I can as what I do, I cant drive myself crazy over it because Incant control fate. Accepting you don’t have that level of control is so relieving. Give your self a break people! You are all doing great.

    past is gone, future is not necessary. Treat like like its nothing like a series of moments. The moments of now. Let everything else go.

    may I also recommend Christine Breese on Youtube? She saved me.

    thank you so much for this!

  9. WOW just a very big WOW. You express this your feelings so well. Sadly only those who have suffered depression understand what you are staying. Sadly in the depth of depression you don’t “hear” the world. Sadly in the depths of depression you hibernate and being with people is just to painful.
    Matt so pleased you turned away from the cliff edge and can write this now. I am now 60 and wish I had the courage to write about my feelings when I felt so very very low. I somehow found the courage to walk away from my cliff, and if is many many years (decades) since I felt that way.
    Keep writing you are an inspiration.

  10. In some ways you are lucky that it was a slow burn that pushed you to jump off a cliff, my suicidal periods were intense flash fires inside of me.
    The fires didn’t last incredibly long, but the energy inside of them pushing me to swallow the pills, drag the knife down my wrists or wrap the cord around my throat was overwhelmingly intense.
    I think it is a positive thing that you had to try to pluck up the courage to jump to leave this world as I had to try to pluck up the courage to stand still and stay here. You were trying to push yourself over the edge, whereas I was trying to pull myself away from the edge.
    Dying is easy, it’s life that’s hard and the edge is a dangerous place to be.
    So, we have both faced our death and we have both survived. That’s good. Now the pain has subsided and my heart has mended I feel things deeper, I understand feelings better and not only can I hear the music, but I understand the emotions of the song.

     

    http://www.matthaig.com/life/