Swim for the music that saves you

“You gotta swim
Swim for your life
Swim for the music that saves you
when you’re not so sure you’ll survive”
 

July 2002

I have no recollection of how many pills I'd swallowed.

It was at least 20--because that's how many I'd counted out for myself "to start with."


“You gotta swim
Swim when it hurts
The whole world is watching
You haven't come this far
To fall off the earth
The currents will pull you
Away from your love
Just keep your head above”

Deep down, I didn’t really want to die. But I couldn’t see a way out

from the Anger. Loneliness. Anxiety. Insecurity. Rejection. Self-Loathing.

My eyelids were heavy. My mouth dry.

With every breath, I willed myself to fall asleep, knowing it might mean I was dead.

at the same time, I feared falling asleep, because it might mean I was dead

“I found a tidal wave
Begging to tear down the dawn
Memories like bullets
They fired at me from a gun
Crack in the armor, yeah
I swim to brighter days
Despite the absence of sun
Choking on salt water
I'm not giving in
Swim”

Memories like bullets...real fucking bullets. Real fucking blood.

The horrific memory of staring out the front window of our old house in the Detroit--the one we didn't even live in anymore--

and seeing my mother's body crumpled in a pool of blood on the sidewalk.

“You gotta swim
For nights that won't end
Swim for your families,
Your lovers, your sisters,
Your brothers, and friends
You gotta swim
For wars without cause
Swim for these lost politicians
Who don't see their greed is a flaw"

Most people don’t know how to talk to others who are contemplating suicide.

They tell us we’re selfish.

They ask if we realize what it’ll do to our family.

They accuse us of doing it for attention.

And I understand--to an extent.

If you’ve never been pulled underwater from the absolute hopelessness of depression, you might think we can snap out of it.

But that’s not how our minds work.

It completely warps our brain, making it impossible to think rationally or logically at times.

At my darkest point, I could rattle off a hundred reasons why my family would be better off without me.

How could taking my own life be for attention if I was alone in my apartment?

I wore the guise of happiness in public, never showing anyone how much I hurt inside.

 

“The currents will pull us
Away from our love
Just keep your head above”

I remember lying on the bathroom floor of my apartment in Charlotte thinking…

I have tickets for a concert next week.

I don't even know what show. 

Because that's not what's important in this story.

 

“I found a tidal wave
Begging to tear down the dawn
Memories like bullets
They fire at me from a gun
Crack in the armor, yeah
I swim to brighter days
Despite the absence of sun
Choking on salt water
I'm not giving in
I'm not giving in
I swim”

I’m jolted by the memory of locking myself away in my bedroom as a kid—eyes closed, headphones on—getting lost in the music.

The lyrics. The bass line. The guitar riffs. The drum beat.

I remember how much I love the feeling of being at a live show.

And how it feels like the singer is belting out the songs just for me.

 

 “You gotta swim
Swim in the dark
There's no shame in drifting
Feel the tide shifting and wait for this spark
Yeah you gotta swim
Don't let yourself sink
Just find the horizon
I promise you it's not as far as you think”

I see the horizon.

I hear the waves against the shore.

I roll on to my stomach, grab the rim of the toilet, and pull myself onto my knees.

Then I shove two fingers down my throat, trying to bring up the pills.

 

“Currents will drag us away from our love
Just keep your head above
Just keep your head above
Swim
Just keep your head above
Swim
Just keep your head above
Swim”

I still swim.

I may falter when the dark thoughts try to seep into my head and pull me under,

but I gasp and choke and spurt, until I regain my stride.

The horizon is constantly changing.

It’s getting my kids back on Friday afternoons. It’s seeing them smile at the most mundane things we do together.

It’s starting a new book. Seeing a concert. Dinner with a friend. A trip to the beach. A drive through the mountains.

It's very hard to retrain your brain. 

But I'm trying to do that every day.

The only person who can make me feel happy – and worthy of being in this world—is ME.

I may not be remembered for anything grand in history books a hundred years from now,

but hopefully I’ll be remembered by the people I touched

with Kindness. Love. Encouragement.

And that’s good enough for me.

 

Thank you to Andrew McMahon for writing this amazing song - the lyrics I used in the post. This song was written well after the events of July 2002,

but I love the message and the strength I get from this song. I hope you do, too. Have a listen.