Blog

Sep6
2016

You Are Enough, Too

By Chad Moses

For anyone who knows someone who is struggling but doesn’t know what to do. 

Last month I was invited to participate on a suicide prevention panel at a music festival. During that session, a counselor told us to turn to one another and practice asking a question. We were told to establish eye contact and ask, “Have you ever thought about dying by suicide?” Now, we weren’t told to answer; this exercise was designed to break the ice so that the next time we had to ask that question, it wouldn’t be the first time. The next time, the word “suicide” would cross our teeth less like a curse and more like the open door to a safe haven, welcoming the heart-torn into a confident embrace and understanding.

During the panel, I shared my belief that suicide is the fatal result of a restricted perspective, of a perceived lack of an audience. I told them that I believe the fundamental lie that depression, addiction, diagnosed mental illness—or really any number of disorders—offer us is that we have somehow waived our right to personal interaction and the gift of experiencing life with someone else. The truth is a diagnosis or a dark season could never dissolve the fact that we exist for the purpose of being noticed.

My job lands me squarely in the middle of millions of people each year, giving me more practice and opportunity than most to notice people. Every day, a fair few stop by the TWLOHA booth to talk or ask questions or share a bit of their story. Not every story is happy. Not every story ends with encouragement. Some end with sighs and a subconscious stoop in posture. Some end with no clue of whether or not I will ever see that person again. Honestly, there are festivals I go to every year because I need to see how certain stories are playing out.

My most frequent plea behind the booth is that I hope the people I meet have safe places and sounding boards back home. My hope is that they find people like you. People who are reading this and wondering if their story can ever have a positive impact on someone else. People who want to help but don’t know how. People who know how but are afraid.

One of our most popular phrases over the past year and a half has been “You Are Enough.” It comes from an incredible blog post that speaks to the power of perspective and offers a rallying cry for those who need additional convincing of the enormity of their existence. But there is a subtle flip side to it too.

Yes, you, who are struggling, are enough.

But, you, who are lost in your questions of how to care for the people in need, are enough, too. You are enough to get the ball rolling in the direction of recovery, of hope, and of help.

I am not going to pretend like I have figured out all the nuances of how to keep people hopeful and alive. There is no perfect script. But your dreams of your son’s wide smiles are enough. Your confused tears and tight hugs to hold your friend together are enough. Your awkward and fear-laced questions to your father are enough. Your love notes in lunch boxes, your voicemails sung to “The Simpsons” theme song, your scrapbooks that look like ransom note collages reading “I will do anything to get my friend back” are enough. Your 2am rescue missions to local bars, your favorite baby animal pictures, your touchdown dances, your off-key hymns, and your dog-eared pages of your favorite book are all enough. Your own stories of darkness and the role your loved ones played, your admissions of insecurity and confusion, your recounting of your journey to counseling, your reliving of the lessons you learned in relapse, your black-and-white memories turning into collaborative paint-by-numbers are all enough. And since they are enough, they should be shared and given as frequent and generous reminders that you were never expected to go through any part of life alone.

The words that kept me on this planet were “We will make it through this.” It was a friend inviting herself into my story. Yes, I needed counselors and books and practice and grace. But first I needed a friend. And she was enough. She was more than enough.

An older gentleman approached the booth this year, and after I shared our mission statement, he said, “Well I don’t know anyone who sounds like that, thank God.” I responded that that made me sad because there is no shortage of heartache going on all around us at all hours. To confess insulation is actually an indictment on either the breadth of your community or the lack of vulnerability. Both are terrifying.

Suicide prevention has to amount to more than an individual somehow rediscovering a will to live. It has to be a community event. It is utterly unfair to place the onus on someone’s buckling knees to ask for help when we as a society have done such a poor job of asking questions conducive to living. As we fight for the people we love, we should take confident inventory of what we are fighting and how we can fight it. The stigma that keeps our friends from asking for help is the same sense of silence that convinces us that we are somehow incapable of offering help to the hopeless.

But you don’t need to have all the answers, to have read all the books, to have letters like MD, PhD, or LMHC following your name in order to save a life. Your eye contact, your broken record reminders of solidarity, your questions, your affirmation of the beauty of the life staring back at you—this is how suicide prevention starts. If the lie suicide offers is “I am as alone as I’ve feared,” then there is no shortage of ways that it can be disarmed, debunked, and outed as a fraud.

Your voice is the single greatest weapon we have in this fight. Your cracked, trembling, tear-seasoned voice. So today, I urge you to unleash your vocal chords. You need only sing loud enough to remind those you love that they are not alone. Welcome their questions as your own. Ask if they feel hopeless to the point of the death, if they fear they won’t wake up tomorrow. Then cry. Give thanks. Tell them you know how they feel, or maybe that you don’t but you won’t let a lack of experience be a barrier to love. Embrace until your hearts beat in unison. Tell them “You are enough,” and I am confident that, in their own way and own time, they will say “You are enough, too.”

