One night, after a particularly nasty argument with the woman who was soon to be my ex-wife, I drove home on I-80. As I made my way past the Great Salt Lake, headed deeper into Utah’s desert, I seemed to be driving into a darkness that would swallow me whole.
I had made a terrible mess of my marriage and I couldn’t see any future in which things turned out well. I was stuck in patterns of conflict and confusion from which I couldn’t escape.
My pain only disappeared when my consciousness did—such as when I played video games (sometimes for more than 24 hours at a stretch), drank or slept.
But consciousness, like daylight, always found its way back in. It wasn’t often welcome.
As I sped past sagebrush under a deepening night sky, I found myself lost in a tangle of remorse and self-pity.
I knew that I didn’t want to continue living these patterns. But I didn’t know how to break them. I was too much myself.
By this point, I’d experienced regular episodes of depression for years and had been clinically diagnosed with the illness.
In my teens and early twenties, I’d survived a couple of suicide attempts. Fortunately, at that time, I didn’t have access to a firearm, or my attempts would have probably been successful.
But this night, I had a loaded .45 caliber handgun waiting for me at home.
Oscillating between self-pity, regret and glimpses of a future where I was haunted by my own decisions, I decided to use that gun to kill myself when I reached my destination.
My favorite video game was Magic: the Gathering Online, a card game that combines the best elements of games like poker, chess and Dungeons & Dragons.
When I played, I was fully focused on just one thing—winning—and totally forgot real life with all its complexities, responsibilities and problems.
As I approached my freeway exit, I decided to call my friend Adam to see if he wanted to play with me. If he agreed, I told myself, when I got home I’d play that game instead of end my life.
Besides, I reasoned, if I still felt like it, I could always kill myself later.
It was nearly 10pm when I called Adam, but fortunately he picked up. We played. I stayed alive.
I don’t remember anything about the games we played that night, and I don’t remember much about our conversation either. I’m sure I told Adam about the challenges I was going through as my marriage unraveled, but I didn’t say anything about my suicidal thoughts or plans.
It wasn’t until years later that I told Adam that he saved my life by picking up the phone that night.
I’ll be forever grateful.
If you know anyone that might be struggling, like I was, please be there for them and refer them to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
This week’s Transformational Coaching participants will be going through the Purpose course. Watch the course intro video here.
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