The Renegade Press

Tales from the mouth of a wolf

Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

  • J.K. Rowling

August 28th, 2016.

Remember the date. Because it’s important, and I’m going to come back to it a few paragraphs from now.

In 2015, I lost a friend to suicide. In 2016, I lost another. The passing of my friends devastated me. To lose a loved one is always a sobering experience. To lose them prematurely because of mental illness is earth-shattering. I have always believed that a family is defined by much more than biology. I consider my friends to be a band of brothers that I love so dearly that I am willing to sacrifice anything to protect them. The knowledge that two of those brothers could be so affected by mental illness that suicide became their only hope of salvation breaks my heart.

I know what it’s like to feel low. I spent years feeling angry, confused, scared and alone. And for the longest of times I never believed that I could feel any other way. I used writing to express myself, and created this website as a means of trying to work my way through the endless fog inside my head. And yet despite spending years writing endlessly about my periods of self-loathing and misery, I never actually hit rock bottom. I came close. But the people I cared about had always given me hope; they were my reason to carry on, even when I felt like giving up.

And then on August 28th, 2016, my life fractured. I lost the girl that I believed I was destined to grow old with. In doing so, I lost my happiness, and the desire to be Chris Nicholas anymore. On that day, I hit rock bottom so fucking hard that I didn’t want to write, or eat, or be anything. And then fate kicked me while I was down, taking away the certainty of printing my sophomore novel with the publisher who had produced my debut piece.

Until that day, I had envisioned a life where I would marry my partner and create a living from writing books. When I was down, or angry, the knowledge that I had a woman who loved me and a future brighter than I deserved spurred me on. Her love brought a smile to my face when the demons in my head were trying to eat my alive. So, when she left, and my battered body collided with the unbreakable surface that is rock bottom; all I could do was lay in a damaged heap and cry.

As I cried, my parents asked me if I was going to be OK. When I told them that I didn’t know, they asked me something that made the hurt I was experiencing feel so much worse. My mother and my father looked me in the eye and asked:

You’re not going to hurt yourself, are you?”

In the darkest moments of my life my parents were so concerned for my wellbeing that they were worried that I would try to harm myself, or that I would take my own life. My mental state was so fractured that they were frightened that after years of moving through cyclical battles with depression, I was going to give up.  I told them that I wouldn’t. Until that point in my life I had been petrified of death, and even though I had been down, I didn’t ever want to lose myself. But what I didn’t tell them was that in the months after my partner left me, the thought of no longer existing had crossed my mind.

Agh, shit. I’m getting all teary. This isn’t the easiest thing to talk about. So, let’s take a brief interlude for a moment. I want to clarify a few things. I don’t want your pity. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me, or to be concerned for my state of mind. August 28th, 2016 is the most important date in the history of who I am not only because it’s the day that I hit rock bottom; but also, because it’s the day that I stopped running from my demons and began learning how to overcome them. In the months that have passed since, I have used my heartbreak and devastation to build the solid foundations of a happy life. It hasn’t been easy. I have had to confront my shortcomings, and learn to love my flaws. But in doing so, I am beginning to become the man that I should have always been.

This post isn’t about me. It’s about you. And the people you care about. It’s about talking openly about suicide and mental illness, and starting a conversation by saying:

My name is Chris Nicholas, and know what it feels like to lose someone that I love to suicide. And I know what it is like to feel so worthless that the idea of no longer existing becomes a viable means of coping with pain.”

Maybe in doing so, I can encourage someone else who is going through what I did, and what my friends did, to reach out and ask for help. Maybe by sharing my lowest moments with you, I can encourage you to lend your heart and mind to someone who is trying their hardest to fight their way through the hells of a life plagued by depression, anxiety, or whatever else, giving them a reason to live when all hope is lost.

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The World Health Organisation estimates that 45% of the global population will experience mental illness of some form in their lifetime. Of those that are diagnosed with a mental disorder, a staggering two thirds will never seek professional help. When you factor in the percentage of sufferers that remain undiagnosed, and that 90% of people who take their lives experience mental illness; and that suicide ranks within the top twenty causes of death on a global scale, the need for a societal change to how we perceive suicide and mental illness becomes apparent.

