Editor’s Note: I used an old picture of Jordan because that’s how I remember him: happy, confident and goofy.
In between stories, I scroll through Facebook to make sure I’m not missing any major news going on in Washington County or Hagerstown.
Ice filled my veins as a post from an old high school friend appeared.
It seemed too familiar; a suicide note, a frantic attempt to call paramedics and then, it was too late. Jordan, just like four other Williamsport kids I could recall in recent years, had committed suicide.
This, of course, bothered me and so many others because he seemed fine, but personally, it bothered me because I have felt the exact same way he described in his note. His words seared into my heart and made my eyes sting.
“It wasn’t drugs. It wasn’t money. It wasn’t alcohol. It was pain,” he said.
Pain. The kind of pain that feels like it’s been pumped into your body at warp speed while it explodes into every cell.
The kind of pain that poisons your brain into thinking life will never become sunny again.
The kind of pain that doesn’t respond to “Time heals all wounds” or “It gets better,” because it’s much smarter and more sinister than those old lines.
I live with that pain every day. If you read my blog, it’s no secret that I struggle with anxiety, depression and, in the past, suicidal thoughts. It took a long time for me to even acknowledge I had these because I was so afraid of being considered “crazy,” but it took a full-on mental breakdown (we’re talking me finally giving up a hunger strike at Meritus and missing two and a half weeks of work) to realize that there are much worse things in life than coming to terms with being sick. It doesn’t make you weak or weird; it makes you brave.
Jordan and I hadn’t spoken in years. We followed each other on all social media and said “hello” when we saw each other out, but we hadn’t really had a full conversation since high school. But for some reason, I’m feeling survivor’s guilt. I know there’s no way I or anyone close to him could have known what was going on in his head, but I just wish that he knew what I know now, which is it’s okay to be sick and the people you love can carry you while you’re weak.
I think about how society still stigmatizes mental illness because its damage can’t be seen, like a broken arm or a case of pneumonia.
I remember someone once told me that I’m lucky I wasn’t fired after missing all that time off work when I “snapped,” and I remember laughing, thinking, “Does this person not know that I wouldn’t have cared at all if I got fired at the time? I had wayyyyy bigger fish to fry than losing a job,” but that’s just it, people really don’t understand, but we can help them understand.
We are making progress with mainstream artists like Logic writing songs about surviving suicidal ideations, but plenty of people still think that “sucking it up” will curb the pain.
What I want is for people — if they’re comfortable and have healed to the point where they can without being triggered — to shed light on their dark moments, rock bottoms, and suicidal thoughts from the past. The more people bring it into the light, the less scary it becomes. We give these things too much power by whispering about them behind closed doors instead of opening our hearts and letting another person know they’re not alone. I want to reach more Jordans, and I want others to understand what Jordan was going through without passing judgment.
I am a reporter/anchor. I love my job. I like being on TV and putting on makeup and doing my hair and reading stories about puppies, but I deal with depression and anxiety every day. I constantly worry that I’m going to mess up my life and I’ll be miserable forever. I wonder if I’m not good enough. I’ve wanted to die.
But, I have a therapist. I take medication. I am surrounded by so many people who love me, and I have hope because there are so many good things in life. If you judge me for that, maybe it would surprise you to know that roughly 1 in 3 Americans are on antidepressants.
The worst moments, just like the strongest riptide, will pass — you just have to hold on for dear life and close your eyes, because you can weather the storm.
Jordan, I’m so sorry that the pain was too much.
IF you feel that you’re ready to talk about a time when you felt like this, please share your story. There is strength in numbers.
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255