“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.
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”
This really moved me. Thank you for your honesty in all that you have faced. Thank you for being candid and real, and for not choosing the easier path of sugar-coating.
Hi Chris. I’m glad you liked my post because it led me here and I got to read your story. I’m so proud of your for being strong and brave enough to say this shit out loud. So many men don’t. You have a beautiful way with words and clearly the soul of a writer xx
You are doing good things in life and sharing light to the world. That is a meaningful and purpose living.
Thank you for visiting my site, for it lead me to yours. I do believe in the perfect time for everything, and your post was the right thing for me at this time. I am presently involved in developing a grant application that involves using a communication method to help the students where I work and the surrounding community of my institute, have open discussions about mental health and for them to reach resource personnel in case of needing help.
We all go through our dramas, but at every step it teaches us a lot and helps us become more resilient.
First, thanks for liking my post, and then read this post I feel sorry to you about losing your brothers, and it’s make me remember about my friend. I have a friend from high school have tried to doing suicide, but luckily she want to talk to me. We were been apart when we go to university and lost communication. Iam very shock when she suddenly text to me and talk to me about her intention. I was going crazy for that scared and don’t know how to talk to her and delete that intention from her mind, since I’m not an expert in psychology or a motivator. On that time, it such a mess and I even can’t found her and let her talk to me. That’ s gonna be happen to anyone, and yes they need at least someone around them to talk to them. This situation make me realize to be more care with my friends and family, and more speak out when I’m feel low. Coz all people feel high and low, but they don’t speak.
Thank you for your honesty, the look into your soul.
Remember, when a man and woman “fall in love”, that is a biological trap that helps perpetuate the race. It is best thought of as a form of love called “eros”. This is an emotion that comes from the Paleolithic brain.It is closer to lust than real love. Real love puts the other first, strives to help the other find their full potential as a human being, as a child of God. It is only after the blinding glow of eros leaves that one can choose to love with the God like love known as agape. Many relationships fail when eros fades and is not replaced by agape. Agape requires a God like stretch beyond the world of sensation and sex. Marriages that last decades are most likely based upon agape and not eros.
It is your relationship with Jesus that will determine how well you survive the refining fire we all must pass through in this life. May God bless you and give you courage to face the world. You are so right. You, we are never alone. Though you may not hear Jesus shouting in your ear, He is there whispering: I love you, I died for you. You should live for me.
I live, because Jesus died for me.
What you wrote is very true but may not be immediately helpful to those suffering from depression. Having a human being to speak to is of the utmost importance when you’ve hit rock bottom. God is always listening but not everyone who is hurting believes in God or knows this. That’s why we must be available to comfort each other.
Absolutely right. Salute to you for your honesty and vulnerability. Salute to you for rediscovering self and sharing self so as you heal others also heal. It’s not easy to share internal unease and build and grow. It’s a daily process. Thanks for sharing your journey. Continue being a light to self and others. Be encouraged 💛
What a brave and moving post this is. You have a very powerful voice and your words have tremendous strength. Thank you for liking my blogpost because it brought me here to read this.
Hi Chris, how ya going? Loving ya posts that come to my email..👍🌏💞🍀👣🌻have a Happy Sunday…💛💙🌹
Reblogged this on Pattimouse.
Friedrich Nietzsche: “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”
This is true. I have lost a friend who was like a brother, a former lover, a grandfather and the childhood friend of my son to despair or drugs. Every incident was painful, but none of them defined me.
I’m not the only middle-aged person who looks back and thinks, “If I could take the person I am now and transplant her into my younger self, I’d be a frigging star of the universe.” Honestly, I think I’m right.
You seem to be trying to understand who you are, and this is a good practice. Try not to immerse yourself in regret; we all have regrets. Open yourself, with caution, to new experiences and people. Start from a step back and ease in slowly, learning from your experiences. Try new things, but do not leap into new things. There is time. Self respect and care will allow you to understand, over years, the person you are meant to be.
I believe there is a good future and that you can find it.
You have my best wishes.
I know how it feels, and it took me 6 to 7 years to get back to normal (or something close to normal). I admire your bravery.
Thanks for liking my stuff Chris cos it brought me here and your story was just what I needed to see right now. Thaank you. I don’t think I’m rock bottom just now, I’m on a ledge just above and stepping off was a definite option this week. But I will try, I’ll try to find a way back. Thank you for your honesty and your story and thank god for your family and friends.
