I just heard about another veterinarian committing suicide and I’m torn between wanting to cry (I did) and scream (I haven’t yet).
I had so much to tell him.
That I too have touched the dark night of my soul more than once.
That I too have considered suicide (more than once). That one of my closest friends committed suicide when I was 18, two days after I spend an entire evening with him.
I would tell him that I too know the insidious lure of suicide. What if feels like to just want the pain to end, the suffering to end. How one more day seems unbearable and failing one more time is not an option.
I would tell him I know how disappointment feels when I’ve screwed up again, and the bitter taste of self-loathing and regret that is right behind it.
I would tell him that I also know what it’s like to feel all alone. To feel like the world or my life wouldn’t miss me. To feel like even those things I cherish most (my family and pets) aren’t enough to endure one more day of this torture I’m feeling inside.
But I would also tell him that suicide is a Big.Fat.Liar.
It tells us we are alone in how we feel, but we really aren’t. It tells us no one loves us, but it’s not true. It tells us the way to feel better is by ending it, but that is just another seductive lie.
Suicide is sneaky and cruel as it lures us in. Telling us life will never get any better, we will never be happy and we will never be good enough. Suicide smothers us by making us believe we will never change, life will always be this way and no one will understand or can help.
I’m living proof that it’s all a lie.
I fell down 947 times and I picked myself up 948 times. Sometimes the picking myself up took time and sometimes I needed a helping hand but I picked myself back up because no matter how much mental and physical agony I was in, I believed there was more for me.
There had to be.
And I was right.
I know that despite the darkest days and nights, the sun will rise again, breathing hope into each day. And with each day is another opportunity to find what lights me up. I know that for each of us there is a purpose and if you haven’t yet found it, you will. And if you have, embrace it with your whole heart for this is what you were made for.
You are unique. There is no one else on the planet like you with your genetic makeup and your specific skills, traits and characteristics.
But what isn’t unique about you is your pain and suffering. Your pain and suffering is just like my pain and suffering and tonight when I wept for this young veterinarian, it was because my pain recognized his pain.
What I know now is that the darkest hour is just before dawn (intentional nod to the Mamas and the Papas). Please don’t give up on yourself and this life. What feels unbearable is just asking for your attention. Asking for your vulnerability not your strength. We think we are the only ones that feel what we feel yet I can tell you from talking to countless veterinarians and staff, you are not alone in the slightest. Being vulnerable may not come easy at first but it’s essential to our growth and our healing.
When we give ourselves permission to feel and speak our experience and remove the strong face we put on for the world, we come to realize how like everyone else we really are.
I wish I could tell him this, but I can’t. But I can tell you.
Julie Squires is a Certified Compassion Fatigue Specialist & Educator who brings a unique perspective and approach to support the sustained energy and passion of animal workers. Her company, Rekindle LLC, offers on-site compassion fatigue seminars and workshops to veterinary hospitals, animal shelters and other animal organizations.
Julie has more than 20 years of experience within the veterinary field and with leading organizations where she has developed and executed trainings, workshops and 1:1 coaching. www.rekindlesolutions.com