Nothing can ever prepare you for this.

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.

My ButtonThe 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.

pagebreaklogo

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).

The mustachioed images he created of me (top), “John Hamm” (bottom), and himself (right).

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18 Responses to Nothing can ever prepare you for this.

  1. Heather says:

    This was…a hard read but I think well written. I’m so sorry for your loss, I wish I had something more to say than that. I hope this reaches someone(s) that needs to read it.

  2. Clint Cravens says:

    E, thank you for writing this. It has been a hard week trying to understand. Garrett was an amazing man! Much love to you! C

  3. Grace says:

    Thank you for sharing with such honesty! Garrett’s creativity was such a gift!

  4. Colleen says:

    Honey, I am so sorry. He sounds like a wonderful lovely person that I am sad that I will never get to meet. Know that I am holding you and all who loved him in my heart right now. And know that this blog post is a beautiful testimont to him that brought me to tears. I’m sure that this piece will touch lots of people and potentially enable someone to be #26. Love you deary. Let me know if I can do anything for you during this time. xoxo From my experience, grief is the most intense of human emotions, and the best thing to do it is let it wash over you. It will came in waves and when the wave hits a crest, it may feel too much to bear, but just like the waves of the sea, it will eb and flow. Love. Love. Love. Light. Prayers. And lots of healing energy.

  5. Sara Strauss says:

    Emelie, I’m so so sorry that you’re going through this and that you lost a friend. There really is nothing worse than losing someone you love. I wish I could give you a hug right now!
    ~Sara

  6. Mike Wise says:

    THANK YOU! Thank you for sharing the real deal.

    “… 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.”

  7. Kate says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. This is beautifully written and I hope it helped you to write it. Sending love and hugs.

  8. Kayly Nyman says:

    I am so, so sorry for your loss. This was beautifully written, and honest. I do hope it touches those that need it!

  9. Nadia Lynn says:

    God this is real! Garrett was such a beautiful soul that I’m just so confused by all of this. I have so many questions to the point that It really baffles me and with that said. REACH OUT YOU ARE SO LOVED. I’ve been in the place where your pride doesn’t allow you to talk. However you must. Tell your closest friend. Tell a hotline. You won’t be judged you will be saved because once again YOU ARE LOVED

  10. Florence says:

    Emelie, We are so terribly sorry for your loss. We know the pain of losing a dear friend, but losing one to something that’s almost impossible to understand makes it that much more painful. You’ve written a beautiful and heartfelt message, which we hope reaches those who need the love and support they think isn’t there. It is. You’ve proved it. Hugs to you.

  11. Julie says:

    Emelie…..my father and my husband both committed suicide. I went to a therapist and was TOTALLY surprised when I found out that not EVERY SINGLE PERSON wakes up EVERY SINGLE DAY thinking about taking their life, because I do. I believe that my dad and husband are infinitely happier today than they were yesterday. I have to kick myself in the butt EVERY DAY to remember that I really am happier ALIVE! I WANT TO LIVE AND LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST!!!! It’s a struggle every day, and hopefully I’ll win. Please, anyone that’s reading this, people who commit suicide aren’t doing it out of self-pity, or attention, I believe that they believe life will be better and for me to get through the death of my father and husband, I believe for them it is better. <3

  12. Terry Jesse England says:

    My heart aches for you and your family. I have learned to live with my mothers suicide, but, I can’t say the pain is gone. Guilt for not understanding what was going on with her, continues.
    I hate to hear people say they don’t know why someone would want to hurt themselves. I can say with wisdom and experience that no one does it to hurt themselves. It’s to stop an unbearable pain that gos on and on getting worse daily.
    What ever Garrett’s pain was, it’s finally gone. I believe God is full of mercy for those that make this decision. For them, at that point, it’s not a choice.
    We tend to think of the pain in our heart when we’re faced with this and we forget to remember that we are promised life eternal with Jesus. As I age I am more aware of the Victory over death and for me, I hurt, but, for the one that has gone on, I celebrate that victory.
    Big hugs.

  13. June Z. says:

    I lost my daughter to suicide almost 7 months ago. God has walked me through every step. His voice has kept me filled with the blessed hope that I will have eternity to spend with her & that our time on earth is but a moment in time. According to 2 Cor. 12:9 God’s strength was made perfect in my daughter’s weakness. I believe His Word. I also believe Garrett is up there playing his drums for the heavenly crowds! Our loss is heaven’s gain.

  14. sy says:

    Garrett was such a phenomenal human being. He was kind and earnest and enthusiastic, and he will be sorely missed by those who knew him best. I only knew him peripherally, from work, but I remember his attitude and his heart vividly. Thanks for being such a good person, Garrett.

  15. Carrie Rubin says:

    So sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. I’m sure it’s very difficult to process. It’s good of you to put those links at the end of the post. You never know who might stop by and need them.

  16. A Friend says:

    The pain you feel for your friend, it takes a long long time to get over. I lost a friend freshman year of undergrad to suicide and years later, I am still not the same. I analyzed everything. I didn’t understand how we were able to get him help, thought he was doing better once we got him out of the dorms and home to his family and told his mom about the help he needed. But then, one of us found out what happened and we had to tell our RA and a series of events spiraled out of that. It changed me like nothing has ever changed me before or since. It opened up my eyes to this evil that lurks. I am not sure if I learned much other than life is short. I think about my friend every sunny day when the sun is shining on me and I am so sad he isn’t here experiencing that. But I hope he found his peace up there. I’ve done a lot of things to help keep his memory alive. Started walks in his honor, raised thousands of dollars in his name over the years. I like to think I made this tragedy into something positive. The money for the Out of the Darkness Walks go to neighbors and friends in need for help and for research. If you don’t have one of those by you, start one. Join some kind of group that deals with suicide or trains people to help those in need via a hotline. Do anything positive you can to make it feel like its justified. You will find a way out of the hole, but it will take awhile, be prepared. You will never be the same but you will smile and you will remember.

  17. suzy says:

    Thank you for writing this..I’ll be sure to save this and forward it to others.

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