When Financial Instability Triggers Suicidal Thoughts
I found myself sitting on the floor at the end of a long hallway in the building where I work my retail job. Surrounded by empty cardboard boxes used for transportation of merchandise from the warehouse to our store.
I’m a college student, working two jobs and living at home while trying to finish my degree.
I had never, ever thought so seriously about the expression “Living in a box under a bridge” until this moment. When the bad news had been broken, the call had been ended and my tears were soaking through my staff sweatshirt. I wondered which of these boxes might keep me safe, dry and warm once I become homeless.
I rolled up my sleeves and let the cold air sneaking in through the back door wrap itself around my bare arms. “Better get used to this,” I thought. As I watched the goose bumps appear, I thought of each one of them as a moment of warmth I have taken for granted… In a house, or an apartment — under any kind of roof.
I hate being cold. Almost as much as I hate how familiar I am with the realization that I’m about to lose everything… again.
So where does my mind go?
Inside my head I tiptoe to the edge of my small island of stability, and dive head first into a familiar sea of nauseating thoughts about how much easier it would be to just end it.
I could put a stop to this cycle of disappointment, displacement and disaster, before it ever has the chance to makes its way around again.
I wouldn’t have to hear that my father lost his job again.
I wouldn’t have to pack up everything I own… again.
Or listen for the final lock of the door to the place I called home click behind me… again.
If I could just end it, I wouldn’t have to be panic-stricken, grasping desperately for strength and bravery. I wouldn’t have to abruptly come eye-to-eye with the real world as an anxious, broken, fearful, demoralized and unprepared 22-year-old, forced out of the only place I felt I belonged.
I wouldn’t have to watch as the consequences of circumstance rip away the last of what was comfortable and familiar… what was home.
I wouldn’t have to hurt. Or cry. Or beg for help.
For once, I could choose how something ends for me. The pain could stop at the moment my heart does.
But then there’s an arm around my shoulder and a box of tissues on my lap. We now sit side by side on this cold concrete floor, and a familiar voice says, “Look at me, sweetheart.”
It takes me several seconds to unravel myself from the tangle of tension into which I had knotted my entire body. But I find the strength to lock my still-stinging eyes with those of the person who unknowingly came and saved me from my own dungeon of deadly daydreams.
“You have to realize something,” I rolled down my sleeves as I listened, aching for solace. “There are too many people who care about you for this to not turn out OK in the end. I know you think you are alone right now, but I’m going to be the first of many to tell you that you are standing with an army, honey. You are going to make it through.”
Suddenly, dying fades to the background of potential solutions. And home is no longer a foreclosed house, evicted apartment or cardboard box.
Home is the embrace of people who pull me from the depths of my own darkness, and somehow manage to revive me using the tiniest spark of hope.
… And I’ve never needed a home more than I do right now.
Getty Images photo via Benjavisa