Thomas: I found meaning

The views and opinions expressed in the following story are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Mental Health Colorado.

Caution: This story mentions suicide experiences that may be upsetting to some readers. 

The following entry was written by Thomas Truelson, author of For the Heart Cries Blog.

hands in a receiving pose

February 16, 1995

“Until you know that life is interesting, and find it so, you haven’t found you soul.”
                                           Geoffrey Fisher  –  Archbishop of Canterbury

A few hours ago at the Samaritans meeting, I had an epiphany – a life altering experience that cleansed my soul and enlightened my mind. At this time nine months ago, I was in the I.C.U. of Cape Cod Hospital, hooked up to life support systems and monitors – tubes and wiring all over my body. Machines were keeping me alive and I wasn’t expected to live through the night. And now, tonight, I discovered a renewed interest in life – a new purpose for living.

Although there is no medical reason why I am alive, I have spent the last nine months often wondering; why did I survived my lethal dose of drugs? Was it fate? Was it God’s will? Was it divine intervention by a special superior and spiritual force, like my guardian angel or Saint Michael? Was I just plain lucky, damn lucky? Why did I live when I so wanted to die?

The answers to those questions came to me at tonight’s Samaritans meeting. A new woman was there, Ruth from Mashpee. For the first hour she didn’t say a word, just listened as others talked. And then, with tears in her eyes, she told how her twenty-eight-year-old daughter killed herself in January 1994. Because of the stigma of suicide she had experienced, from shame, guilt, embarrassment and sorrow she felt to the way friends behaved by trying to avoid her, she felt lost and discouraged – and it had taken her over a year to come to the Samaritans’ Safe Place – to share her feelings and suffering, and to be with those who understood what she was going through and to be with those who may somehow understand what her daughter went through.

Without saying so, she was seeking answers, answers to questions that have been haunting her for over a year. If there is one thing suicide does besides leave those left behind sickened and shackled with severe, solitary sadness, it’s that it bombards the mind with a quandary of quizzical questions, questions whose answers are frighteningly elusive at best.

When Ruth finished her story, I was asked to share the story of my suicide attempt and what I experienced, went through and suffered – which I did. I mentioned that depression creates tragedy in the mind and that despair creates hopelessness in the soul – and together, depression and despair are deadly demons of self-destruction, for it is the nature of these beast to destroy you from the inside out. I told her how prepared and calm I was to face death – and for those who die by suicide, it is not perceived as a violent act, but a peaceful release. When I finished, she was smiling because my story answered so many of her maddening and menacing questions. My story gave her a genuine and gratifying glimpse into her daughter’s mind and soul – through me she could see and feel her daughter and experience her pain.

She felt comforted and as her smile faded there were tears of relief in her eyes when she thanked me for the words I said, the story I shared. She said that for the first time she could feel the pain her daughter felt and could comprehend the turmoil that must have raged within her – and that she had a better understanding and a clearer image of the final days and moments of her life. She added that she felt a sense of redemption and that she discovered a resolution – her mind reconciled.

When the meeting was over, she hugged me, then hugged me tighter. As she smiled and said goodnight,

I finally realized why I survived. I survived so that I could help others overcome the suffering of a loved one’s suicide, and that I could help relieve the pain of the stigma of suicide. And that by sharing my story I could provide answers, that my words could offer insight and hope.

Once again I have realized that it is important to remember that people who attempt suicide do so out of tragic sadness, for suicide is death by sadness. And what these sorrowful souls never realize is the unimaginable and ungodly harm and heartbreak their deaths cause to those who love them.

I have also come to realize that the stigma of suicide should not be carried by those who survive a suicide attempt nor by those who have lost a loved one to suicide – for these people are burdened enough. The stigma of suicide is truly carried by those who turn their backs and walk away from those who suffer in the silent shroud of suicide’s savage consequences.

Since becoming fully conscious from my coma as I wandered the halls of the locked ward of the Cape Psych Center, I have come to expect the unexpected from God – not always sure of His surprises. Tonight’s meeting at the Samaritans was an unexpected event, a surprising gift from God – because through Ruth I discovered my soul, a reason for being.

And tonight I also found answers to some of the nagging questions that have been pestering me since I left the hospital. Why did I go through what I did? Why did I suffer from so much mental madness and misery? Why has suicide been such a sad and intricate and integral part of my life? The answer is this – by somehow surviving all these ordeals, all the hardships and heartbreaks, I have suddenly become uniquely qualified to help those who mourn the loss of a loved one to suicide. Such is my soul’s destiny, my discovery for being – a meaning for my life.



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