Three years ago today, I almost made the mistake of taking my own life.
In that moment thirty-six months ago though, the idea of suicide seemed much less like a mistake and more like a decent solution to a horrible problem. That problem was a gripping depression, an overwhelming sense of loneliness, and a struggle to find any sort of lasting fulfillment in life that wasn’t because of drugs or alcohol.
So I sat in my room, and I wrote my suicide note.
Three years later to the day, it feels weird to put pen to paper again to reopen a door that, for a long time, I wanted to stay as shut as possible.
But in other ways, it seems fitting because this year has been the first year I’ve ever been willing to open that door and see what’s waiting on the other side of it.
Turns out the other side of it isn’t so scary. I guess I’ve found the same to be true of life since February 26, 2011.
I used to think that joy was going to come find me. Now I see you have to go find it. You have to take chances: on opportunities, on moments, on people. You have to love harder than you think you can, and it starts with surrounding yourself with people and with your faith.
You have to go looking for the thing you want to find.
I’ve spent a lot of my last three years looking.
What I ended up finding was simple.
I found out that our deepest struggles don’t also have to be our deepest secrets. I’ve found out sometimes you just need to go see your counselor. I’ve found out that there is love waiting for you as soon as you stop waiting for it and go out there and grab it with both your hands.
And I guess, more than anything, I’ve found out life can be good. Scars heal. Bruises fade. Things that were broken get fixed. And time gives us all the gift of acceptance, whether we’re happy about it or not.
It turns out it’s pretty easy to walk away from a night where you want to end it all. The hard part is finding a reason powerful enough not to walk back.
My reasons are pretty simple: I love my family. I love my friends. I love being a work in progress. And I believe in second chances. In comebacks. In redemption.
Today, I’m not the same person that wrote that suicide note just three years ago.
Things are different. Life is different.
I’ve been blessed to travel the world, to get to do work that I believe in, and to literally live the dreams that I had as a kid.
I have an incredible family, friends, and community behind me. They are talented, flawed people who wear their imperfections all over them, the same way I wear mine all over me.
Around Christmas, I was in an airport in Seattle. I met a young guy who was a university student and knew some of my story. He asked if he could buy me a coffee, and I said I only drink tea. He called me a ‘typical Canadian,’ and I laughed, despite not knowing if that really is very Canadian to only drink tea. Then he asked me if he could ask me a personal question. I said yes. He said, “Is it hard to talk about almost killing yourself?”
I guess the short answer would be yes.
But I believe the better answer is that I would be much more uncomfortable if I didn’t talk about it.
I can’t hide from my past. I can’t change any of it either. And quite honestly, I have no desire to anyways.
I know who I am. And I’m okay with it.
And maybe that’s the biggest change you can ever ask yourself to make, to stop hating who you are and start loving yourself. To love your story. Even the messy parts of it.
Especially the messy parts of it.
This is one of the messier parts of my story.
And I’m really glad I get to share it with you.
Because, in almost every way, that means I’m still living it. I still have a story. I still have more mistakes to make. More love to give. More moments to witness. More life to live.
And so do you.
Perhaps that is the greatest blessing of all.
Here’s to life on the other side of despair. Here’s to believing in better things, as my friend Jamie Tworkowski would say. And here’s to having them come true.