May 9, 2017 by Sera
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write about this but realised I need to. I’m still struggling, still trying to come to terms with the news I received last Friday. News that shattered my world, news I had felt coming deep down but wanted to believe would not come.
On the 2nd of May my friend killed himself. I found out on the 5th through a post one of his friends had made on Facebook.
When I say I felt that these news were coming I don’t mean I knew he was going to kill himself but after that Tuesday I had this bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I had only known him for 6 months but we had connected on such a fundamental level that I felt like we had known each other much longer. So I worried when he suddenly did not come online and his phone was turned off. I spent all week checking news of the area he lived in and, probably because I just knew, obituaries.
It is horrible to say this now but I was worried so sick that I just needed to know, even if that meant getting the worst news imaginable.
I checked Facebook pages of the friends he had mentioned to me every day, still hoping somehow that I would find good news.
Then on Friday after work I finally found the truth I had feared.
Nobody mentioned suicide but I just knew it could be nothing else. He had been having a difficult few months after getting arrested, for something as ridiculous (in my opinion) as downloading films and music. They took his phone, computers, anything that could contain downloads and told him he had to report to the police again 3 months later.
3 months later was the 2nd of May…
When I saw that awful confirmation on Facebook I thought he must have gotten bad news, that they had found something they could charge and send him to prison with.
His girlfriend told me over the weekend that he took his life before even going to the police…
He must have been so sure that he would lose his freedom, lose control of his life, that he had made the biggest mistake of his life, that he saw no way out, no sense in living anymore.
I knew he must have been struggling over the past months. Early on, in the weeks after his arrest, he would talk to me about that day at the police station, about his fears of what they might find that he might not even be aware of. He was paranoid that someone had broken into his flat and planted something on his laptop. I did not tell him that he was crazy, I took him seriously and told him to get his building’s CCTV videos to check. I told him that whatever would happen I would stand by him and support him. I told him that I was here if he wanted to talk and that I was sure everything would turn out OK.
I did what I could when he talked to me and worried when he wouldn’t. He had days and weeks where I would check in with him and he ignored me but then we would talk again, on the phone or Skype and he seemed to be back to normal. Of course I was hoping that was true but I knew that this situation must have had a profound impact on him.
What I didn’t know but might have suspected deep down perhaps, was that he had more issues. I learned that he had self esteem issues, despite the fact that he seemed to be the most confident person I’ve ever met. He never felt good enough even though everybody who knew him thought he was the most amazing person. He was a talented artist, could draw amazingly, had a real talent for martial art and even developed his own style. He could read people so well that he told me things about myself that I had never even admitted to anyone, just from looking at my face. He helped others, only wanted their happiness but never took anyone’s help for himself. I know how he always wanted to see me smile. We shared the same weird sense of humour so we’d send each other silly pictures or memes to make each other laugh.
I now know that the hint of sadness I saw in his eyes wasn’t just a figment of my imagination but real. Of course I suspected that he might go into a depression after his arrest, the possibility of losing his freedom, of having to tell his mum, of the police’s findings becoming public and his friends and family turning their backs on him, it must have been torture.
I always told him that all his friends and family would stand by him because I was sure they, we all, would, even though I did not know them. He just inspired loyalty and was such a good person that I could never imagine anyone turning their backs.
Despite all that I said, all his girlfriend and I’m sure so many others also told him, he could not believe it.
In the end he shut me out. The last month of his life he ignored me completely, did not even read my texts anymore. I imagine he had made his decision then and did not want anyone to change that. And maybe he somehow tried to spare me the pain. I kept trying to contact him though, despite being hurt by his actions. I just cared deeply and I knew he was going through a hard time.
I do wonder if I could’ve done more, should have been more persistent but nobody could make him talk. I know that now and in my heart I know that I did what I could under the circumstances. Not living close enough to just pop over for a chat and a cup of tea, I don’t know what more I could have done.
His girlfriend said pushing him to talk would just make him angry. I remember that too well from my own depression. I wanted someone to talk to, someone to just hug me and tell me everything would be OK but the moment anyone tried to give me what I wanted deep down I would get angry, snap at them and shut down.
I was exactly like him, putting on a brave and happy face for the world and suffering on the inside. I kept my real feelings bottled up, you would’ve never seen me cry then, I had my outward emotions in check like a champ.
Today I know that this does not work and letting it out is the only way to fight this horrible disease. I started writing this blog to get my thoughts and feelings out of my head and he had started a diary to do the same. When he told me about it I was desperately hoping that it would help him get clarity and get through this more or less unscathed. Sadly it didn’t or maybe the clarity he got was just that he could not live this life anymore.
I have sometimes, during the darkest, so incredibly painful days, wished that my miserable existence would just end, so I can relate and I understand better than he might have realised I did. But I got lucky. I finally accepted help and found joy in life again and he was a part of that joy, even if only for a short time…way too short.
I wish he had been able to do the same. I wish he had understood that being strong sometimes means being weak too because we’re all human. We all have feelings and there is nothing wrong with showing those, talking about them and getting help. We all struggle sometimes and some of us struggle constantly. Nobody is truly alone in their struggles, there are always others who are going through the same thing or those who can and want to help.
He had so many people who would’ve rushed to his side if he had only said a word, only given a hint that he could not cope alone. He had people who offered help and understanding but in his mind he had to go through this alone because men have to be strong and not show emotions. They cannot talk about how they feel or ask for help because that is not masculine. And I say “Fuck that!” (excuse the language), men are human too and they can struggle with how they feel, be sad, lonely, depressed, have OCD, anxiety. They should be able to talk about these things without having to think they aren’t real men. Things need to change! Society needs to change! Men need to understand and boys need to be raised with the knowledge that it’s OK to not be fine all the time, to be weak sometimes, to need help and that asking for it does not mean they are worth any less.
It is too late for my friend; my stubborn, funny, kind, loving, caring, always in control, tortured friend. Hopefully it is not too late for others.
Ask for help, you never know what happens, people might surprise you. I reached out the moment I got the news because I know I’m in danger of sinking into depression again if I try to go through this loss, the grief, the sadness, the guilt, alone. And you know what, I not only found support from my family and friends but even work colleagues and a high-up manager have offered their support, an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on.
Losing my friend, missing him so much that my heart seems to physically ache, still wanting to laugh with him and tell him about my day and getting through this difficult time will not be easy but talking about it and asking for help will make sure I will get through this somehow, some time.