Thank you Chris for your honesty and for sharing your struggles. I have never lost a loved one to suicide but I have been very concerned about a couple of them who have gotten to that precipice. I, myself, have stood on the edge of that dark void at least 3 times in my life. I thank God that He held my hand and pulled me back. I am blessed to know that you are working hard at rising above the pain too. May God comfort and strengthen you as you continue life’s challenging journey.
we are lucky people, you and i. we had writing to go through our fears, we had someone to support us, and listen to us, and that gave us their love. so we can find another way.
sometimes it seems impossible to leave that dark place, and sometimes it seems we’re going down once again. but as long as we have someone by our side, we’ll be ok.
thank you for reminding me of how lucky i am. thank you for reminding me how strong and loved i am. ❤
I cannot tell you how apropos this post is tonight. I have reblogged it for a friend who just lost someone she knew to suicide. Thank you.
What a beautifully inspirational story, thank you so much for sharing it. After losing someone to death I too lost hope, and I ventured a sad and lonely path of prescription pills to ease pain. I took so many to end my life. Somehow in the midst of my delusional behavior I called someone and got help. It took a long time and I’m still a work in progress, but I do get out of bed. Reading the similarities inspires me and I can’t wait to read more from you. Many blessings to you and us. We are strong, but I think we forget it sometimes.
What a moving article! My mother has been suffering from serious mental health problems for many years now, there has been ups and downs, she has attempted suicide a couple of times, and I am so grateful she has been found in time. There is always a way out, things are never as bleak as they might seem at the very darkest moments! Thank you for helping to bring awareness to mental health problems, they affect so many of us, both directly and indirectly!
Thank you so much for having the courage to be candid and vulnerable regarding an experience that still causes people shame and embarrassment. I applaud your efforts at bringing awareness to the public and ushering mental illness from the darkness into the light.
Thank you for sharing your story. Depression affects so many people, it’s important we talk about it and get rid of that stigma around it.
Chris thank you for sharing your story, and for holding on to the light.
Do you believe that bigotry and ignorance is rooted in the attachment to ego?
Thank you for visiting and liking my post last week.
Your post… A powerful piece of writing describing a situation that is all too common sadly. I congratulate you on surviving what was clearly a very difficult period of your life. It’s never easy to talk about depression and how it affects you and unless you have been there you cannot truly comprehend the despair and misery.
Thank you Chris for visiting my site and for this very difficult subject you have broached in a heartfelt way. I have lost friends and family to suicide and have stood at the brink myself. The only thing that kept me anchored was the thought I had a young son who needed me. The way I figured if I could be of use to at least one other person in this life, then I had to go on living. A bit like Thomas the Tank Engine wanting to be a really useful engine☺. It is a difficult journey to come up from hitting rock bottom, but I am so glad you made it, because you are providing a guiding light for many others.💛
Thanks for liking my poem, Chris; it led me to this awesome post of yours! Thank you for sharing your difficult experience. You lead by example: showing others that they are not alone in having these experiences, that it’s okay to talk about it and to reach out for support. Wishing you all the best in your journey ❤
Thank you for sharing so honestly on your blog. A long history of mental illness runs through my family as well. I myself have been ok but have probably had mild depression at times or could easily go that way. My mother has always been very open with her struggles & has shared openly & appropriately about other members of her family. I’m glad you liked a post on my blog, so I could discover your blog.
Hi Chris, mental illness has always been stigmatised and so thank you for opening the topic and helping others talk about it too.
And thanks for visiting my blog and liking my post. I’m glad to have found your blog.
It’s so sad and dark.
I don’t find it pity but just sad and loneliness in this writing.
Everyone who’s end their life isn’t the answer for the problems we’re all have.
When I was in high school and university, I’ve been struggling with this anxiety (till now) and I’m not a very open person.
I saw a lot of fights, my family, my parents, my friends, and someone close to me. Which makes me never trust anyone.
That’s why I never telling someone about me.
How I deal it?
I write. When the anxiety comes, I just get really depression, sometimes I cry without reason.
I never cry in front of people, even when my dad died, I don’t tear up, my graduation farewell or something sad.
My blog was made from my anxiety.
I deal it with pouring myself in it, or by traveling.
I get what you’ve been through, so I what I mean is I feel the loneliness in this post more than depression.
What is ROCK BOTTOM excatly?
Rock bottom is when you really feel you’re giving up about everything, not because everything hit you down.
I hit my rock bottom 21years ago. At least I hope it was my rock bottom! Since then I have gone through devastating and life changing traumas and gave survived them, flourished even. Like you, the turning point for me was to be able to recognise my demons and turn and face them. I still get visits from the “black dog”, but have recently learned that pushing it away is really not the answer. The black dog is of course me, out in the cold, lonely and frightened, and needs a hug and kindness not pushing away. Sorry for the sentimental analogy, but you don’t seem afraid of analogies so I’ll leave it there!