This NSPW, we’re going to equip you with new ways to participate in suicide prevention. Check back here each day this week to see how you can join us. With your help, we’ll see lives change and we’ll see people keep living.

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Comments (11)

  1. Noah Hardoin

    I’ve met Chad several times at festivals, I’m thankful for his devotion to helping people gain perspective, and his kind words that reassure there are moments still yet to live for. Even when he looks at you his eyes are always whispering “please stay alive” in a heartbreaking and beautiful way. I look forward to when I can meet him again even if it’s just to tell him where my story has lead.

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  2. Gary Hartwell

    I recieved a letter stating my Service-Connected disability will change from 80% to 10%. I’m so scared about being able to afford to live. And on top of that,my son keeps texting me and leaving me voice mails cussing me out because I won’t send him any money. (He’s 21-years old!!!) I’m so depressed and worried that I’m afraid of what I’ll do!! (PLEASE) can someone give me any advice/suggestions/encouragement?

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    1. Claire Biggs

      Hi Gary,

      Will you please email us at info@twloha.com? We’d love to send you some encouragement.

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  3. Kristin

    Chad, everything about this post touched me – perhaps more than anything else I’ve read this week. Your long list of ways people have expressed that solidarity, have stayed present with those they love who are struggling, of how they expressed that love…spot on. I am so very lucky to have had those who did that for me, and I kept living because of it. Thank you, thank you, thank you for these words. They will help start those conversations that lead to help and hope and love and living.

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  4. Pingback: You are not invisible | Some Grace With That

  5. Trina Branella

    Chad as I was reading you blog I had the feeling that you ra rely know if you have touched someone.
    This time you did.
    I am 55. Suppressed abuse memores from childhood. Mother father sister brother. Abuse ran the gamete, nothing was to much.
    I had been born for there amusement, sexual pleasure and late on a sourcertain of income for my sister.
    Over the last 5 years there have been some close calls. I am stronger now
    Last week I found out my brother was the instigator to bullying in elementary and high school. This devastated me. I never saw it though it was so obvious.
    Struggling but not in crisis, I realize the fantasy relationship I created in my head, creating MID.
    So now with all the crap, emotions etc. Who am I?
    I don’t know. I do know I have a pulse. That means my purpose still exists. I have a loving, compassion ate husband and 3 dogs that think I am their world. They are rescue dogs.
    With all this, I AM ENOUGH for now. Strong enOugh to fight the self harm urges and I can stand to challenge suicide intentions.
    ALL BECAUSE I FOLLOW TWLOHA, AND READ YOUR BLOG. THANK YOU CHAD. Peace

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  6. Bellla

    Thank you! Everyone plays their part indeed. Thanks for playing yours so compassionately and considerately.

    This section especially, incredible.
    Suicide prevention has to amount to more than an individual somehow rediscovering a will to live. It has to be a community event. It is utterly unfair to place the onus on someone’s buckling knees to ask for help when we as a society have done such a poor job of asking questions conducive to living. As we fight for the people we love, we should take confident inventory of what we are fighting and how we can fight it. The stigma that keeps our friends from asking for help is the same sense of silence that convinces us that we are somehow incapable of offering help to the hopeless.

    God bless

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  7. juliette

    thank you.

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  8. b.e. noll

    Thanks for this. Chad, this is so very true. As strange as it sounds, we don’t want you to have all the answers. WE want them! …but the answers don’t always come. We don’t need answers. We need each other. I’ll never forget telling 2 friends about being abused. About how it made me want to die. About going to therapy. One of them wanted to say something profound. He left me a voicemail… It ends with: “I’m just a dumb guitar player. I don’t know if any of this is helpful.” That message was sent over eight years ago… I. still. listen. to. it.
    You’re not a dumb anything. You are a friend. A true friend. Who listened, and stayed a true friend. That means more than you know. You don’t have to fix anything.
    You just have to be you. Hang out. Make me laugh, or smile… Let me cry. Let me talk about it, or not. Just be you, being my friend. It means more than you’ll ever know.

    Chad, I hope you get to hear the rest of those stories. And if some of them make you cry, I hope the tears are joyful.
    (Sorry this is so long)

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  9. Gina

    Hey i not english…
    ich habe stark mit Selbstmord zu kämpfen. Ich muss ich gegen mir selbst kämpfen… ich ritze mich so 5 jahre….. ich hab Depression.. ich habe mir hilfe gesucht aber was ich immer sagen will wie es mir geht und so weiter… geht es nicht ich kann mich Viel ausdrücken wen ich es schreiben… wie kann ich mir noch helfen?

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    1. Claire Biggs

      Hi Gina,

      We list resources here for people who are struggling: https://twloha.com/find-help/local-resources/

      We also encourage you to reach out to someone in your community and let them know how you’re feeling. Let them help you get the help you need.

      Also, if you need some encouragement, please email us at info@twloha.com. We believe in you, Gina. Please keep fighting.

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