September 15, 2017

Dear Hopeless One.

Dear Hopeless One,

I cannot give you the power to bring yourself to light, but I can share my journey and, within it, hopefully, you find the energy to be powerful.

Eight months ago, at the age of 35 and by my own hand, I was hanging by my neck with every will to cease living. The courage was enormous. I began to feel light-headed and the calm of death seemed so peaceful and inviting.

This is what I desired and I could taste it.

But, the universe intervened—or, at least, my cats did. They sat beneath me crying, willing me to stop. Staring into their lucid eyes was enough to bring me crashing back into reality. And so, I lifted myself out of the noose and I filled with anger at their interference.

For as long as I can recall, I have felt without purpose. I have wished for an illness to erase me from my existence and lamented the fact that I was born.

Life did not have a purpose. Life did not have joy or peace. Life was a cancer that I could not reconcile and, yet, it was an obstacle I continued to endure.

I was finally diagnosed with a mental illness at the age of 16, following my first suicide attempt. According to those in the know, I had temporal lobe epilepsy and clinical depression. I found my adolescent self on a myriad of medications and, as the years progressed, those medications simply rotated shifts. One would reach the end of its abilities to trick my brain and another would hit the shelves.

I was grey; a dull windup toy marching forward in no particular direction.

I had tried so hard to find a purpose. I had explored all aspects of life—its natural beauty, its sordid shadows.

Nothing provided long-term contentment. Nothing resonated beyond the superficial.

I desperately wanted to find that courage to hang again—only this time, with the cats locked away. But I could not find it. The limbo was the worst I had felt in my 35 years of life. My psychologist suggested hospitalisation, which I immediately dismissed.

What would a month in a hospital really change? It could not give me purpose. It certainly would not do any more than 20 years of Western medical intervention.

She then suggested yoga—a suggestion that I scoffed at. “I’d rather go to a hospital,” I said.

But, the limbo persisted. I could not die and I could not live. So, I took the plunge and went to a yoga class.

I found a spiritual studio. Through the veil of my social anxiety, even this daunting space was welcoming. No one cared if I could touch my toes or if I was depressed, rich, dying, or in love. I was simply a soul on the mat, practicing yoga.

I enrolled in a meditation course and it was here, in this quiet contemplation, that I had an awakening. For the first time in my life, quite suddenly, I did not feel alone. I felt entirely connected to every aspect of life in the universe. I felt as if everything around me, both past and future, was all a part of me as much as I was a part of all of it.

I felt that the happiness that I saw in every person that I envied or despised was, in fact, my happiness. I cannot succinctly explain this feeling but, in that moment, I knew that 35 years of desperate isolation had ceased to be permanent. My desire to die evaporated, and in its place was a curiosity to feel a peace that I had so longed for but could never hold.

I’m not suggesting you’re going to feel the same awakening, but there is an amazing beauty in wanting to die—you have nothing to lose. You have nothing to lose by trying.

And, let’s be clear, the path to peace and happiness was not immediate and it is still ongoing. I practice yoga every day and, still, I feel sadness, depression, anxiety, and self-loathing.

But, my dear friend, it has become infrequent and, when it is there, I know it will pass. Because in the chronicles of yoga is the knowledge that all suffering is entirely transient—should we chose for it to be so. Just know that no matter how desperate you are, no matter how much you want to die and are tired of attempting to live, you could be one yoga class away from intoxicating peace—and it is a joy to live this peace.

What you need to do requires energy. It always does, and this is the hardest part when in the depths of deathly desire. But, what you need is also what you deserve.

So, find a local yoga studio, one that offers meditation and an authentic yogic path. Speak your truth. Do not hide from your torment.

You have nothing to lose. There is hope.

There will always be hope.


Author: Stuart Williams
Image: Tanja Heffner/Unsplash
Editor: Leah Sugerman
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Social Editor: Nicole Cameron

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