2015 has been an interesting and tough year.
For some of us more than others. I know this year has and still is testing my resilience, my heart and it’s clearly not letting up on teaching me to the very end of 2015. I am a caterpillar this year, doing lots of work, trying to grow more than I have in a long time, sometimes not by choice.
I just found out a coworker of mine died on Boxing day about an hour ago. He committed suicide, another coworker whispered to me.
I’m still in shock. I don’t know what to do but write about it. Even though I’m still processing it. Which I HATE doing because I feel as though I should have it figured out before I try and talk about it because figuring it out as you write doesn’t happen often for me if ever especially when it’s dealing with emotions and trying to make sense of them.
The whispering. There was a lot of whispering as far as this coworker was concerned. I have known him for a long time and saw the eventual unravelling of him. There were whispers of a drinking problem. There were whispers and often the whispers were negative.
I didn’t participate in the whispering. I was too busy with my own shit. Though I didn’t really contribute to it, I also failed to reach out when I noticed something wasn’t quite right. This is a wake up call to myself. And maybe to you. To everyone.
Aren’t we all guilty of this? Aren’t we all guilty of being preoccupied with the events of our own lives sometimes it’s like having blinders on? It’s hard to maintain a balance of things in your own life. But maybe we need to look around occasionally. It might even distract us from our own issues, problems and events in our life to think about something else or someone else for a second. Grant temporary reprieve from our own problems, if even for a little while. I like taking breaks, don’t you?
I’d like to take this as a moment of reflection to say two things.
The first being, if you’re sad and things are hard and you’re struggling and feel alone and overwhelmed as we all do in our lives. Please talk to someone. Anyone. If you don’t want to talk, there are resources all around. There are subreddits on Reddit, where many people talk about the stresses in their life and depression. Go there, read things, maybe you will realize you’re not as alone as you thought and someone understands and is going through something similar.
Depression, comes in many forms other than being a perpetual chemical issue. I have been stressed and realized longterm or chronic stress turns into a sometimes short term depression. I have been depressed over the death of loved ones, relationships (family, friends, romantic, coworkers, etc) my health, my career, finances. I can usually handle a setbacks in few areas. But come at me all at once in ALL those Areas at the SAME time? Well, things get hard and I start come undone to lose my shit. We all do. We are only human can only juggle so much.
We can all handle a few areas in our life being out of whack, but sometimes, all at once, life likes to take a steaming hot shit all over EVERY area of your life and that’s when it makes it hard to bear everything at once and ever area of your life seems to be crumbling.
It’s like the last straw that broke the camel’s back. There’s no shame in realizing we can’t always bear the load alone. Everyone needs help at times. Please reach out. If you can’t, then just go read. Though I am not clinically depressed don’t understand everything about depression, I have had friends who were tell me Reddit helped them feel less alone and deal with some fears.
Secondly, we knew this coworker had some issues. I myself had smelled alcohol on his breath the few times I bumped into him in the past year. I felt someone else surely had noticed it and should deal with it (like people in his unit, his boss) and it was none of my business. Were we all passing the buck around?
Though it was none of my business and professional formalities prevented me from getting involved, I realize those were signs that I didn’t have to care about the shit on a professional level. BUT I should have just cared on a personal level as I had known this coworker for eons and should have just asked this person if he was OK, maybe let him know someone cared enough to ask. He obviously wasn’t fine as things from his personal life were overflowing into his work life and it was clear it no longer manageable.
Plainly, something was hurting so much that he was trying to numb it out with alcohol even when he was at work. How did my workplace turn into a place of hate and judgement or indifference and ambivalence when we should have offered compassion? To me that is heartbreaking. We didnt just fail him, we failed ourselves and humanity.
Looking back in retrospect, anytime this coworkers name popped up, there was whispering, snickering and alot of negativity. I ignored it by not participating and often sticking to the subject at hand, maybe this is where self absorption saved the day for once by not adding to the fray.
I wonder what it must have been like for this person to endure such a toxic workplace and feel sad for him that he was obviously struggling alot and must have felt negativity around the office towards him. Thinking about that, and remembering how he was treated makes me sad. This isn’t how I nor anyone would want to be treated if we were having a bad day, month, season or year(s). Why did we treat him like this? So quick to persecute instead of help? What’s wrong with us?!!
I’m not making excuses for anyone (him and us) and I don’t care what your personal feelings on suicide are. I am simply observing this was a person I had known for a long time. I had seen him at his professional prime when we first met and he was a happy and friendly person to the way things were in the past year, it’s clear this person was struggling with things, he didn’t need people judging him or unkindness on top of the personal problems he was trying to deal with. The thing is everyone’s dealing with something.
We often forget that we all have our own personal brand of BS. That that guy behind you at Starbucks, the girl on the train standing in front of you or the ahole that’s road raging during rush hour are all dealing with something.
The thing is, some days are better than others. If there are alot of days in a row where it’s always a rainy day, then maybe something is not right and we should talk to someone. Anyone.
I know that sometimes there aren’t alway signs that someone is struggling hard with life and contemplating suicide. But sometimes people just need to know someone cares about them. Life can weigh down on all of us and it can get pretty lonely when you’re struggling with things all on your own. But there are people who care, we might just not realize because we are thick in the fog of depression.
We, as outsiders have a choice to either be a fellow Whisperer and further perpetuate the bullshit OR we can offer kindness and maybe offer a hand and help pick someone else up when they are at their lowest.
It only takes 4 words : “Hey, are you okay?” I think we can all manage this by being more alert in regards to one another. Let this be a lesson to us all to be a little kinder to one another and not be afraid to reach out.
If your life has been touched by a suicide I really feel for you, especially if it was with someone dear and close to you. It leaves so many questions and complicated emotions for loved ones left behind to try and pick up the pieces and figure out what was going on in addition to dealing with death. I hope you find some peace and love in their memory.
Rest in Peace, Fred.