The bullshit inference society has created that says that mental illness, anxiety or depression shows a weakness of character is wrong. You are not weak for feeling down. You are not alone for feeling fractured. There is no shame, stigma, or dishonour in admitting that you need help. Mental illness is a fault in your psychological makeup caused by a chemical imbalance inside of your brain that you are in no way accountable for.

Take it from someone who has stood on the precipice between life and death and found the strength to survive: it is alright to not be OK. It is alright to feel unwell; or to be angry, or scared at times. That doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human. What isn’t alright, is for our society to continue to lose so many lives to self-harm because we’re simply not doing enough to help those in need.

When I hit rock bottom I found a peace in myself that I never thought existed. Sure, falling from grace hurt. I lost someone who I had believed would love me for the rest of my life, and in doing so I lost myself. But I talked to my loved ones, and they listened with endless patience as I cried myself through the hurt and attempted to find who I was once again. Had I not have known what it was like to lose people that I love to suicide, I may never have found the courage to confide in them, and to get out of bed and face each new day.

Through conversation, my friends and family saved me. And I guarantee that if you ever find yourself feeling as low, and as worthless as I did, your loved ones will do anything in their power to help you through too. All you need to do is cast aside the stigma of mental illness and ask for help; or to offer your heart to someone you know who is going through difficult times. Once you start a conversation and remove the perception of weakness and fear that surrounds mental illness, you can find hope, compassion and love within your peers.

When I began to talk, I realised that the people around me weren’t afraid of holding a conversation about my depression. I had just been so angry for so long that they didn’t know how to approach the subject without pushing me further away.  They had been waiting for years for me to open up and tell them why I felt the way that I did. And, maybe if I had of confided in them earlier, I wouldn’t have lost as much as I did. Maybe I wouldn’t have had to hit rock bottom and start over again.

I used to be a boy who suffered from depression. I called myself a world eater and a wolf as a means of inspiring the strength within myself that I needed to keep fighting when I felt like I was falling apart. Since August 28th, 2016, I have become a man who calls himself a world eater because by doing so I can inspire strength within others when they feel as worthless as I once did. I don’t feel down anymore. I don’t feel angry. And I have just two regrets in my life. The first is that I didn’t speak out about how low I felt sooner. And the second… Well, I think that goes without saying.

To anyone who is struggling through anxiety or depression right now I would say this: It is alright to not be OK. And you are not alone for feeling broken. You’re with me; and millions of other individuals who make up the estimated 45% of people who experience mental illness in their lifetime. If you ever find yourself standing on the precipice between life and death, searching desperately for a reason to continue to live; I want you to reach out and take the hand of someone that you care about. Do what I did: cry. Cry your fucking lungs out. And when you have no tears left, talk. Let your loved ones help you find yourself once again.

If you’re not ready to talk to the people that you love; then use this page. Talk to me, or the other people who will read this post. Share yourself, and find solace in the knowledge that no matter how low you may feel, you are never alone.

Authors note: On November 17th, 2015, my friend Jason lost his battle with depression and took his own life. Since his passing, his brother Ben has been working tirelessly to raise awareness for anxiety, depression, and suicide prevention. In June of this year, Ben will be riding his bike around Australia, covering more than eighteen thousand kilometres as he attempts to encourage others to talk openly about mental health and suicide. Ben’s courage in the face of adversity and heartbreak has been a huge inspiration to me, my friends, and family. If you would like to follow Ben’s journey, or offer your support: you can find more information here at www.rideforjase.org

 

86 thoughts on “Eunoia

  1. And remember that your loved ones may not be your family of origin, and that’s Ok, too. Find people who know how to listen, as well as share their similar circumstances. Just pull into the parking lot, then walk in the door, or into the meeting room. You can find family there, as well.

  2. Reblogged this on Nesie's Place and commented:
    Excellent post! Read and share! We never know what others are going through until it’s too late. Remember to stop by Chris’ spot!

