This article is in support of Brandi’s #DayOfLight, “bringing depression out of the dark,” on February 5, 2014. The Day of Light is designed to promote suicide awareness through the sharing of personal experiences and resources to ultimately “shine a light on depression.” This is my story:
I had watched this kid go from a suicidal, knife-wielding subject to an innocent little boy who was eager to learn how to grow into a young gentleman. It was an overwhelming feeling, and I hoped that I had as much an impact on his life as he did mine.
The Influence of Depression
Although I didn’t realize it at the time, suicide and depression have played a major role in my life. The statement above is a quote from my book, Service, and it marks the moment of my realization that it was time to separate from law enforcement and move into education. I wanted to help prevent such occurrences before it was too late, and working as a police officer would not allow me to do so. Depression is a terrible disease and can lead to isolation, violent outbursts, and suicide, and sometimes just showing that you care can make the difference between life and death.
As a soldier, I have witnessed the affects of depression on friends while away. As a police officer, I have encountered people in a state of desperation, willing to commit acts of violence against me in hopes of finding an end to their pain. As a teacher, I have worked with students intent on ending their lives. And as a human being who has witnessed all of the above, I have battled my own wars of sadness in the silent depths of my mind. It is from this personal viewpoint that I would like to share my experiences in support of the #DayOfLight.
I have found that since I have witnessed some of the darker aspects of humanity, I have had difficulty embracing a positive view of life at times. It usually comes on gradually, and I can feel it building in my heart and mind. A heaviness starts dragging me down as my thoughts and memories begin to reinforce the negativity that is building. Why is life so cruel? I often ask myself. How can there be so much suffering? I wonder. I withdraw and I grow silent. I focus on the negative and start to lose hope. I question my understanding of this world and wonder why we have things like wars and disease.
I have often tried to talk myself out of these dark times, but find it difficult to argue with my own logic. With each positive thought that surfaces, I find another negative memory or example to drag it back down. I have stopped watching the local news and moved to the mountains. I have withdrawn as best I could from those aspects of society I find terrifying, and have transferred to a much calmer work environment than I am used to. But those thoughts still linger.
Hope for the Future
When I am facing my dark days, I hear a voice in my head telling me to snap out of it. My wife is amazing and beautiful, my son has a beautifully strong personality, and I love our new home. I remember that despite the dark things I have witnessed, I have also observed triumph. I have witnessed the power of love and hope prevail through desperate situations, and that is what gives me strength. The world we live in is a scary and dangerous place. But I have hope and I feel love. I believe we are capable of something better, and I find comfort in knowing I am working towards making that change in hopes that my children can grow up free from the fears of the things I have seen and the sadness that comes with them. It is these thoughts of my children and their peers growing up happy, that keep me going each day, working to bring about change.