My story would not have been so great though had I not had access to therapy. My friends abd family were kind ( those that didn’t run a mile anyway) but they didnt have the skills to help me make sense of my breakdown or give me the skills to work towards recovery. Without the input of a good therapist I believe I would still, 20 years on, be medicated up to the eyeballs at best, dead at worst. I certainly wouldn’t have a happy life with fulfilling relationships with my family and friends. Some people can recover without professional intervention. Many of us really need it. What saddens me most at the moment here in the UK, more than the stigma (though obviously that is very very serious) is that however much you open up these days you are unlikely to get help unless you are wealthy enough to pay for a private psychotherapist. Successive governments have so severely cut funding to the non-profit/ voluntary/community sector organisations that provided free or inexpensive therapy, that the services are now virtually non existent. 8 years ago before our government decided to plough tax payers money in to rescue some bankers, there were multiple services available. Now, none. Which goes to show how much priority mental health is really given. Our wonderful NHS is being sold off to profit making businesses, and you can bet that mental health services are not going to be big money spinners so we can be sure they will go. Our hospitals are straining at the seams. The police are complaining that they are having to hold people in their cells that should be hospitalised not imprisoned because of the lack of beds … I could go on. The thing is, that without the political will to actually create and maintain services and support, all the reducing of taboo in the world is not going to heal those who need professional help.
To return however to your blog, I do think it is important to share our experiences. I made a decision years ago to be upfront about my struggles. There have been times when I was discriminated against for my health issues, and times when my experience has been seen as asset. It is important that we keep banging on about it, and stop this fear of mental illness, and undo all the stereotypes of mentally ill people as dangerous murderous or weak people.
This post made me think about all the people I know who have committed suicide.
There was Mary who killed herself in a way I can’t remember. My mind keeps telling me she shot herself. She was a junior high / high school friend. After her death I only learned about how deeply depressed she was. I had no idea. She took her life in her 20s and we hadn’t really been friends since school days. She was so intelligent, authentic with a wry sense of humor. I have fond memories of our past relationship. I’m saddened that such a worthwhile person chose not to exist any more … But she’ll never know that from me.
The next suicide I learned about was Dr. Vaughn. He was an ER physician I worked with and someone I both admired and respected. He seemed to be one of the very few who understood my sarcasm. On a side note, I later worked hard to rid myself if sarcasm not realizing what a barrier it was in communication and my relationships. Dr. Vaughn had a sly sense if humor. I was always impressed by his quick spot on diagnoses. One day I asked how he was capable of this and he shared this aphorism with me, “When you hear hoofbeats think of horses not zebras.” I was a bit dense and he had to explain this to me, and I’ve never forgotten this saying.
One day, I returned to this old job after having left a couple years. I hadn’t seen Vaughn come in and finally mentioned this to another favorite doctor jokingly saying, “Where’s Dr. Vaughn? Did he commit suicide or something?” I was really joking and badly at that! The other doctor looked at me and said, “Didn’t you know? He did.” I was aghast and appalled by what I had said, and then cried with the shock of the news. He apparently put a gun to his head, covering it with a pillow in a remote part of the house in the middle of the night. His wife found him. It was rumored he had severe financial debt. He was in his 50s. Ugh. Such unnecessary tradegy. I wish their had been someone to talk him out of that. I miss this wonderful man and am saddened he hid his depression.
Another suicide I learned about was Tom who wasn’t my friend, but the ex-husband of one of my friends from the past. I met him on several occasions. He had a Cheshire cat smile and a dry humored laugh. He smoked a lot. He didn’t pay child support. He had many jobs over the years. He was an off again on again alcoholic. He was adopted and came from an affluent family. I didn’t mind chatting with him but found our small talk boring. He shot himself in the head in his 40s. After his death which surprised many, I learned he was doing really well for a sustained amount of time. He left a short note stating he had put off killing himself until his 19 year-old daughter gave birth to his grandchild. It’s so sad Tom didn’t stick around to get to know his granddaughter and be a better grandparent than he was a father. Simply sad.
The most recent suicide I know about is a friend’s 15 year-old daughter taking one of her father’s guns , leaving the house and shooting herself in the head outside in the woods in the night. I only knew of this girl from stories my friend shared with me; I also saw numerous photos of this girl from ages 4 to 15. She had become beautiful with a gorgeous smile. She dabbled in pot and alcohol. She was known to be bubbly, light, fun and an airhead. She had many, many friends. Her death surprised many people; two teen suicides had taken place in the community before hers …. Then a handful of other ten suicides occurred in that city — so many that it was featured on 60 Minutes. The undeveloped teen brain and it’s misguided thinking can be a tradegy waiting to happen.
Suicide is quite an abyss.
Thank you for your post today. I had never reflected on this group collectively of people who took their lives. All of them mattered and all of them should still be with us. ❤