    1. nissenson says:

      My dad (a clinical psychologist) used to say that depression was anger we turned against ourselves. People need the message that it’s ok to be furious, too. We treat anger almost as taboo as we do sadness. A friend who was severely depressed (he had lost a child) saw the great Erich Fromm. Fromm told him to gather 100 glass Coke bottles and go somewhere he could safely smash them, one at a time. When he first began he thought it was the stupidest thing he’d ever heard. About 20 bottles in he was throwing them violently, one after another, until he realized there were no more to throw. All his sadness was still there, but he felt a layer of his depression lift. I would say to friends and family you must support their rage, too, so long as they don’t hurt themselves or others.

  3. Thats what I needed right now…. Thank you so much @chris

  4. Raney Simmon says:

    I understand. It’s a horrible thing to go through, but as long as you keep those you love close, there’s nothing you can’t survive.

  5. Sometimes, nobody understands what you’re going through, and that, is when you feel most alone in the world, like NOBODY would care if you had died or not, but, YOU should, because, you are the only one who will always be there, for yourself, don’t EVER forget that, and, NO matter how had it gets, so long as you can look forward to the future, there will always be, hope…

  6. crystarlia says:

    Reblogged this on DraconicDistractions and commented:
    This is such a beautiful and heart-breaking post and it’s hard to admit that I understand that darkness – that it lives in me and has lived there for more than half of my life. It’s wonderful to read a post by someone who’s seen both sides of the coin.

  7. Lucia Maya says:

    Beautifully written, thank you. I’m sharing this on FB as I think it’s something that needs to be spread widely, especially as our health care barely covers mental illness, and may soon cover even less!

  8. Ratika Deshpande says:

    I don’t think I’m a expert at it, but if anyone needs someone to talk to, I’m here. Thank you for sharing your struggle with everyone, Chris. You’re helping so many people just by writing about it. 🙂

  9. daodeqi says:

    Fuck Dude, your shit is tight!…(enter American smiley face that I don’t know how to put in yet)
    But seriously, there is probably a lot of pressure and social networking nonsense that compels people to follow and like all the people that followed and liked them; then continue learning all the social blogging expectations to fit into the blogosphere.
    Plus, I’m sure you know that your messages are strong, your writing is on point, and you have a natural talent that can not be denied. I also have a personal bias, in that your messages really matter to me, so I’m likely to be more compelled to like your work.
    It is for more than all of those reasons that I’m pushing my like button hard enough to break my mouse.
    You have a flow and a progression to your voice that just sucks me in. I’m still very new, but yours is the only blog I want to read for literary reasons. I don’t say all this to flatter you and expect nothing in return. My only hope is that if you ever doubt yourself as a writer, you can look at these words and see the truth in yourself.
    You got that something special kid.

  10. Incredible writing and a powerful story. I had lost a good friend to suicide when we were merely 18 years old. His entire life still ahead of him. I wish I could tell him then that it will be okay, he will be okay, to just sleep on it. But depression doesn’t work that way, I should know. Thank you for sharing as I know there are readers who needs to hear this.

  11. Thank you SO much for this! I am that person you’re talking to with this amazing piece. Please do me the honour of checking out my blog. From the recent non-fiction entries you’ll see what I mean. I would greatly appreciate your thoughts.
    Every day is a fight for me. Just getting out of bed this morning was a battle hard fought. I’m on my way to a situation right now I don’t want to be in. Reading this has given me additional fortitude.

  12. Thanks for your post. I am a Counsellor that can work internationally online.
    http://www.drt.global
    God bless.

  13. Miriam says:

    Honest thought provoking and beautifully written post Chris that I’m sure will touch the hearts and minds of many who are battling what you’ve been able to overcome.

  14. Louise says:

    Chris OMG i whole heartily agree with every comment posted so far. Like you i lost the love of my life in 2008. He seemed fine that day, went to work and never came home. Just last year in Sept. a fellow workmate went down that path also, with the help of party drugs and alcohol.
    And we, all, know of somebody unfortunately that has gone down that path. As for the mental health issue thing I know it has to be talked about but i sincerely hope it does not become”too trendy”that the original goal of better mental health is not lost.

    It is very very dark this depression thing and no matter how much talking about it sometimes it just makes it seem worse or that you feel as though your”just being a bit silly”to quote a person I once counted as a friend.I love your honesty and wish i could be so open about all of these struggles like you do.

