In February 2015, I should have been fine. I had a great job, a good wife, and a handsome and sweet one-year-old son. But I was in the tightest grips of depression I had ever experienced. Faking it wasn’t working anymore, and the energy to carry on healthy conversations or live normally was well beyond my capacity. I was sinking, and fast.
It was the first time I fully understood wanting to commit suicide. I firmly believed that everyone and everything in my life would be better without, well, me. My wife would move on. My son wouldn’t remember me as he was too young. My friends and family would feel the weight of my burden on them lifted and secretly be relieved. Or so I thought.
I developed a suicide plan. One day, something pushed me over the edge, and I was ready to put my plan into action. As I started logging off work early so I could commit suicide, I had an instant message pop up on my screen. A good friend and colleague wanted to have a coffee. I said she did not want to have coffee with me as I would be horrible company. She persisted, and I finally explained the real reason why I couldn’t have coffee with her now.
She immediately drove me to the hospital. She didn’t trust that I would go on my own. She was right; I wanted her to leave so I could bolt and continue my plan. She stayed with me as I waited for hours in the emergency room of the hospital to see if I would be admitted or released. Another friend came and relieved her when she had to leave. And lastly, my father from out of town arrived to sit by my side. I was never alone from when I shared my plan to commit suicide until I was admitted.
During my week long stay in the hospital, I learned an important lesson: gratitude. I began to improve because I started feeling grateful for my family, my friends, and the love they had shared – and would share going forward, if I gave them a chance. And I started to believe, with a tiny, flickering flame of hope, that maybe, just maybe, I did something good to deserve this great circle that surrounded me. Maybe it wasn’t a fluke, and maybe I wasn’t the burden I told myself I was to them all.
Since 2015, I have not been immune to depression. But when it rears its dark, twisted face, I remember gratitude, and focus on the great people who surround me. I will forever be grateful to those who helped me and to those friends and family who I know, today, would serve as a safety net to catch me if I fall so low again. Without gratitude, and the actions that created gratefulness, I might not be around today to see the beauty of my now three-year-old son’s smile. Gratitude helped save my life.
We invite you to share a story about yourself or another person, reflecting on the question: “How has gratefulness shifted a moment, an experience, or a lifetime?”