On Sweetness & Suicide
Before I start I want to preface by providing a trigger warning. This post will discuss suicide & suicidal ideation, depression and how I handled a very serious mental health emergency. Please only continue if you feel strong and secure with your mental health. I must also add that your continued love and support is one of the main reasons that I am healthy today.
My experience with suicidal thoughts and ideation began about 15 years ago when one of my dearest, best friends in the world committed suicide. As well as this, over the past five years, I have lost 9 friends to opiate overdoses. Too many funerals. Some days I can’t even remember who is alive and who is dead from my adolescent group of friends.
I have never thought suicide to be a wise approach to depression, but for over a decade, the concept has lay waiting in the darkest recesses of my mind.
Over the years I have faced a few terrible moments where the idea of taking my own life to absolve myself of chronic mental anguish has been overwhelmingly present in my mind. However no episode has been as frightening as the one I faced last Sunday.
After losing my day job, a very dear relationship and coming up short on finding work in the ring, last Sunday I began experiencing acute feelings and considerations of self-harm. These were not conscious thoughts, I did not want these images in my mind. These thoughts felt like alien invaders with no regard for my mental wellbeing.
Involuntarily, I began hurting, attacking and cutting myself. My outbursts were intermittent, but I could feel them coming and could do absolutely nothing to stop them. I am still wearing bruises from this episode today, 7 days later. I had almost no control over my outbursts of self-harm. This had never happened to me before in all of my years of battling depression. I was also alone. Things got downright scary. It was like I was living inside of a nightmare.
Every sharp object in my house suddenly looked like a doorway to relief. I began planning how, where and when I would take my own life. I laid in the bathtub, fully clothed, for quite awhile as if it were my inevitable tomb. My experience in fighting suicidal urges has taught me that if you start making plans, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, you MUST ring the alarm.
For me, this meant calling my most trusted friend and confidant, Louden Noxious. I texted him “Louden, I’m afraid I’m going to hurt myself, can you please come over and watch me?”
“I’m on my way,” he responded.
I am moved to tears just thinking of Louden’s quick acting, kind heart.
Louden arrived but my angry, uncontrollable, crying fits and outbursts had only just begun. Much of my anger and sadness stems from a traumatic, abusive childhood, an estrangement from my father/abuser and a long battle with depression that is overwhelmingly powerful. I used to be a very angry, unpleasant young man. Sometimes in my weaker moments, I can still be this person.
Without knowing it and according to my therapists, a long time ago I started turning my anger inward. This is how depression starts. So began the cycle of self-hate for me.
I held a small gathering at my house for a few friends to watch Wrestlemania and everyone enjoyed themselves. I kept up a smile for my guests, but deep inside I was in agony. When my mates left, I went to sleep, hoping the morning would bring a fresh start. A few times during the restless night I woke up crying, begging the universe to let me die peacefully as I slept. Before I could even fall back asleep, a wash of guilt and embarrassment floored me. These two emotions would not leave me for many days.
When one considers suicide, it is not like browsing a menu. The idea of suicide, as I said, is like an unwelcome invader. It’s weaponry includes anger, shame, guilt, embarrassment and many other low vibrational emotions.
The next morning, I made myself a healthy spinach shake for breakfast, I drank lots of water and I walked to the beach. My friend Stokely Hathaway reached out to me and said “I don’t know why but something told me to call you this morning.” We had a wonderful conversation, after which, I broke down again.
As I lay there on the beach, face down and sobbing in full view of the public, I could only think selfishly of stopping my own agony. I called my mum and cried to her as I walked home. Soon gentle sobs became agonizing wails. As I walked through the streets of Venice, CA clutching my chest, imagining it to be my last walk home from the beach I couldn’t help but think, “I am not ready to die.”
So why did this feel like a death march with a million invisible soldiers at my back?
When I arrived home, I laid in my bed to sleep off my sadness. It was noon on a Monday. The warm, gentle embrace of sleep refused greet me.
I knew at this point that I needed a doctor so I called my therapist from my Intensive Outpatient Therapy Program. This is called an IOP for short and is a very important resource for any depression sufferer. More on that later.
She told me she could not assist with acute feelings of self-harm and that I must visit an emergency room.
My last mental health hospitalization cost me thousands of dollars and I was reluctant (being jobless and all) to take on debt.
I tried to call my health insurance provider to make sure they covered this sort of thing, but was too weak to listen to the prompts and press the buttons. As pathetic as it sounds, I was too weak to use the phone.
I then activated my first layer of support again, only this time I texted my friend Slade. He is an important part of my life and a true friend. He found a hospital for me where there was a bed available. “You’re Doing the right steps,” he said.
“I’m afraid that people will think I am only trying to elicit sympathy. They’ll think that I am a freak.”
“It's understandable, a lot of people put a stigma to it, or they worry about how people will see them. Right now let's just get you out of the woods.”
Slade is a great friend.
