I’ve been trying to write a blog for my company site for the last hour… and all I can think is… fuck.

I lost a friend today. Completely out of the blue, like I suppose most cases of this are. I was sitting in a cafe, waiting to meet with a possible new client. She was running a few minutes late, so I decided to check my phone.

I shouldn’t have. I’m pretty sure I’ll always remember this moment: sitting in that cafe, looking up to see my possible new client walk in, the exact second I’d read that my friend had passed. I was in shock. The client said hello, and I, really unprofessionally, threw all decorum out the window and explained what had just happened. She expressed her condolences and asked if I’d rather meet on another day, but I said I would be okay, and tried to soldier on. Of course, at that moment (with my twisted gypsy luck in full effect) I also got something in my eye, and had to rub to try and get it out (honestly, it felt like a chunk of gravel). She saw that and asked again if I was okay, to which I laughed it all off and said yes, it was only something in my eye.

I think the rest of the meeting went okay. I know I completely stumbled a few questions that ordinarily I could answer in my sleep, but I’ve answered these questions enough times that I powered through it. I think the meeting went okay. The possible client requested more information from me and another meeting with contracts, so I guess I did well on autopilot.

I came home. My cat was waiting for me, and as I slunk down on the couch, she immediately jumped up beside me and looked at me. She gave me a curious meow and curled up on my lap. The rest of the afternoon is pretty much a blur.

I didn’t know what had happened to my friend other than the one final fact. I tried to find answers, but none were available. I had a horrible feeling that I couldn’t shake but didn’t want to give voice to.

A few hours later, my feeling was proved right. A brief message from a mutual stranger. Suicide, or an OD.

How do you process that? Here’s your friend that you used to spend hours and hours hanging out with, smiling, laughing, commiserating with… and now they’re gone. Forever.

How does anyone make that decision? To end… everything?

A few days ago, I wrote about the Bell Let’s Talk Day.. and maybe I wasn’t entirely honest. I said I had no idea what it was like to deal with a mental illness. That’s probably true. I hope so, at least. The truth is? I’ve gone through some really, really dark times. I’ve been depressed for weeks and months. I’ve had periods where what I was going through left me unable to sleep or eat and honestly wondering what the point of sticking around for more agony tomorrow was. I’ve stood at the edge of the 6th storey patio at midnight and thought that maybe with just a little gust of wind..

Fun fact: When I was in grade 6, I gave a speech to my entire elementary school on suicide. Grade 6. The teachers pulled me aside after I’d spoken and asked if I was all right. I laughed and told them it was only a speech. Jokers, aren’t we all?

The thing is, I don’t get suicide. Never have. Yeah, I get saying fuck it – I want nothing to do with any of this anymore. I don’t want the pain or the struggles or the fucking fear and sorrow stabbing the black remains of my shattered heart anymore. I don’t want to have to pretend anymore. What I don’t get though, is being that cowardly. I cannot, for one second, imagine what the hell my dad would do if I ever did something like that. What would my friends do? How would they feel? How could I do that to any of them?

The other thing I don’t get? Giving up. Like I said earlier, I’ve dealt with a few things. Some of them still haunt me today. That’s fine – but I never have and never will let them beat me. Life can, and has, and will, knock me down. I know that. I’ve never been the tallest, the biggest or fastest kid in any of my groups of friends. I got bullied, and I was a bully. I didn’t get into university right away and watched all my friends leave our small town while I was in a dead end mill job saving for tomorrow. My family? Well that’s just a swell story, and nothing I’ll write about here. Problems, I’ve had them. Just like you and everyone else.

I’ve buried friends, I’ve buried family. When I was barely old enough to know what death was, I was already holding a shovel.

We struggle on. It’s all I know.

This isn’t meant as a knock against anyone that has committed or attempted suicide. Each person’s struggles are their own, and it’s impossible to know what goes on in someone’s heart in the middle of their darkest night. My only wish is that any person in that situation would reach out to one more person. There’s always something worth living for, no matter how bad the situation may be. No matter how low, how sad, how depressed or unloved you feel, once you’re gone, you will be missed. You’ll never have a chance to make things better. You’ll never get another hug. You’ll never prove everyone that doubted you or knocked you down wrong. You’ll never prove to yourself that you were right, and that you’re worth being loved. These are feelings that are worth waking up in the morning for.

The fact that I knew nothing about what was going on with my friend and the internal struggles raging gets to me. Could I have stopped this from happening? Would my friend have even confided in me what demons were whispering? I don’t know. I know I would have tried.

So there it is. I can’t help my friend anymore. But you can help. You can help your friend, your family, or yourself. Depression’s real. It’s there. It wears a whole lot of masks and it doesn’t always make itself the easiest to spot – but it’s our job as good people to see it, and do something about it.

Talk to someone. Share your story. Reach out. It will get better – all you have to do is get back up again.

If you need help, check out people a lot smarter than me at : www.cmha.ca .