I was in downtown Cleveland on Friday. It was cold. So very cold.
The temperature was about 18 degrees, but with the windchill it was below zero. You could feel your breath freeze up in your chest it was so cold. And oh so windy down by the lake.
Our bank is in the Federal Building on East Ninth Street. I probably make it there several times a month when I have large deposits to make. I really love driving into downtown. There is something about it that always makes me smile.
I love the buildings and I love the factories. The old churches, the pedestrians. I love the lake.
After I went into the bank I got into my van, but instead of driving back home, I decided to drive down by the pier behind the Rock Hall so I could get a closer look at the Lake.
I had on my new jacket, my gloves, and my scarf. There were no long johns or ski caps a top my head, but I was just going to snap a few photos.
As soon as I started walking and the initial shock of the wind blasting through me subsided, I felt a calm wash about me.
All the thoughts that race through my head that sometimes scream so loudly that I can barely hear myself think were muted. It was just me, my camera, and the still and frozen lake.
I just stood there, gazing at these frozen chunks of ice. The stillness and quietness of the lake is not something that I see often and I pondered for a second if this calm and stillness is what it is like when you die.
Okay, I pondered it for more than a second as I walked the length of the pier, close to the chain that is there to keep us in. To keep us safe from the beast that we call a lake.
I kept snapping away. The factories in the distance-got them. The pancake chunks of ice-captured. The barricade-the depth of field in that shot is especially lovely.
I turned and looked at the skyline of downtown Cleveland. The Rock Hall in front of me with the skyline behind it. It was a shot that if taken, would totally scream Cleveland. I kept stepping backwards to really get the wide angle shot that I wanted, but I only had my 50mm and I just couldn’t get the shot, unless…..
I knew if I could step over the barrier that extra 2 feet on the other side would give me what I needed, I could capture the perfect shot.
Before I finished up that thought, another popped into my head. You will probably trip backwards and fall into the Lake. It may be frozen and still now, but you will fall in. You might hit your head on the way down to your icy, watery grave. There is no one around to save you. No one will call for help. You don’t want to do that- do you?
I pondered for a millisecond the peace that would surround me, the perfect darkness and then I said out loud “I can’t do this now.” I shifted over about 3 feet and was able to capture the wide angled shot of downtown Cleveland that I really ‘needed’ to get-without stepping over the barrier that is there to keep me in.
Now before you freak out (because I am sure some of you will), I have thoughts like this all the time. I ponder. I wonder. But I would never do anything. There are literally hundreds of, I hate to call them this, but voices running through my head. They are always my voice, but they are always there. They have always been there.
Yes, I am on medication. Yes it helps with my mood swings and my feeling of I can take on the world….only to crash before the world is mine. But yet, I still have these thoughts. Much like a person would feel if their child is screaming and they just want them to stop and they have this thought. A fleeting thought that they would never act on, but it shot through your consciousness all the same. You put your child in a safe place and you walk away.
I can’t do that. I can’t put my body in a safe place, while my head sorts everything out. I admit that when I was younger these thoughts scared me. You can’t admit to someone that you always have passing thoughts of what it would be like to die. But, here I am doing it. I even hesitate to publish this post because I don’t want people to think that this is a cry for help.
This is for someone out there who might have these same thoughts, I want you to know that you don’t have to act on them. You shouldn’t. You probably have hundreds of reasons to still be here. Make a list and you would be surprised how many reasons there are not do something that you can never take back. I know that your life might be crashing around you. I know that things might seem bleak. But you can overcome it.
Call someone, talk to them. You don’t have to tell them what you are thinking, but I will tell you that if you reach for someone they will reach back. They will take your hand, they will help you stay a float. You are never alone, even when life is at its bleakest. You are NEVER alone.
Maybe I should admit to my doc that these things rush through my head, but in a way I like telling myself why I am not ready to leave this world yet.