    I have checked out your friend and his charity ride. We are all here, in wordpress world, so keep the blog going. It is probably what we need. xxx ooo

  15. Wow! This is a powerful piece of writing. Thank you for sharing your pain in such a compelling, heart-felt manner. Bravo for your strength.

  16. Beechmount says:

    I can identify with what you have written, since I also lost the great love in my life and had to try intensely not to let the depression that I suffered for more than a year to become permanent. I have managed to come back to the surface after a long submersion in waters that threatened to drown me. The cure for me was writing in a journal that I named “Journey to eternity”. It helped me understand what I was going through and how to get over it.
    Thanks for writing such a powerful piece.

  17. Kate says:

    So often people talk about suicide and the aftermath, but not so many people write about when they hit rock bottom. It is truly refreshing to read others post that highlights its okay to not be happy in life. Depression and anxiety is not something that needs to be taken lightly or seen as a negative trait. Its natural. Truly enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Daria Kill says:

    Reblogged this on Let me give YOU the Moe-down and commented:
    Important thoughts on suicide.

  19. Magy S says:

    You are the man Chris! Am so glad that somehow I am in contact with you through your writings. You are an inspiration and people who become inspirations are destined for the best in life! You have gone through all of it, because you were meant to be who you are today, a strong and a beautiful human. Wish you luck!

  20. I am certain that you will reach people with this post. I especially like the part about it being okay to feel depressed. I tell my daughters over and over that their feelings are never good or bad or right or wrong. They are what they are. The greatest threat of experiencing guilt about one’s feelings is that they shut down altogether. A friend of mine who once seriously considered – even planned – suicide told me later that she wasn’t sad or depressed – she simply didn’t feel anything at all anymore. As if she were already dead.
    I would be interested to hear what you think about this . . .

  21. tonijalique says:

    The writing, oh the writing. Inspiring piece.
    This piece was so well written that I read it all off without noticing.

  22. Phil Huston says:

    Long ago I was married to a girl. Artistic. Talented. Pretty. That fell apart sooner than it started. She had at least four variations of her personality. Back then there was no support at all. We went our separate ways and she fell into the self medication pit. Came out of it completely and one day fifteen years later, two early teen children and living in a postcard a stone’s throw from the beach in San Diego, at the age of fifty, she drank a quart of vodka, went to the pool and blew her brains out. Depression and confusion and bad chemistry are a time bomb. Deal with them. Force anyone you know with a problem to address it. Fix it, or when you turn around to ask them a question they’re ten years gone. I won’t advertise a link, but if you follow my gravatar, look for “Life Sentence.” Because there is no escape from depression, only awareness.

  23. Graham says:

    It seems wrong to “like” a post about such a difficult subject but I just wanted to say great work in being so honest and for feeling you can write about something so personal.

  24. Louise says:

    just want to say to circumstance 227 yes your friend is right. there are times people like chris, me etc just do not feel anything. its that fog that is the hardest to actually explain to anyone willing to listen..

  25. Ivana says:

    Beautiful piece Chris

  26. In his poem “Heartbreak”, Jeff Foster writes:

    “Life is here to break your heart over and over again
    until you realise that heartbreak is life too.
    And then your heart can no longer be broken.
    Or fixed.
    And you stand naked in front of life, moment by moment,
    knowing that whatever happens is totally okay
    even in the midst of perfect devastation,
    which, of course, is devastating perfection.”

    ***

    My name is Michael Sean Symonds and I know the impacts of depression on my own life; I’ve experienced & seen the devastating effects it has on the lives of others; it’s a symptom I would not wish on the worst of my imagined enemies or dearest friends.

    There is a gift in loss – the edge of a two-sided sword.
    It’s the gain in touching & tasting a part of ourselves – beyond thought; in the part of ourselves that cannot be gained & cannot be lost.
    In the pain & loss of our most important, precious & dearest treasures in life,
    there is a soft & gentle awakening – a silent recognition
    Who-We-Are, is Inherently – There,

    In the midst of all experience, both the up & the so-called down.
    Depression is an invitation; a petition & appeal from the mystery & silence of an unspoken part of ourselves – to ourselves.
    And, in the midst of our deepest depressions, where all that can be taken – is taken,
    There can be realization. There can be a noticing. There can be an opening for the light of a deeper acceptance, that lies beyond fickle, vile judgments of the mind.

