Recently at work we lost a young man who had lost all hope and thought there was no other way out of his inner pain. His mom worked at the store where I work before I started. He was born in December of 1994 and I started working there in August of 1995. He was just a baby when I first met him. I watched him grow as she brought him grocery shopping and to events. Before I knew it, he was a young man coming to work as a cashier. At first I didn’t recognize him; he had grown up so fast. He had a nice smile and was easy to talk to. I enjoyed conversations with him and joking around in between customers. When he moved to another department, I still enjoyed casual talk. Now he’s gone.
I didn’t know. Many of us didn’t know of the demons that haunted his soul or the deep pain that etched is fingers within him. He put on a smile. He talked and he laughed with us all, hiding the deep darkness and pain lurking within. I know from experience that when struggling with mental health problems, many put on a disguise. Why? There is a lot of stigma to the illness and this causes fear of judgement in those suffering with it.
I know when I struggled I hid my pain and suffering because I feared what others would think of me. I didn’t want to be judged by my family and peers. I also hid my pain because I couldn’t explain it and I didn’t want to hurt anyone with my suffering. I felt like I was the only one in the world suffering. No one on earth could understand what was happening to me. Maybe that is what my co-worker felt. I will never know. Maybe he had his own reasons.
The question many of my fellow employees and I’m sure his family and friends are asking is, “What happened to make him want to take his life?”
No one can answer that question, but him. He took that with him. Could it be one thing? Could it be several things happening over time? Could it just have been a chemical imbalance in his brain? No one knows.
I have tried suicide in the past and luckily I didn’t succeed. It wasn’t just one thing the first time. I had been struggling with depression and thoughts of dying throughout my school years, but when my cousin was killed in an accident, I hit the very bottom of my hole. I graduated from high school and moved in with my grandparents, and a friend began to abuse me. I felt dark and hopeless inside. My soul and heart ached with so much pain that no matter what I did, nothing could relieve it. I just wanted it to end. My life was nothing, but a dark endless hole of unspeakable anguish. I thought I had no reason to live and that my family would be better off without me. I couldn’t see beyond my own suffering.
The second time I got sick when it seemed like everything in my life was going great. I had friends, I was living on my own with a roommate, and I was dating. A psychiatrist said I had a chemical imbalance. I moved in with my boyfriend. The more depressed and hopeless I became, the more controlling and abusive he became. One night I was taking a friend home, and I walked into the middle of a road as a car was coming. I just wanted to die, but my friend pulled me to the side of the road.
Was it like this for my co-worker? He had lost a child a while back. The child was born with health problems. Could that have triggered his inner pain or was it more? The one thing I do know was he was suffering, suffering more deeply than anyone could ever understand. He was in a very dark place. When you’re ready to die, to end the life God gave you, you have lost all hope for happiness, you have lost your strength to fight and you hurt so bad that nothing eases it. No hug can make the inner pain go away, nor a funny movie, nor kind words from loved ones, nor the sunshine, and not even the love of family and friends. You are screaming inside, crying and begging for it all just to end.
What my co-worker couldn’t see was that the pain can end and there is help. There are healthy ways to cope and medications that can stabilize the chemicals in the mind to give relief to some of the symptoms. There are therapists who can help find ways to cope, who can help teach new ways of thinking, and to talk to. There is help. Maybe he didn’t know there was help, maybe he thought he could handle it on his own, and maybe he was afraid to ask for help. Only God knows. The questions will remain unanswered. The only thing that can provide comfort is, knowing he is no longer struggling and hurting, and he is free.
All of us who knew him and loved him are left with heartache and questions. His mom, brothers, dad, and other family members are devastated. Their hearts are shattered, their lives forever changed, and some may need therapy to get through this. Their lives are not better without him. His pain is gone, but theirs will linger on. They provided grief counseling for his fellow employees, and his friends are also hurting. He’s free, but his family and friends aren’t. He didn’t know how much he would hurt his family and friends. I believe he’s in heaven looking down on his loved ones saying he’s sorry and watching over them while they grieve.
Suicide is not the answer to end your pain and deep darkness. Your life is worth living and help is out there. You’re not alone. Reach out to someone, anyone you can trust and ask for help. Don’t suffer alone. There are therapists, psychiatrists, crisis lines, and support groups. You may even find the people you think won’t understand and who will judge you are the people who will stick with you. Recovery is possible. Don’t give up on living; fight for the light, for a new chance at life, for happiness, for your family, and for yourself. Live your beautiful life, because even though you can’t see it, it is wonderful.
Andrew is the name of my co-work who passed. For the longest time I couldn’t stop thinking about how he suffered inside. I wish I could have told him that recovery is possible, but I never got that chance. Fly high Andrew; fly in God’s light and in his kingdom. You will never be forgotten.
I believe I’m alive so I can share my story and help others. I’m here to tell others how to find the light so they can dance within it with me.
In memory of Andrew Lyons November 15, 2019, rest in peace my friend.