Sunday, October 23, 2016

#HoldOnToTheLight - Please keep fighting

I'm writing this entry as part of the #HoldOnToTheLight blog campaign (more on it at the end of this post), but I've discussed this topic on multiple occasions in the blog, because it's important to me.

If you're one of the many people having trouble simply making it through the day, if the trauma you suffered darkens your days or your nights, if the bees in your head make every little thing a struggle, if after all of this you're considering giving up and killing yourself, I'd like to ask you to do something I have no right to ask.

I'd like you to keep fighting.

I can't claim to understand what you're going through.  Each of us fights our own demons, and each battle is unique.

I can tell you, though, that I've been in my own dens of horrors, and that at one point I came close to killing myself.

I've written about that time in a few places, including in this blog and in my afterword to the Baen edition of The Man Who Sold the Moon.  Here's the short form.  I was eleven years old.  I was in a messed-up paramilitary youth group in which twice a week I was physically abused in more ways than I care to list--and when they weren't abusing me, they taught me things no child should learn.  I was also being beaten at least once daily at home, beaten by a woman who had been the victim of abuse and who knew how to beat you for a long time while leaving no visible marks.  (Large, flat surfaces are key; think shoes and frying pans and even spatulas, which sting after the first few whacks.)  I saw no end to this abuse, no way out except to grow older, and I wasn't sure I could take it anymore.

I ultimately decided not to kill myself and instead to stay alive so that one day I could stop the assholes who were hurting me each week and kill the woman who was beating me daily.  I took all of my anger and hurt and pain and turned this horrible rage into a glowing ball of power, a ball that I could hold onto when nothing else would work, that would get me through the cold, desperate nights of pain and powerlessness.

I never did stop those assholes.  I just quit the group when I could--though only after becoming its highest-ranking member.

I never did kill the woman.  I came closer than I should have, but I stopped myself, and she stopped beating me, my sister, and my brother.

I still have the ball of rage, though I like to think it's smaller now, much smaller, and I rely on it less and less.

A bad case of PTSD grabbed me and has never let go.

In the course of all of this, I gained a true and profound sorrow at the loss of each person who chooses suicide.  I respect their choice, but it saddens me.  I feel the loss.  I feel it like another beating, like when a DI ground my face into my own vomit.  I feel it as pain and powerlessness and rage at the world for the damage it does to us all.

Here's the thing:  if you kill yourself, you not only leave behind wreckage, you deprive yourself and the world of those good things, however few or many they may be, that you would have enjoyed and created.

Had I killed myself, I would have devastated at least my mother, sister, and brother.  If you read this blog, it's probably because you are a friend or someone who enjoys my fiction or my other writing (or maybe you're in both camps).  Had I killed myself, none of that would exist now.

I'm not vain enough to think that in the greater scheme of things I matter a lot, but in the here and now, in this life, I know I matter to some folks.

So do you.

Even if you don't think you matter to anyone, if I know you, you matter to me.  If I don't know you, feel free to email me (easy to do via my site), and then I'll know you, and you'll matter to me.

As I said at the start, even though I have no right to do so, I'm asking you to keep fighting.  Seek help--and don't be ashamed that you could use it.  Call on all the tricks you've used in the past.  Do not give up.

Keep fighting.  Please.

About the campaign:

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention, and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming, and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention, such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA), and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to and join us on Facebook


Michelle said...

A powerful story and message. Depression is hell. Falling into the depths where suicide seems like the best option is easy to do when you think living doesn't matter anymore and the pain is too great to bear. And, unless you have PTSD, you really don't understand how numbing the world can be. You do. Thank you for listing the resources. And promoting the cause. If you helped just one person reconsider, it is worthwhile.

Mark said...

Thanks for the kind words.

Rosanne said...

I too, have PTSD symptoms, and also depression and anxiety. I' m glad I have kept going even though some times are really rough. I'm glad you kept on going too! I've had two suicides happen in my family in the past few years, a 17 year old cousin, and this past Father's Day, an uncle. The fact that he chose suicide rather than walk across the parking lot and enter rehab, where he was scheduled to check in that morning, hit me even harder. My 17 year old cousin had gotten into trouble doing a school prank and on the spur of the moment, took his life rather than go to jail. The superintendent of schools had demanded his arrest. Recently, a friend's daughter attempted suicide, but luckily, she was not successful. I know many people who say they don't understand depression and don't want to have anything to do with someone who has it. I hope more folks will open their hearts to the extent they can. Just being a friend is helpful.

Rosanne said...

It is great that you are helping people this way. Thanks for sharing your story, and for the help you offer in your post.

Mark said...

You're most welcome.


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