    Here, in this space of this Knowing,
    In the Now-ness of ourselves,
    A Heart that once seemed so fragile & broken
    begins to flower – all at once, with the sweetness of a fragrance
    that pervades all life.

    ***

    Dear Chris,

    I’m sorry for your loss.
    I’m sorry to hear the toils of your life experience; in how they have become such heavy burdens of grief & loss for you to carry.

    One thing I do know though; one thing I can already see so clearly & now say, is that you have & will Love again. It will be a different kind of Love, the kind of Love that can only come from the fire & crucible of Awareness gained in & from – the deepest, cruellest, kind of losses no human being need ever be subjected to.

    You will Love again, more deeply & more unconditionally.

    Your Love will flower with a fragrance & sweetness that will touch every part of your life; in the brilliance of the words you pen, in the precious lives you touch & on the lips you will kiss.

    It will be a courageous, fierce & innocent Love; the kind of Love that can only rise from the experience of loss & wisdom gained.
    It’s a Love that will flourish & thrive, built on the foundation of experience.

    A Love that has been refined by the fire of that experience, in chambers of the Heart that were predisposed, born with a single destiny: to feel the deepest kind of Love that You Are!

    Be well.

    Stand Naked.

    michael

  27. Beautifully written. I feel you man, I feel you.

  28. Dwordslayer says:

    Hey, hearts are allowed to bleed, we just don’t want any hearts to die. God bless parents, friends and family because we sure need them sometimes. Thanks for this. We all need the words you share.

  29. So beautiful and inspiring testimony !

    Personally I’ve always felt this sort of depression (and nervous crisis) since I was 10yo and the thought of suicide crossed my mind several times but I’ve never gone until to the death, I’ve always stopped myself before.
    I call this kind of depression about me : a “sleepy long term depression” because it can appears frequently in the year or just one time.
    Obviously, no one has never known.
    Curiously, I estimate myself to be strong enough to overcome these “short moments of weakness”.
    What is this “strength” which suddenly push me to give up my desperate act before it would be too late ? I cannot explain this precisely but I think my dreams, my illusory hope, my knowledge thirst, my “sensory (but not only) perception” of things (which looses me but finally saves me) and unconsciously my “revenge” on this world, and the consideration of God’s will, could be the main factors.

    But nobody works with the same way.
    Anyway, I’m sure your initiative will be very helpful for people !

  30. shythom says:

    It’s scary – the stats about how many people will experience some form of mental health disorder in their lifetime. And yet, we still have some ways to go in breaking the stigma surrounding mental health disorders. I think, however, it is progressing. I hope it is. There are so many people, like your friend, Ben, who are raising awareness. My hope is the government will start to take this seriously as well. Here in Canada, it takes at LEAST 2 years waiting list for a person to obtain a therapist through our health system. Unless they end up in the ER and is diagnosed for requiring psychiatric care. 2+ years is a very long time but many people can not afford weekly therapy where it is anywhere from $150-200 an hour (at least here in Toronto, that is the going rate). Most employers cover a certain amount through their health benefits program but that still only covers a few sessions at most.

  31. bookwarm2011 says:

    Dear Chris,
    Thank you for sharing your story with us. If you ever need someone to talk to, we’re here for you. I’ve lost people due to suicide and it’s hard to deal with it. I’ve had friends that have been suicidal and I suffer from depression and anxiety, and I think it’s very brave that you can share your story with everyone, and I’m sure your friends are watching down on you, beaming with pride.

  32. Your amazing courage is only half the story; your determination to help others through posts like this one is the rest. Blessings on your journey…

  33. We need a group like yours thank you for sharing.

  34. danielleisnotspecial says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience and I’m very sorry for your loss.
    I have a very large circle of friends all suffering from mental illness and I’ve noticed that it’s not always the symptoms that do the most harm. It’s the lack of support and empathy. When you’re feeling that low, the last thing you want is for people to invalidate your experiences or make you feel as if being mentally ill is somehow a weakness or a flaw in one’s character. Sometimes the thing we want to hear most in the world is that it’s okay not to be okay.

