Dear Family, Friends, and loved ones, those of you that I know and those of you that I have not had the pleasure of meeting,
I need to start off by thanking each and every single of you for your pivotal role in my development and my journey this far. I could not, quite literally, have gotten here without each and every single one of you. Unfortunately we do not always have control over the role we play in each others lives, sometimes we do great things with the worst of actions and other times we do incredible harm with the best of intentions. Regardless, I am appreciative of your role in my life.
You have all done incredible things, both good and bad, to support me through the difficult times in my life. Without you, I don’t know who I would be. I don’t know where I would be. I don’t know why I would be. Your impact has not gone unnoticed. So Thank You!
As some of you know though, I am not well. Not in the sense that you’re familiar with. You see, I have a terminal illness and any moment, like a sleeper cell, I can disappear from the reality you have always called home. I can disappear either physically and mentally, or just mentally. Either way, I will one day expire, and cease to exist.
Before you freak out, this is not a suicide note. No, I have written plenty of those over the years, and this is nothing like that. Although, as I sign my name on this I know that I will never need to write another letter to explain.
The mere fact that I need to explain fractures my heart and crisp cool air rushes in causing me to shudder. I shouldn’t have to explain my illness. I shouldn’t have to explain that this isn’t about you, nor has it ever been. I shouldn’t have to justify my illness to you or anyone else, despite your place in my heart. But I will try anyways, for the last time.
I wanted to be a doctor as a ten year old. A brain surgeon. I might never know why. I wanted to save lives, but I guess even back then I knew the brain was ultimately where it began and ended. I smile at the irony now. As I grew older I moved closer to saving lives and farther from ever becoming a surgeon. But as time passed I lost both, and I did everything in my power to hold onto myself.
Eventually, I lost it all.
Eventually I lived in a world that looked very much like your own but I was a citizen of a world you will never visit. I lived in my own world and as time went by I left ‘yours’. For a long time I didn’t realize this, and by the time I figured it out it was too late.
I returned to ‘your’ world at the age of seventeen. I returned alone, having lost the only best friend I ever truly knew. I expected your world to embrace me after such a long absence, but instead your world was confused by my visit, having mourned me years before. As I walked through ‘your’ world, a zombie, I found that the world had moved on without me. And there was no space for that brain surgeon I once wanted to be.
I’m still not entirely sure what it was. Was it losing my best friend? Was it realizing that the world had moved on? Was it the years of solitary confinement in my depression? Was it the BDD? Was it the trauma that ripped my soul to pieces I never knew existed? Was it the never belonging in ‘your’ world? Or was it the fact that I could never return to ‘my’ world?
I’m not sure. But I found myself in a world outside ‘my own’ and ‘yours’, and there was only one way out from it all. And as the covers of suicidality moved aside and I was able to be me for the first time in years I planned and strategized the best and worst of ways to leave without offending and hurting my gracious hosts.
I planned, but I am not the best of planners. But the more I planned the more I held off. I wish I stayed because of religion, or family, or friends, or loved ones whatever shape they may take. But in the end I didn’t want to find myself in a fourth reality where I was stuck for eternity with the two individuals that had torn me apart. I knew a way out of ‘our’ worlds, but there was no way out of ‘that’ world. And back then, I would have rather living in a world that’s not my own, as an unwelcome guest, but far away from those individuals, than to risk the possibility of being with them forever. Despite losing all that I am years before, a part of me, a very small part, found its way back.
But that piece was not aware of what lay ahead, and as it saved my life, it also took it. The piece was not equipped to handle the pain and injustice in the world and instead of taking me with it to a better place it took a U-turn, doing everything in its power to turn the way it had come from but it was too late. Death was no longer an option, but being a part of a rebellious soldier in a nameless war for wellness it did not give up. The piece of me went farther than I knew possible, and it went ‘beyond.’
I can try to explain the concept of living ‘beyond’ to you but I’m not sure many of you will understand. The only way I can is that our brains are magnificent, and will always find a way out. When you’ve already created and lived in multiple worlds, what’s one more?
Before ‘beyond’ I knew there would be an event, something that would symbolize the end of all that I ever was. In ‘beyond’ there is no end. There is no beginning. In ‘beyond’ you cease to exist in an instant, and the worlds have to catch up.
Since then, I have gone through various stages of my journey. I graduated High school. I graduated from homelessness and starvation. I graduated from a country I never belonged in. I graduated from shame about all this. I graduated as a Peer Support Specialist. I graduated as a writer. I graduated as an Engineer. I graduated into life.
Today, I am successful in every sense of ‘your’ world's definition of success. I am an engineer for a fortune 500 company. I am a writer. I am a speaker. I am so many things that so many are proud of. Things I am proud of.
Throughout those six years, since suicidality came into my life, I have regained hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of my soul. I have fought hard to bring them back to life. I have fought to reopen wounds and allow them to heal properly. I have done the impossible coming back to life.
Those of you that know me know some of this. You know that I have lived and died a thousand times and after years of battle have found myself in better places I never knew existed.
What you don’t know is that despite finding all those pieces of myself I never regained the initial piece that went ‘beyond’. The part of me that brought me back is now the piece that does not want to come back. And so despite all the work, I am not whole and a part of me might always want to leave.
Which brings me to the truth that you do not want to hear. I have recovered in many areas. I have learned to live with five mental health illnesses. I have learned the truth about my trauma and experiences. But despite what you may think that means, I have never left Suicidality. I am not ‘beyond’, and I am not always ‘active’, but I am always there. Even with the healing, I have still to wake up to a day where ‘your’ world is better than the next. A day when ‘your’ world, is also ‘my’ world.I have lived in the realm of suicidality for nearly seven years now. And because I do not carry that piece of me anymore I can not imagine ‘your’ world with me in it for long. I have been asked multiple times if I will apply for citizenship in ‘your’ world. But I can not live in ‘your’ world as a second class citizen like I will be.
I thank you for your offer, but despite wanting to accept I know that there’s more exploring to do in the other worlds all around us.
Again, this is not a suicide note. I love the things that I do. I love the people around me (mostly). I love myself. I love this world. But that has never been enough for me. So instead of fighting it I have chosen to accept that my time here is limited. My visa can expire today, tomorrow, or fifty years from now. Who knows if it will get renewed.
But it doesn’t matter. I will live in ‘your’ world, as if it were my own, and when I leave I pray that you will understand. I pray that you won't take it personally and search for another explanation.
I will not be here forever. I have accepted my suicidality like I have accepted the mental Illnesses that have become a part of me. And just like an individual suffering from cancer can’t guarantee they will always be around, I can’t either.
But for this moment; I am here. I am well. I am alive. I am doing the things I love. And I am giving life everything I got.
I am ill, but when has that ever stopped me?
Your world expects me to be whole to be alive. You expect me to search for the missing pieces so that I may be ‘cured’. But I will not waste precious time on things that I do not need. I am exceptional as I am, with or without the pieces. I do not need to fit your version of wellness to be well. I do not need to leave suicidality to live. I am alive. I have one foot in each world, but I am alive, and well, and happy. I accept my terminal illness, and I raise you one, to live like every moment might be my last, and first.
Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Co-Founder and Director of Mental Health for MCL, An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, a Novelist and the founder and editor of Life in My Days. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events. Follow Ahmad on twitter or facebook.