I was an addict—addicted to death. I would scour the dark web and watch videos of people getting killed or committing suicide, and I would often feel nothing afterwards. I thought I was the biggest madman in human history.
Have you ever stumbled upon something so magnificent, we-inspiring, and beautiful that you were lost for words? Were you forced to stand there for a moment, emotions heightened, and smile—soak it all in—before dispatching yourself back to reality?
This overwhelming feeling crushed me when I, from a front row seat in Real Madrid’s “Bernabeu,” saw Cristiano Ronaldo score a sweet goal; as I came across Vincent van Gogh’s powerful The Starry Night in NYC; when I first heard Local Natives’s heart-wrenching album, Hummingbird; and at the minute I turned 18 (which, ironically, struck as I filed into an “18+ only” Odesza concert). At these times, I felt perfectly free and happy.
You know what the absurd part is? These awe-inspiring moments happened during or just after 2013—the worst year of my life, by far. Robin Williams once said, “You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” I suppose these moments were faint rays of light—trapped in a voluptuous cloud of loneliness, rage, confusion, tiredness, and the feeling of being TRULY lost (one that, for roughly 8 months, beat me up and down like a hungry mama bear trying to escape from a coffin). Perhaps they were reminders that life still existed in me, that I was still blooming into maturity, and now you’ll see why those vital signs were once imperceptible.
November, 2012 through January 16, 2013
Five days a week, I woke up at 5:47 am (often running on three hours of sleep) and sped to school for 6:30-8:30 soccer practice; dragged myself—in a drained, inattentive state—through seven hours of class; hurried home, ate several bowls of Rice Krispies, and napped for an hour; drove to club soccer practice; went straight to my bath afterwards; and then clambered into bed to pass hours of time on my phone—skimming through existential philosophy, art (and its anguished creators), depressing music, geography, social studies, optical illusions, theoretical paradoxes, and legions of other random things, as you’ll see on my Welcome Page. I became perpetually obsessed with music, film, frivolous trivia, social media, history, and learning in general. Those lucubrations allowed me to be briefly stimulated, soothed, and sedated; they let me feel less alone in my dull, driftless, and despicable existence.
At this time, the patch of gray hair above the left side of my forehead also began to develop (it’s a rare, stress-induced form of the condition “poliosis,” not a birthmark that I’d previously had). Besides, my only stress relievers at the time were soccer, my sole cathartic release that I thus got pretty decent at, and my impeccable cat, Big Brown; soccer and “Big B” (my best friend at the time, sadly) were always there for me. And I needed another stress reliever when December came, so I started self-medicating by smoking weed (though my mom found out a month later thanks to the police—you’ll see why).
Fittingly—because I was so affected by this swirling hurricane of doom—I became very impatient and cynical, which drove me away from the people in my life furthermore. I went from a generally positive and upbeat person to a despicable, monstrous Edward Scissorhands—and am still recovering from that now. But things get worse. This daily schedule bickered on into 2013, but new, unprecedented burdens began to accompany it.
January 17th, 2013
On January 17th, I was the main suspect for a bomb threat made at my school, Highland Park High School (in Dallas). This was a HUGE deal. HPHS has dominated state records in every sport; our education is often ranked by Newsweek as one of the country’s finest; and lots of my friends’ parents are mega-millionaires (a couple billionaires, too). Matthew Stafford, legendary Detroit Lions quarterback, and Clayton Kershaw—one of the best baseball pitchers ever—were classmates and friends at HPHS. Jerry Jones, Mark Cuban, George W. Bush, and many other famous people live in Highland Park. Get this: before he was POTUS, George W. and I literally lived on the same block (The 6200 block of Northwood Road… look it up)! There are many things I could say about HP—good and bad, fascinating and frustrating—but you get the point.
So, that bomb threat was huge—our school’s first serious threat in its 100+ year history. The investigation lasted for months; the FBI got involved (perhaps they investigated me, as I know the police had already stalked my Twitter); and it was all over national news, Wikipedia, etc. Why I was the first suspect, you wonder? Several hours before the drama unfolded, people caught hold of and sent around an infamous rough draft I brought that day for an English assignment. The prompt was, “Write about how school has affected your personality,” and I called mine “Fuck School” (plus one other word that I’ll omit). Though sloppy and incohesive (as I’d typed those four insidious pages in the dark hours of that morning), it basically condemned my school’s social cliques, its people, its teachers, its education—as well as my life, “society,” the US, and the world. It also contained depraved curse words, inappropriate jokes about women, rants about religion, and diatribes about how I hated everything. I was clearly frantic, and most people in the school—students, teachers, and faculty—had seen the manifesto before 2 pm, and THEN the bomb threat note that was left in a bathroom got us dismissed from class. What a wild coincidence, right?
January 18th through mid-summer of 2013
MAJOR DEPRESSION. ADHD. ANXIETY. SOCIAL ANXIETY. BIPOLAR DISORDER TYPE 1. These are diagnoses I received after January 17th (though the initial depression diagnosis was eventually found to be a byproduct of Bipolar Type 1, which is also the worst type of bipolar).
