contributed by Gary D. aka Japper
In the beginning of 2019 I came across a facebook post that took my breath away. It was written by a man I didn’t know and went like this:
To all my beautiful friends . I’m sorry but I have chosen tonight to die. I love all of you and sorry it ended this way Shit happens. Goodbye love you all.
With my heart in my throat I sent a direct message to him, asking him if he was okay. He did not respond for days. And when he did he was brief. Rather lamely, I wrote him that I was happy he was still here.
The seed had been planted though and we soon followed up with a long conversation where we got to know each other a bit more, and I got to discover the rare gem this man is as well as the disease he is courageously willing to talk about.
“I need to tell this story. If I can save someone’s life it is worth it. I live it, I get it, not sure I can beat it but let’s try and save someone. This is an epidemic that needs to be talked about and addressed.”
A passionate guy with a smile that lights up a room, Gary has been battling depression and consequently suicidal thoughts for the latter part of his life. At one time he was always the happiest person in the room, earning him the nicknames ‘Smilie’ and ‘Japper’, and depression was an impossibility. What happened?
“Depression crept into my life when I got my divorce. People always say their divorce was bad, but I win bad, hands down. 25 years of marriage was gone with the snap of the fingers. It stayed messy and cruel on a daily basis for three years. There was no letting up.
Then I fell in love with a beautiful woman. The days of fun and happiness were back and abundant. Yet in the background was a silent killer creeping into my life. I was like a duck swimming, so calm and happy on top, my feet paddling like crazy underneath. It had got me, depression was now a daily part of my life.
I fought it with happy thoughts and fun things but inevitably it attacked my mind relentlessly. Alcohol was my out. Drink and forget the bads and remember the goods. It was a daily fix to my problems. It didn’t solve anything, just paused my depression briefly.
I remember going on antidepressants for the first time. I didn’t like them. I felt they flat-lined me. No highs, no lows. No sad emotions and certainly no happiness. It wasn’t me. My emotions were hidden deep inside me with no release. So my daily battle with depression had entrenched itself in my mind. Again I was calm on top yet paddling like crazy underneath.
Sleeping was difficult and focusing was nearly impossible. You tend to fake happiness to the people around you, silently crying underneath. Depression I like to say is the devil: attack, attack, attack. It is relentless with no mercy.
Along came another incredible woman who is still the most beautiful person in the world. She taught me spirituality. I experienced many moments with a peaceful mind. Meditation, exercise, and even praying slowly became daily fighters against the devil. This almost worked. I was close, yet so far.
Then came my last battle. It was so cruel that I didn’t want to live. I had no job, no money, no home and of course, no girlfriend. That was a bad week. I saw no purpose for myself. I had lived a great life and had done everything a man could ever want to do. I had two beautiful children now grown up. I actually was at peace with myself. I believed the road out was too difficult to begin again. Leaving the world was the simple way out. I chose it.
My post saying goodbye was sincere, I was checking out.
Then along came the overwhelming support of my friends. They are the most beautiful people in the world. Their compassion and love was so beautiful. They made me believe that perhaps I had a purpose to pursue.
I’m not overly religious, but spiritual yes. Is there a God? I believe there is. I believe that in my final moments God gave me a choice to live or die. I was seconds away from death, perhaps only inches. That close, I chose life, at least for now. But it is a daily battle where I’m happy one moment and crying the next.
God knows I’ve been to the bottom choosing death yet for some reason have chosen life. For now. So I’m going to tell my story and listen to anyone suffering from this dreadful disease. If I can save one life that will be a win. I’m going to try.”
Today, Gary is coming out of his shell to reach out to others about depression and suicide. For him, some days are great and others are really challenging and the two seem to flip flop as quickly as the snap of a finger. He has survived suicide attempts and great losses due to depression.
He is ever grateful for the support, concern, advice, and love he has received from the people around him.
“A person gets thrown curve balls in life, and sometimes we find it very overwhelming. Friend’s help and support is a blessing. I will suggest that whether it’s me or someone you know or love, carry on ,share a moment. It doesn’t take long as you have proved to me with your kindness. Loneliness is a huge mental part of depression. To be lonely is crushing, it’s a deal breaker. Be a friend, it works.
In ending, again thanks to all you beautiful people out there for your support. You bring tears to me, and happiness in my heart.
Love you all so much.
contributed by Gary D. aka Japper