On my birthday, a message of hope.

Sometime during the day today, I’ll be 42 years old.  Let me start by saying 42 is awesome.  Every year is awesome if you make it that way, despite the setbacks and everything you go through over the year.

And now for the bad stuff, and it will get bleak here.  Three years ago at this time, I had lost all my hope.  I had given up on my life and was making plans to end it.  It was a horrible time for me – duh! – and I didn’t see any way out of my downward spiral; in fact, I didn’t want to stop it.  I had lost control of my temper and I was deep in the roots of  depression.  It was the culmination of a lifetime of either insisting I had to do everything by myself or just ignoring my problems and making them go away.  The crux of it was a lack of self-confidence and a lack of self-esteem.  It was a horrible time for me and my family and I did many things I’m deeply ashamed of, things I won’t let myself forget but things I also learned to forgive myself for.  Those closet to me know what I put myself and others through.  It ended with a half-hearted suicide attempt on January 14, 2009.

I learned a lot of very important things that day and immediately after.  The first, and something that still amazes me to this day, is the tenacity of life.  Life is so very hard to kill.  I’m always reminded of this when I walk on the flightline at work and see a weed growing in a crack in the acres and acres of cement.  I also learned that not only can I not do it on my own, but it’s perfectly OK to ask for and get help when you need it.  I still have to remind myself of that sometimes.

One of the most important things I learned is that I am the captain of my ship, and that ship sails in whatever direction I turn the rudder.  Well, OK, the opposite direction of the rudder, but you get the drift.  There are a lot of things that go into directing that rudder, and that’s what you need to discover – what steers your rudder.  Religion, exercise, family and friends, work, stress, diet and exercise, peer pressure, weather, and so many more things – these all guide your hand before you steer.  It’s up to you to determine how you use each of them.  You decide how much input everything gets before you decide your course.

OK, now for the good news.  It gets better.  I’d like to quote some Cheap Trick here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7qZXGpqla4  Everything works if you let it.  Or, more accurately, everything works if you make it work.  At 39 I was making plans to end my life.  Now, I’m 42 and I’m excited about the rest of my life, content with who I am (there’s still some work to be done, of course), and ready for whatever is next.  Fuck yeah.

I’ve thought about writing this post for a while now, and even done a few drafts and discarded them.  It’s not something I do lightly.  One of the reasons for doing it is catharsis; keeping things inside generally isn’t a good thing.  Another reason is the old standby – to help others.  You know, “if just one person reads this and gets help…”  Yeah.  That’s the main reason.  I’ve been through it, I survived with the help of family and friends.  That’s what I’d like to emphasize: Get some help.  Even when life sucks, it’s better than the alternative, and it can get better.  Talk to family or friends.  Call a suicide hotline.  Go to your local church.  Send me an email.  Do something.  Because, and to paraphrase from Monty Python, you can get better.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzYO0joolR0

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