I know most articles like this have an agenda. They want you to call a hotline, tell a total stranger that you’re at the end of your rope, and make the impossible decision to carry on, as if you haven’t contemplated doing these things before.
That isn’t my agenda here. Not today, anyway.
My agenda is simple — I don’t want you to be alone. If these are truly your last moments on this earth (and I’ll be honest, I really hope they aren’t), I at least want you to know that someone was thinking of you.
When I attempted suicide about a decade ago, it was the loneliest night of my life.
It was the loudest silence I’d ever known. I could hear the kitchen clock ticking faithfully downstairs; I listened for the strange, indescribable static you sometimes hear even when everything else goes quiet.
I was on that strange precipice, when you realize you could make a running jump, and no one would be there to stop you or catch you. That the tree falling in the forest really doesn’t make a sound, for all intents and purposes.
That is a very scary place to be, especially when you’re staring it down alone.
If I could, I would sit next to you.
We wouldn’t have to talk, because I know that sometimes, there’s nothing left to say. But we could stare down the quiet together, fill it with shared breaths or, if you wanted, quiet conversation. You could tell me what hurts, or not. You could tell me what brought you here, or not.
I would want to be there because no one should have to sit with this kind of pain alone.
This is the closest I can come to being there with you.
I want you to know in this moment that you mattered enough for a stranger like me to wish himself into your life, just to sit in this moment with you.
I would put a heavy blanket on your shoulders (this has always calmed me down just a little), maybe even read to you (I really like “The Little Prince,” but whatever books you like are okay with me, too). And I would say to you what I wish someone had said to me ten or so years ago: that I wasn’t crazy, that my feelings were valid, and that I wasn’t wrong or bad to have them.
Are you listening? Okay.
You aren’t crazy. Your feelings are valid. And you aren’t wrong, or bad, or shameful, or f*cked up for feeling the way that you do.
I know what it’s like to feel trapped in-between.
Fearful of living the rest of your life with this kind of unbearable pain, like an anchor permanently tied to your chest, but also fearful of what happens if you step off that ledge and into the dark unknown.
Is something waiting for us there? I don’t think any of us really know.
To be trapped in-between in this great fear is an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It’s a wonder that any of us make it out of those nights alive. It’s a wonder that any of us feel that way, and somehow survive, and make it to the other side.
I can’t explain to you how that happens, except to say that it happened to me, and I hope like hell it happens to you.
I am writing to you from the other side. My other side looks like this: I’m sitting by a big, sunny window overlooking a vegetable garden in Oregon — a place I never thought I’d live — with my two cats (Pancake and Cannoli) playfully chasing one another, darting underneath my chair.
I like to look out at the garden when I write, because it reminds me that there’s a season for everything (for loss, for breaking through, for opening up), and that it’s never too late to reseed, reset, and regrow.
I tried to end my life a decade ago. But the metaphorical ledge I jumped from evidently wasn’t tall enough, and some force in the universe cushioned the fall, and I woke up. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would be glad one day that I did.
I didn’t plan for this fabled “other side.” Up until that point, it felt as though I’d only ever known pain, and every brief, fleeting happiness slipped out of my hands before I could truly hold it.
I assumed that this was what the rest of my life would look like: disappointment.
But this is the seed that I want to plant, if you’ll let me: Maybe there’s a garden waiting for you in Oregon, or whatever the magical equivalent is for you.
And maybe there’s a Future You, sitting by the window, far away from all of this.
A Future You that can say, “I’m glad I survived,” a Future You that’s in awe of the courage that’s stirring within you right at this very moment. There’s daylight on your face, and an easeful heart beating in your chest, and the knowledge that you are, in fact, stronger than you ever knew.
I know, it might feel trite. Who am I to tell you what the future looks like, anyway? I can only tell you what I know and what I hope for, which is this: I know you deserve to have that future, and I hope that you can muster the impossible courage to stick around for it.
None of us know the future. Every time I tried to predict what it was, I was stupendously wrong. And because humans are fallible, chances are, you’re stupendously wrong, too. (No offense, but that’s human beings for you… not accurate fortune-tellers in the slightest.)
A painful past does not guarantee a hopeless future, and every breath that I take now, I’m reminded of this.
That dark night was supposed to be the end of my life, but it was actually the beginning of a chapter, one that I never could have written for myself.
Are you still here? Phew. I was afraid I was going on about myself too much.
Why am I telling you all of this? Why won’t I just let you go, leave you be? That’s a valid question to ask, especially of a stranger.
And I think it’s because, no matter how many times the world tried to break me, I somehow remain optimistic that we’re all meant to be here. That we deserve the space that we take up here, and we deserve a hopeful future that our past selves couldn’t have recognized.
I believe that when we survive these dark nights, we become part of a living, breathing legacy. We are the reminders that it’s not over yet for any of us. That none of us are lost. None of us are hopeless. And most importantly, none of us are forgotten.
We are the future that says more is possible. We are the living gift, the lesson that human resilience can defy all odds.
I may not know you, but something deep within me knows this: I don’t think it’s a coincidence that you found me here, waiting for you.
I’m sitting with you — albeit with words, from afar — because I want you to know that I believe in your future.
And if that isn’t enough, believe me, I understand. Sometimes, the pain is so great, it seems like nothing could be enough. I won’t pretend to know why the universe saddles some of us with such heavy burdens, and I won’t pretend to know what you can and can’t carry.
But there’s a part of me, hoping your heart can hear mine — reaching across space and time — to tell you that you belong here. I don’t know how you’ll pull through this (only time can reveal that), but I know you deserve to.
And right now, before you close the forever door behind you, I want you to know that until the very end (and I hope it isn’t now, I hope like hell it isn’t), someone refused to give up on you.
I refuse to accept a world that you’re no longer a part of. You matter.
And until this gets better, I’ll be here to keep reminding you.
Hey there, friend. If you aren’t sure what to do next, that’s okay. Let me try to help. I wrote an entire article on how to reach out when you’re in crisis. Hotlines can also be hit or miss, but don’t hesitate to keep calling until you find someone helpful! There’s the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386, or you can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. You can also go to the emergency room. If you’re not sure if you should or how to prepare for something like that, I’ve got an article for that, too. Thank you for sticking with me through to the end — I hope you’ll keep doing that.
Sam Dylan Finch is a resiliency coach, writer, and media strategist based in Portland, Oregon. He’s co-founder of Queer Resilience Collective, a wellness coaching cooperative for LGBTQ+ people, the blogger behind Let’s Queer Things Up!, and the lead editor of mental health and chronic conditions at Healthline.com. You can say hello on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or learn more at SamDylanFinch.com.