It is impossible for me to have a discussion about my best friends without mentioning the shoelaces. Anyone who went to high school with me probably has memory of this. There were seven of us guys; we all had a black shoelace given to us as we entered the group, a sort of symbol of friendship and loyalty. Five of those guys, and myself makes six, are still extremely close friends, my best friends, really.
We all use the messenger app on iPhone called “GroupMe”, and we have a shoelace group where we can all chat together. We talk near daily on that app. We organize what we are trying to standardize into monthly hangouts. We talk about our lives or sports or sometimes just generate life questions to get to know each other better.
Not too long ago, just before Christmas, I was drunk and on some pills close to midnight, and I posted in that GroupMe that I wasn’t doing well and thinking about suicide. And even though half of those guys were away at a get-together, and another lives in Texas, I had two phone calls within 20 minutes and a text message from every person within the hour. Each text mentioned that they knew about the phone calls I had, they were clearly communicating about me, possibly in another GroupMe chat room (we have rooms that exclude one member at a time, often created to plan bachelor parties).
While I did end up feeling better after the phone calls and texts, I was still down. The reality of the situation, as I’ve stated here before, is that other people cannot pull you out of a situation (or put you in one). But it did strike me how close of friends I really have.
One common tool in fighting depression is to visualize your own funeral; this is something I love to do, I fantasize about it regularly. The reason it is a common tool is because you begin to think about all of the people that would attend and how many people would be crying and how many lives you would destroy if you killed yourself. It can be powerful.
Funerals generally contain the normal thing, parents, children, siblings are all a mess. Sometimes cousins and aunts and uncles can’t handle it either. My sister would be a train wreck, I have no idea how my Dad would react, my wife would find it difficult just to step into the funeral home, her three sisters would all cry like fountains. That’s normal stuff.
But when I visualize my own funeral I think about the shoelaces. Two of us have lost a parent and one has lost a sibling. There has been other loss as well, devastating loss, but I’ve seen all of those guys there for all three of those events. I’ve seen how they handle tragic loss when it is close or even just adjacent to them.
I imagine where they would stand in the funeral home. Would they be in the back, in a circle, near the door? Would they try to greet the people that they knew or would they try to stay out of the way? My sister would include them all but how would they interact with my parents? Would they have normal conversation? In the past, I have been the one to keep the conversation rolling at these things, but what now? Would they all cry? Would they all go up to my casket? Would any of them want to speak? How would the news be disseminated amongst them? Would my wife call them all individually or would she call one and ask that he spread the word? Would they get together? At my house even? With my wife? Drink my booze?
How long would it be before they all felt normal again? A couple hours? Days? Weeks? I really have no idea. Who would crack the first joke about me? Who would try to stay in my daughter’s life, my wife’s? What kind of coffeehouse conversations would be randomly had about me years from now because someone was reminded of something I always said or did?
The fear is that none of it happens. That’s the big one. No one cares. Being depressed often feels like no one cares, at all, ever. There is a large disconnection between your reality and, well, reality. And I always turn to suicide as a way to remind myself that someone cares. Those people at my funeral, or in this case, my five best friends making sure I’m alright late at night when things aren’t going well.
When people ask me what deep depression feels like, I often tell them to imagine that no one in the world, not a single soul, cares if you wake up tomorrow. That’s what depression feels like. It is important to be reminded that isn’t the case. It is important to be comfortable enough with people so they can remind you, too.