  35. Having been in those very shoes, experiencing the same things you experienced, yet insisting that I was the only one that could ever be going through what was destroying me, it reminds me that what isolates us from help is often ourselves. By expanding my world by unveiling my secrets, I invite the help of those that love and care for me into my life.

    Thanks for sharing.

  36. katacreates says:

    I am so glad that finally someone said it’s alright to be not okay. I am so glad that someone understands the person who is suffering does not always want to talk about it. I went into depression last year and I still feel the ripples. My mind had become my enemy and there was nothing I could do about it that time. I hated my closest people and lashed out at them never really telling them what was going on inside me because I knew all I would get was an advice to ‘let the hate go’ or ‘stop overthinking’. How could I let go of a thing that I wasn’t holding and that had put me in chains and scooped out a part of my heart?
    I’m sorry for blabbering. But thank you so much for sharing this. I will never forget this.

  37. Rayn Roberts says:

    Thank you, Chris, for writing “Eunoia”. I understand. I’m not a young man, so I’ve been dealing with how people respond or do not respond to people with mental illness all my life. I live with PTSD; and I too lost the woman I thought I would grow old with; so when I say I understand, I really do. My writing is often a way to get through it all. Thank you for following it. I point to a poem that you may get in ways that are deeper than readers who haven’t lost a great love. Hang in there. I wish you all the best. https://raynrobertspoetry.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/realization-2/

  38. Bessetta says:

    Thanks for sharing your story Chris. I’m glad that you have found a path forward and that you are willing to talk about our much needed dialog about suicide and mental illness.

  39. This is a very good article, thanks for writing it. I’ve not suffered the loss of anyone through suicide, but I do suffer with mental health issues, I have anxiety, stress, depression, I’ve been told I’m on the autism/aspergers spectrum though I can’t get an assessment for an official diagnosis, and I have tried to kill myself in the past. Thankfully, my suicide attempts are years back now, but my depression does go through cycles where it gets worse and then gets better for a while, and currently I am going through a bad time with my anxiety, to the extent where if I don’t have a reason to do so, I find it very difficult to leave the house.
    I have reached the stage where I am ready to seek help to work through the issues that cause my anxiety and depression, and hopefully move towards a better future, but I have discovered that although I want help, finding it is incredibly difficult.
    Mental health care here in the UK is pretty bad, there aren’t enough services to help everyone, and the services that do exist are so swamped they can only afford to take those most in need of help, which of course means that everyone whose issues aren’t yet serious slowly get worse because they can’t get the help to prevent their conditions becoming more serious.
    My writing gives me something to focus on and keeps me going, but it isn’t a patch on the proper psychological support I need and can’t get.
    Anyway, thanks again for the article and for visiting my blog, and I hope you keep feeling better.

  40. Meg says:

    I actually lost a friend to domestic violence a few weeks ago. About 6 months before that, my apartment building was destroyed in a fire, so I don’t even have that many memories of us to look back on. These are different kinds of losses, but it’s definitely disorienting and I relate to a lot of this. Good piece.

  41. Robin says:

    An amazing piece of writing.

  42. stuhambone says:

    Thanks for sharing. Reading this helps.

  43. Dacian says:

    Amazing post! Really helpful to see that people express themselves in those troublesome times.

  44. therandomblogofirreverentthoughts says:

    Very powerful post. The good thing about hitting a rock bottom, or facing up to life’s challenges, whether that is by way of a relationship breakdown, loss of a loved one, or even taking a hit in the game of life is that you are able to pull yourself together with renewed or fresh focus and learn and grow from that experience, maybe even coming out of it truer to yourself and more complete as a human being.

  45. eurobrat says:

    So important to be able to acknowledge when you’re feeling low and broken, and to be able to talk about it. I know from experience that the worst thing you can do is be in denial and pretend that the feelings aren’t happening. Very inspiring read.

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