A Financial Plan Saved My Life

Three suicides in the past six months.  An acquaintance, a coworker, and a friend’s brother.  We all have the same initial reaction of denial, that first step on the traditional path of mourning. Then, the questions start.  How could they do this?  What about their family?  How did we not see that they needed help?  And, the one repeated ad infinitum . . . why?  After each of these recent incidents, I found myself in denial along with everyone else.  But afterwards, I didn’t ask the question of why, because I had been there before.  I know, to some extent, what they were thinking.  

candle

There comes a point where you reach blinding and absolute certainty that your life is meaningless and everyone else would be better off without you.  It’s not a rational opinion, but one that has evolved over time, feeding on faulty logic and depression.  You imagine the initial negative repercussions, but then visualize positive futures for your family and friends.  You wear a mask of happiness and positivity.  You keep everyone safe from any hint of the battle that wages on inside your head.  As time passes, that battle fades to resignation, then planning.  

I was in high school, a cheerleader with good grades and a relatively happy family.  It was not a tearful, spur-of-the-moment response to breaking up with a boyfriend or a fight with my parents.  The attempt on my life came after a small idea festered over time into what I perceived as the only answer.  I sincerely believed that my life was meaningless.  The prospects of adulthood, including having a family and/or career, did not hold any interest.  I had every opportunity available, but didn’t want any of it.  

Cryptic goodbyes to loved ones. Vodka and a bottle of pills.  The letter explaining my decision.  An extinguished candle.  I peacefully closed my eyes, prepared to sleep forever.  

Fortunately, my attempt was unsuccessful, but the idea resurfaced many times over the next ten years or so.  In retrospect, it usually came to mind whenever some mildly upsetting event occurred.  I was always looking for an excuse, some justification beyond general malaise and disenchantment with life.  

I don’t want to complain about having it too easy.  There are many others who battle with horrible things like abuse, addiction or poverty.  However, I think that living a standardized existence may have been part of the problem.  I was floating in a melancholic state with no goals and few challenges.  Basic survival in mainstream America requires little ambition.  Instead of fighting for each day, we’re encouraged to drift down a traditional path.  I foresaw decades of work ahead of me, necessary in order to purchase all of those material goods deemed important by our consumerist culture.  Advertising would always be introducing me to one more thing that I couldn’t afford.  My days would be ruled by trivial obstacles, like picking up dry cleaning or making appointments.  There would be some time for relaxation on the weekends, which would include mindless consumption of entertainment such as reality television. I would struggle to check off the daily to-do list in an obsessive quest to stay busy and achieve status and “success.”  Envisioning year after year in such a contrived existence was enormously depressing.  What would I be working to achieve?  A break to finally relax during old age?  No wonder I questioned the point of it all.  I certainly can’t judge those who decided that the effort of living was too much to bear any longer.

The anagnorisis came when I finally accepted that there are other options.  We can all design a thriving existence of personal significance.  The future is exciting now, because I’m working towards attaining the freedom to experience my life as an adventure, instead of just passing away time until death.  I will labor to pay off debt and stop wasting resources on pointless expenditures of time and money.  My goal, and the reward for my efforts, will be the ability to fully experience life on my own terms.  The same thoughts about death that were my fantasies for a long time are now terrifying.  I’m scared of missing out on what lies ahead.  

My advice to anyone struggling would be first, to seek help from any and all sources available to you.  I was helped along the way by medication and therapy.  Secondly, muster up the strength to give living a chance, for just a little bit longer.  You have no idea how much things can change in a short amount of time.  Finally, if you’ve reached that point where life no longer holds any meaning for you, consider the fact that you can write an entirely new story for yourself.  I’m not trying to simplify the issue by advocating that early retirement is the answer to everyone’s problems.  It simply allowed me to find hope down an alternate path.  With some effort and a little bit of faith, you can create a future that inspires you to make the most out of every day that you have on this earth.

13 Replies to “A Financial Plan Saved My Life”

  1. Claudia @ Two Cup House

    Thank you for sharing your story. I, too, struggled through my teens and early 20s for a lot of reasons. It took a long, long time and a good bit of therapy to realize that life can be ok, even amazing sometimes.

    Reply
    1. Harmony Post author

      It’s staggering to think about the amazing life that I would have missed out on. I just want people to know that there are other options, limitless opportunities to live in a completely different way, which they may never have even considered.

      Reply
  2. Our Next Life

    I knew that this would be a heavy post, so had to find some quiet time when I could read it for real. Thank you for sharing this story so honestly — I’m sure it was tough to put yourself out there, so kudos. I’ve had my share of dark times as well, and have tried to journal as many of the “turning point moments” as I can — those moments when things turn from dark to light, and you see that the darkness was in some ways just a matter of limited perspective. (Of course it never feels like that at the time.) Having those stories written down helps me keep perspective when things feel hopeless. And I completely agree with you — planning for early retirement is such a positive, hopeful idea, that we can’t help but be inspired and uplifted by it. I hope you continue to find inspiration from your FIRE planning! 🙂
    Our Next Life recently posted…Living in a Small Town // Good for Finances, But Not for EverythingMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Harmony Post author

      One of the best things about blogging anonymously is the ability to write honestly. The recent suicides made me think a lot about my past and how everything has changed so very much for me. I think most people go through dark times. But if we start being more open about this fact, maybe those who are struggling will feel more comfortable seeking help.

      Reply
  3. Maggie

    Oh my goodness! I am sorry for the losses you have faced and I appreciate your heartfelt story. Suicide is something we do not give a face to and we struggle discussing. My cousin who is a nurse says that suicide is the natural progression of the disease depression, but because it has such a stigma surrounding it, we don’t help prevent it correctly like we would cardiac arrest or any other end-stage illness. I’m glad you were able to leap out of the hole to find hope.
    Maggie recently posted…The Story of My 33% RaiseMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Harmony Post author

      We definitely need a more open dialouge when it comes to depression and suicide. Otherwise, those who are suffering will never know the resources available to them, including the support of friends and family who may be completely clueless to their struggles.

      Reply
  4. Jaime

    It makes me sad whenever anyone takes their life. It’s not just private people, there have been several celebrities that have taken their lives. It’s so sad. Even when other people believe in you and see worth in you, sometimes the hardest thing to do is to see worth in yourself.
    Jaime recently posted…Ten free stock photo sites for your projectsMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Harmony Post author

      Yes, suicide seems to be happening all of the time, which is why I felt compelled to write this post. If I could just reach one person with the message that there are other options . . . that would mean the world to me.

      Reply
  5. Pingback: ★ How a Financial Plan Saved My Life | My Money & Health

  6. Free to Pursue

    Thank you for this important post. You must have hesitated before hitting the “publish” button, and if that’s the case, know that you’re likely to help more people than you ever hoped by sharing your thoughts, anonymously or not.
    Free to Pursue recently posted…Chasing PerfectionMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Harmony Post author

      I definitely questioned whether to hit that button. While I’m blogging anonymously for now, I do plan to reveal my true identity once we hit our FIRE date. Ultimately, it’s just one more experience that made me who I am today. Hopefully my story will help many others who are struggling to make a better decision.

      Reply
  7. Alyssa

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. It is a struggle so many people go through and I love that more and more are willing to tell the truth. Having personally dealt with friends going through the same thing, I appreciate your courage in writing this.
    Alyssa recently posted…Monthly Review: OctoberMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Harmony Post author

      While I was apprehensive about this post at first, the positive feedback has been so rewarding. Thank you for your kind words.

      Reply

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