It was then I alerted my roommate of my dangerous situation. Now, you may be wondering why I did not do this before. The truth is, I have dealt with suicidal urges and ideation for so long that I have become scared of telling my friends for fear of exhausting or fatiguing them. This was my disease deceiving to me. Tricking me into believing that a member of my first level of support would be too upset himself to assist me.
My roommate greeted me with compassion and care. He sat on the corner of my bed and said “I had no idea you were hurting this badly, buddy, how can I help?”
I asked him to drive me to the emergency room. He dropped me off and went about the rest of his day. When I arrived, I could not stop crying. The attendants asked me if I had friends or family with me and this only made me feel worse. Because I was physically alone, I also felt mentally alone. I know this is not true and that I am never truly alone, but again, diseases like depression can deceive you.
The attendants asked me “do you want to hurt yourself?”
“No, but I’m afraid I might.”
“Do you want to hurt anyone else?” They asked.
“Heavens no,” I responded.
The police took my clothes and searched my bag which made me feel like a bit like a criminal. The hospital attendant did not take his eyes off of me as I sat on a bed in the hallway of the emergency room sobbing for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, a few hours later, I was admitted to the psychiatric ward at UCLA on a voluntary basis.
Often when one goes through this process, they can be put on a “hold.” That means you submit your freedom to the State. You no longer get to decide your own fate. Luckily I was not placed on a hold and was admitted to the hospital on my own volition.
I spent the next five days in the care of some of the most amazing, compassionate, kind practitioners I have ever met. They gave me medication immediately to calm me down. I accepted without hesitation.
By Wednesday I had stopped crying. I attended every group session that I could, which happened every hour. My fellow patients became like family to me. They were folks from all walks of life who suffered similarly to me. I no longer felt alone.
While in the hospital, my inner creative came to the rescue. I rediscovered my love of painting. I read three Batman graphic novels by Frank Miller (and fainted quite a bit at the violence and foul language). I wrote a letter of appreciation to my estranged father to try and release some of my anger toward him. I wrote a song for my ukulele. I even penned a children’s story about a fairy who lives in a flower by the beach.
Throughout the week a few of my friends came to visit. I lost access to my mobile for the week but was allowed to call a few dear friends who gave me unbelievable support and words of encouragement.
After several days of hardwork in intensive therapy, I received good news. Thank heavens! My doctors postulated that I was no longer in danger and agreed to discharge me after a few more days.
I filled out many worksheets on emergency planning, positive coping mechanisms and forms of therapy I have never heard of, like Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). These will be my study guides for the indefinite future.
The medication I was given has calmed me down for now, but will not take full effect for a few weeks. One of my greatest mistakes which led to this episode was shirking previous orders from the doctor to take an antidepressant. I was too scared that the pills would take away my essence, my spirit.
Depression medication must be closely monitored and can seriously change one’s personality. My mistake was believing that I did not need it or that I could face depression on my own with exercise, healthy eating and positivity. These things are extremely beneficial to one’s health, but sometimes these habits are just not enough. Some depression sufferers like me need medicated assistance as well and that’s okay! It is nothing to be ashamed of as a small insecure part of me may have previously believed.
My outward appearance is a projection of sweetness, friendliness, and understanding. Sometimes, I am not so nice. Sometimes I am downright mean. My self-hate and anger boil over and I become a monster to those around me. A Rottenbelly. Though I am not proud of these moments, I am also not ashamed. Just like anyone else, I can be weak at times. But I can also be strong. Part of being strong is accepting your actions, forgiving yourself for them, apologizing to any parties who may be hurt or offended and correcting your behavior for the future.
A great deal of the time when I share positivity, I am selfishly trying to work myself out of a rut. Underneath all of the masks I wear, there is a frightened man who is only now coming to grips with his sickness. After 16 years of suffering, I am still a beginner at self care and self love.
If you take away one lesson from this, I must urge you to love yourself. Love yourself selfishly, wholly, without fear, without embarrassment or shame or guilt. Consider your own happiness before any other, because if you are happy, everyone around you will be happy. You can care for yourself like no one else in the Universe. And if you care for yourself and you love yourself, you will be free and clear to share that love with others.
I have much more to share, but for now, I am a bit exhausted. In the coming weeks and months, I will continue to blog about self-care, self-love, depression, suicide, and many other mental health topics that are near and dear to my heart. I hope you’ll join me on this journey of self discovery.
One more thing; my career as a professional wrestler, my interactions with so many kind friends, well wishers supporters and strangers has saved my life. Reader, you give me hope. You are my light in the dark. The thought of recovering enough for an appearance, a match, more hugs, more handshakes, that kept me safe when my disease took hold. You weren’t just my life raft in a raging sea storm, you were the helicopter that lifted me to safety.
I love you. Please take care.
If you are suffering or can relate to feelings in this post, you are not alone. The National Alliance on Mental
Health https://www.nami.org/ is a great place to start.