It was proven that I didn’t leave the note (as the camera outside the bathroom hadn’t seen me a single time that day), but I was VERY affected by the situation. It was an absolute catalyst for further chaos in my dying self. Furthermore, there are many other bizarre details and situations that contributed to the following months—all of which I will detail in that future book I spoke of—but here are some main points: I almost all of my friends, and you can probably imagine how HP parents and students felt about me; I lost my belief in a god (a long, unpleasant process); I was infamous everywhere; and the amount of isolation, self-hatred, and insanity I encountered for a long time was ABSURD.
Having those diagnoses painted on my forehead didn’t help my cause, though. My death-obsessed mind was an emotional desert. Any flicker of joy or happiness I ever felt was immediately drained out by a mental storm of deception and emptiness, as I descended more and more into ultimate delusion—ultimate pain, exile, and emptiness. I constantly felt nothing—at every moment, every place, etc. And because I was so insane, I wrongly felt like I couldn’t communicate what I was feeling with family or friends. I was an alien. I was a patient in my own insane asylum. I was a failure. I sat alone in my room all the time; most of my class grades were lower than your room’s temperature, and it got to a point where I’d deliberately fail assignments for attention (I once had a 9 in chemistry, failed “theater arts,” and wrote irrelevant rants on several AP tests too); and I sort of tore apart my life anytime I felt the weight of stress, commitment, or anxiety. Moreover, without my old friends, that daily schedule of mine continued through the weekends (except, in lieu of attending classes, I sat around on my phone or playing video games—depending on whether I was at my mom’s or dad’s house). You get the big picture.
It was a blur. It was a national headline.
It was heartbreaking. It was Hell.
I recovered, but there wasn’t an “Aha!” moment. I didn’t get a life-changing phone call. I didn’t find “Truth” on some website. I didn’t meet the girl of my dreams. I didn’t debunk the binding fire of death and start having joyous picnics at the Dallas Arboretum—or do anything else that would look hip and upbeat on Instagram. I didn’t do anything elaborate, special, or seemingly decisive.
Quite simply, I started sleeping more (in the summer), trying to hang around people, attempting to stay positive, and receiving advice from people with similar struggles—and people with different circumstances, as you can learn a lifetime’s amount of knowledge from most humans you’ve laid eyes on. My mom said I didn’t have the “deer in the headlights” look in my eyes, and I looked instead like a composed, determined individual. I was better at positively reflecting on my past, present, and future self. Moreover, the world around me didn’t change; I—with the help of many others—put forth effort into making my life’s world better. I realized that how you view the world rests on what you make of it—and I found myself more adept at discovering it, talking to humans, pursuing experiences I’d never fathomed, and loving the precious fact that I was alive.
What a bland recovery, right? Exactly. It took a few simple steps for me to feel a lot better; some aspects of a healthy lifestyle are very bland (just ask American Beauty’s Lester Burnham), but the stability of their uniform blandness can make our lives easier.
Honestly, I could paint this senile crisis in 100 words or 100 trillion—it was all psychological chaos, lasting a minute at times and a millennium at others. Suicide flirted with me every hour of every day, rubbing its hands all over my face and inviting me to kiss its pretty lips that concealed its destructiveness (after all—unlike many guys at my school—I hadn’t yet kissed a girl anyway). It was an exit, an emancipation from my problems, anxiety, stress, unhappiness, ineptitude at maintaining or acquiring friendships, darkness, confusion, numbness, and horrid life.
Why am I not discussing my experience with suicide attempts?
You shouldn’t care about my relationship with suicide attempts right now; I honestly wouldn’t want to share such secretive personal details, and they’re irrelevant to this post.
September is indeed World Suicide Prevention Month, and I applaud others for opening up about their attempts, but my post is more about life—and how infinitely valuable it is. Granted, I don’t know all the answers, but I know that my life, which has been quite awful on countless occasions, is way too appealing for me to end it. Ponder this: none of us know the future. Even at my darkest times, I can’t tell you how my next 70 years will go (if I even live long); the one thing I can tell you about them is that it that they have magnificent potential for greatness, as do yours and billions of others. Collectively and individually, humans progress, and the infestation of a young teen’s depressive phase is not an indication of what the person will achieve. For all I know, I could be my country’s president, just like my old neighbor, or maybe it will be YOU. Don’t let death foreclose your home—it sits on top of an oil spring of abundances, and you’re a Rockefeller.
I still struggle with suicidal thoughts at times, but I will never act on them anymore; I’ve ascended from the thinnest of ice, and many others have ascended too. We cannot be shackled by these TRANSIENT feelings that torment us crazy people, and—to rise above them—we just have to keep playing the game, one whose difficulty and rules we can easily adjust. We can’t pull the plug and mutilate the perfect harmonies existing between our future journeys, relationships, discoveries, feelings, experiences, and everything else that “life”—whatever it is—conjures.
Naturally, I have absolutely no idea how any of you suicide strugglers feel RIGHT NOW—as I write this, or whenever you read it—but please just vocalize your issues and take steps in beating them; be proactive, healthy, and cognizant of the FACT that you are loved. Contact friends, family, hotlines, or—especially if it’s imperative—leave a comment below. I’ll be there for you. You know this: the world deserves your beaming presence, your innovative ideas, and your incessant love, while you—you especially—deserve yourself and all that you bring more than anybody and anything else.
Whether you’re reading this now or in a few years, feel free to share this. A few acts from others of seemingly innocuous goodwill have saved me from doing VERY ill-advised things, and you never know—you could end up saving a life. Thank you for your time.