An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

For Jeff

Earlier today I was out running errands, and as I was waiting for an order to be filled I opened my phone to scroll through twitter. I immediately noticed a tweet about someone (@fedge) I follow who was in possible danger, and if anyone who lived in Seattle could contact the police, please do so immediately. My heart dropped in my chest with a thud, and when I checked his tumblr, I did not allow myself to believe what I was reading:

Don’t worry. This isn’t a suicide note. I left a proper note at the scene of my death. And I’ll spare you that outpouring of sadness and grief here.

I just wanted to say thanks to my friends who may be reading this. I wish I could have done so intimately, one-on-one or whatever, but you do that kind of thing and people get suspicious. So thanks to my friends who put up with me and tried to help. To those who gave up on me: I don’t blame you. I only blame myself.

I did not know Jeff personally. His twitter account is protected, meaning he had to approve you if you tried to follow him. We exchanged a few messages when I requested to follow him last year. Just a hello, nice to meet you.

A couple of hours later I found this:

My friend Jeff is dead. He had bi-polar disorder and had a psychotic break last fall, losing his beloved apartment and falling into legal troubles because of it. I helped him move into the new apartment, the one he killed himself in, last December. I was able to pull up the address on my foursquare check-ins and lead friends and the police to the correct apartment. 

Those of you who have felt this kind of hopelessness (myself included) might identify with a lot of what he had written recently:

Now that I’m older and have reached middle age, I’ve been through plenty of ups and downs (mostly lots of downs). It seems like there isn’t going to be any progress made here. I think I’m stuck where I started out. I’m definitely stuck somewhere I don’t want to be.

Now I’m thinking that I might be over. There’s no joy in my life, no love. I haven’t had a meaningful relationship in years. I haven’t been in love in forever. Things I used to care about have faded out. All my friends are far away. And I’m stuck here—quite literally stuck—in a city that doesn’t give a damn about me. I’m tired of feeling sorry for myself. And I’m sick from this overwhelming sense of dread.

Lately it’s like the world is telling me to go, and I don’t feel like putting up a fight anymore.

This is beyond tragic. I guess I wanted to bring attention to it here primarily to reiterate that if you do feel this way you are not alone. And you can get help. You do not have to end the pain like this. And I say all of this as someone who tasted that dread in her mouth and wanted to give up, as someone who thought that it would never get better. But it did. And it will for you. Hold on.

Next week I’m speaking at the opening of a new NAMI facility here in Salt Lake, so these events are especially prescient. I wish I had known Jeff better, and I can’t explain why the suicide of an Internet acquaintance has hit me so hard. Just that it makes me so sad to know that he felt like he had no choice, and it was shocking to watch it unfold so quickly. Gone, just like that.

Please, if you see yourself in these words, do not be too proud or too afraid to ask for help. Just hold on.

  • mdsvc89

    @Natalie — thank you for getting out of bed, getting back on your meds, and pulling your shit together. And thank you for posting.

  • girlplease

    Agree with mdsv89. I understand that place. I finally went on meds (almost a year now) after 40 years of severe depression. My 3 year old is what got me to finally cave in. I’m glad I did .I’m not saying it was a complete cure, but even on bad days (like I’m having right now), at least it lasts a day or two and I’m not rock bottom like I used to be.

    I don’t wish depression on anyone. Sorry if my previous post seemed flip. It wasn’t meant to be. What I’m saying is unfortunately, even with treatment, it just doesn’t go away completely. We all want it to, but it doesn’t.

    It gets old, really old. So I understand completely where Jeff came from. Been there way too many times.

    Thank you to my son for helping me hang on.

  • abiku

    My sister took her life 1 month ago tomorrow. This post hit me like a sucker punch. “Gone, just like that” is exactly right.

    Sometimes, there are no words. I wish more people would realize that when they feel the most hopeless and the least capable of asking for help, it’s the most important time to try and it’s not really something you can do wrong. Talk to anybody you know or, if you feel completely alone or are too embarrassed/ashamed by the thought, an anonymous medical professional. Stop believing the lies you’re selling yourself. Just reach out and keep reaching out until you feel safe in your skin again.

