I lost a friend to suicide this week.
It’s not that I thought I was ready for this or anything. No one is ever ready for something like this. I just thought that maybe – just maybe – I understood it a little bit. I have read so many memoirs and blog posts about what it means to be depressed or suicidal. I have always been drawn to stories about people who suffer from mental illness and I think a huge part of that is because I wanted to understand. I had friends growing up who suffered from depression and hurt themselves, so I started reading and reading and reading, and while I knew that I could never understand on the I’ve-Been-There level, I thought that maybe all of this reading was helping me to get it on a cognitive one.
I will never understand this. Not that I’ll stop trying to, of course. I’ll keep reading and I’ll keep obsessing and I’ll keep reanalyzing every detail that I can to try and understand so that when I see the signs, I can stop it, but I don’t think I will ever fully understand. And I don’t think I really want to.
I don’t want to know what it’s like to be in that much pain and to feel that alone.
In a recent blog post written by Jenny Lawson, she talks about her “folder of 24”. It’s a folder full of 24 different letters she received from people who were actively planning their suicides when they read her “coming out” post on depression. More importantly, they read the comments section, which was flooded with me-toos and I-thought-I-was-the-only-ones. These messages saved at least 24 lives. I say “at least” because she goes on to say that when she would be out signing copies of her memoir, people would come up to her and whisper “I was number 25.”
“There were so many 25’s,” she writes.
Why couldn’t he be a 25?
I know it’s not fair to ask that question, but I’m in a lot of pain and I’m not really in the mood to think about whether a question is fair or not, if I’m being honest. My friend took his own life and I wish he hadn’t. End of story.
So now, all I can do is hope that he is at peace, wherever he is. I have to hope that if he was in that much pain, that now he isn’t anymore. I have to hope that the solution that he came to was at least that: a solution. Was it the right solution? No. Not in my opinion and not in the opinion of anyone who knew him. The world would be an extraordinarily better place if he were still in it. I just wish he would have known that.
Garrett Janos and I met at church. He was drumming in the band and I was doing techie things. We clicked pretty quickly and I soon discovered that Garrett was so many things: kind, hilarious, and an amazing drummer. He always showed up when you needed him to, and he was never one to turn down an adventure. In fact, there were very few times when JH and I drove around with him in the daylight, now that I’m thinking about it. It was always about midnight runs to places, even if that place was the video store, where the three of us would come to befriend the manager and get free DVDs for the week, just for the love of movies. Garrett loved movies. He loved any form of creativity. And he was generous with his abilities.
The very first logo that this blog had was a black-and-white image of my face with a giant old-timey mustache and buckteeth. Garrett created that image one day when he was bored. He made different ones for a few friends and sent them off to us with a smile. When Awkwardly Alive and Pleasantly Peculiar was born, I knew there was no other image I could use for my logo. Since then, it has been revised and spruced up a bit, but the theme has stayed the same.
When my YouTube show, Page Break, was created, Garrett loved it so much that he sent me a sketch he started working on just out of the blue. That sketch became our logo for the show. Garrett wouldn’t let us pay him for it. That’s just how he was.
Garrett was loved. He was important.
And so are you.
So please, if you’re considering suicide or if you’re suffering from depression, please reach out. Call a suicide hotline. Tell a friend or family member. If you’re in school, it’s likely that there is a free clinic where you can go and talk to someone. Go read Jenny Lawson’s posts on how depression lies, because that’s what it does: it lies. It’s really good at it and it’s incredibly convincing, but you have to remember that depression is lying to you.
You have to remember that you are loved. You are important.
And if you’ve ever lost someone to suicide before… how did you manage? What do I do?
A foundation has been started in Garrett Janos’s name to help fight mental illness. Donations can be made and more information can be found here. If you have anything to give, we really, really appreciate it. Let’s see if we can grow a few flowers from all of this dirt.
The mustachioed images he created of me (top), “John Hamm” (bottom), and himself (right).