Something’s been on my mind this year. Something dark and heavy.
It’s been crushing my skull down into the ground with its painful, menacing force, threatening to flood my sight with darkness, my mind with hopelessness, and wrap its cold slithering fingers around my throat tight until it squeezes the life out of me.
It’s been pushing me deeper and deeper into the ground, into its cold dark suffocating possession, burying me under its weight, forcing me to surrender, to give up, to just accept defeat.
It made me want to die. To see no choice ahead but to accept the end of my life.
Just a few weeks ago.
I lay there in my bed, day after day, scared to move in case I acted on one of the many ways I thought about ending my life. I didn’t know if I’d make it through this time.
It’s not the first time I felt this way, and even if I made it, it probably wasn’t going to be the last. But in that moment, I felt lost, alone, already gone.
Death is grounding. It connects us back to the source of life. And depression brings us closer and closer to the truth of our roots, if we let it. Dwelling on a past long gone, I asked myself, where did I come from, how did I get here, what do I know that I can count on? Am I even real?
Death and depression are rooting, humbling, balancing. A natural part of life. To avoid them is to live a life half-lived.
Every phoenix needs ashes to rise from. Every seed needs soil to embrace its birth. Every human needs sadness to experience joy.
I’ve been through this before, so I know I’ll come out of it, but I never do it alone. There are people in this very room who saw me buried under the weight of my own darkness, and offered me an embrace to help me rise out of it again.
Every stem needs roots to help it stand up straight in the ground. And roots need dark, rich soil to hold onto.
Death is a natural part of life. In nature, death is the natural progression of life. But in our society, we only talk about life, about happiness, about growth, more growth, even more growth. We never talk about the other side of life.
But we can never escape nature. And leaving half of life in the dark can never allow us to come full circle. A spiral has much more stability than a long straight stem.
Every single cell in our bodies dies and reforms in a 7 year span. What if we stopped looking at our lives as one long straight lifespan and started looking at it as a number of reincarnations, reborn and reformed, within the lifetime of one consciousness. Do you feel like the same person you were 7 years ago? Or when you were 7? I don’t.
Because I’m not the same me I was then, and why would I want to be?
But I would never have become who I am today without allowing myself to die, over and over and over again.
So why are we so scared to talk about death, depression or suicide? Why don’t we see it as an opportunity — to ground ourselves, to connect with each other, to be reborn?
Why do we hide ourselves away when we feel the dark crushing weight take over our minds? What if we embraced each other in those moments like a cocoon holding space for transformation? Holding our roots like the dark soil that no stem can rise out of by itself?
Why don’t we congratulate each other and measure our success as beings in how many reincarnations we survive within the span of one human life?
Why don’t we stop feeling scared of talking about the darker side of life with each other, right here, right now, in this room?
What story about your own darkness would you stand up and share in this very moment, if you knew everyone around you was holding you keeping you safe until you could rise out of your own ashes again?
Go on, hold someone's hand and let them know they're safe. Think of what you'd tell them, if you weren't scared.
Darkness is cold, heavy, suffocating, and scary. But it doesn’t have to be isolating.
Suicide has the power to define your life — by forming a very thin, sharp line around its outer edge. You won't see it unless you're looking for it or someone points it out.
I’ve been there. I know some of you have too.
So, starting tonight, as it gets dark outside, can we create a safe space inside our communities, to share the darkness within ourselves? Please, can we hold this space for each other? Can we find safety in each other when we don't find it within?
Can we start talking about our darkness, before it actually strangles us to death?
What would you tell the person holding your hand if you weren't scared?
I hope you will.
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Originally shared with a live audience at THNK FSTVL in Amsterdam on October 20, 2017. Watch the video here.