    I’m not sure why I’m typing this. I guess it’s what I wish I could have known to have said to my sister, so I’m saying it to this text box instead.

    Anyhow, thanks for the post. I hope it helps somebody who needs to read it.

  • MamaTinTX

    Thank you, Heather. I’ve been there, too, and have lost several friends to suicide. Now I work for a nonprofit in Austin that was formed in 1995 after the suicide of a beloved musician, Sims Ellison. We serve 700 local musicians (as well as their partners and children) annually with mental health and addiction recovery services. And the only donations I hate receiving are the inevitable memorial donations that come every year in response to another suicide. I love you for using your powers for good. The more of us saying these things to each other, the better.

  • kgroovy

    this note really resonated with me. after reading it, it stuck around in my brain for the rest of my day. i am feeling a lot of the things he was feeling when he wrote that. stuck. lost. unloved. doom. i had an appt with my therapist last night and i started bawling as soon as i walked in his door. i guess i hadn’t realized how helpless id been feeling because i get so busy and i push everything down down down. i make myself busy so i can ignore the terrible thoughts in my head. and i am so uncomfortable with my thoughts that sometimes i wont even talk to my therapist about it.

    anyway. not sure why im commenting but i just felt like i needed to get it out there. thanks for the post.

  • toad97

    My heart breaks for Jeff, his family and friends that he left behind. I know how it feels – my dad killed himself – and I worry that my brother will too. I imagine him thinking many of the same thoughts that Jeff stated in his posts. My brother is middle aged, hasn’t worked in years, hasn’t had a romantic relationship or friends in years, and is now headed out to Eugene, Oregon on his own to try a new life there. I pray that he finds it, because I worry that the loneliness and despair that he’ll feel if he doesn’t will have him ending up like Jeff. Tears are streaming down my face as I type this. Peace to you Jeff, wherever you are.

  • battlemaiden

    I almost lost my mother when I was 15 and have lost several close friends over the years. I’ll never understand why people feel that this is their only choice but I will never judge someone or tell them to suck it up for feeling this way. I hope that in some small way I can make a difference in someone’s life, maybe keep them from making this choice by just telling them I love them.

  • MollyCT

    I’d like also to take a moment to remember those who have lost loved ones to suicide. A friend has found the “Out of the Darkness Walks” healing. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention runs these, but also raises awareness about suicide and concrete things we can do to prevent it, like making sure everyone has access to good mental health care.

  • sizzlesays

    Jeff was a former tenant of mine. That building his friend references helping him move out of is the one I have managed for four years. My heart is breaking over this news. Jeff was a good guy and I’m so sad that he was so lost that this seemed the right choice for him. I wish I could have helped.

  • aloneinthedark

    I read this and thought i’d like to add my own comments first of all very sorry to hear about jeff it’s a terrible thing he much have been going though i know because for the 3 years i have been suffering from depression myself and it has ripped through my life like a wild fire it’s take away everything i cared about i lost my girlfriend and that devastated me that just added to the pain my work has suffered so much as a result and i’m lucky to still have a job right now.

    Its such a terrible disease that slowly takes away everything you love and replaces it with pain and fear and some days i wonder how much more i can take so i can relate to what jeff went through and i know how tempting it is to just end it all i know because it’s crossed my mind too many times.

    People who do not suffer with depression in it’s various forms don’t understand how debilitating it can be and how devastating it becomes after such a long, time fighting it you just want to give up sometimes, as what’s the point if there is no happiness in your life people who say man up seem to think it’s like when your having a bad day for a normal person when in fact it is totally the opposite. I hope that i will be strong enough to fight through it as it’s a battle i don’t want to lose but it’s so hard to win

    To Jeff sorry i know your pain i hope you have know found the peace and happiness that we all deserve in life and in death

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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