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Love more, judge less

Guest Author: Michelle

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

My husband Kirk died by suicide, but that is not his story.

I feel like the very word suicide can be a conversation non-starter but I want you to know so much more about him. He was our super hero and we never imagined a time that he would not be with us.

He once described his depression and anxiety to me as “You feel like someone pulled your heart out of your chest, filled it with hornets, set it on fire and pulled the rug out from under your feet but you have to keep swinging.”

Swing he did, every damn day, all day, harder than anyone I have ever met. He inspired others to swing as well.

He battled with the demons of depression and anxiety for many years, often feeling terrified and powerless. There were periods where he felt the weight of an endless nothing, as if his entire life was wrapped in a deep dense fog, he even described looking at pictures of our memories together as feeling like he was looking at someone else’s life with a deep longing. There were other times where he felt every single thing at once and it was extremely overwhelming.

PTSD held him captive in a place deep in his past that he could not seem to move forward from for any length of time. As his illness progressed there were times that he was able to hide it very well, often using excessive work and alcohol to numb the pain. Eventually those numbing agents stole his joy as well and left him in a constant state of battle with his own mind, feeling like he was spiraling into a dark abyss that he had to defeat daily. At times when his illness had an insurmountable grip on him he would push away the people he loved feeling like he was bad and that we were better off without him.

He was the guy that would stay up all night to talk someone off the ledge.

Although Kirk did not talk about his illness to just anyone, he seemed to gather a little community of other friends that suffered similarly and became their cheerleader. He was the guy that would stay up all night to talk someone off the ledge. He had a huge heart and genuinely cared for people, especially people that he felt were judged unfairly. He taught me to love more and judge less and to truly look beyond circumstances and first impressions and to offer kindness and love before judgement. He really changed my entire life with his ability and encouragement to look beyond the obvious.

Kirk was a leader and a teacher; he not only excelled in the construction industry but he encouraged others to do the same. He had a magic about him and instilled a sense of self in people, giving them the tools that they needed to gain confidence and excel. I have been reminded many times about the mass amounts of energy that he expelled just to make people feel that they were worthy and important.

He was my biggest champion, he believed that I was capable of anything that I could dream and he instilled that same faith and support in our children, telling them that there was nothing that they could dream that they could not do. He wrapped us in an enormous blanket of love, always making us feel safe and special.

If Kirk considered you a close friend, you were family; there was never a line in between the two. He liked to be surrounded by the good energy of the people he loved.

Many people will be forever changed by his notion of loving more and judging less.

His love and his friendship were expansive and he had a great capacity for forgiveness. As long as you never hurt is family, his one more last chance was never exceeded. He believed in family, love, forgiveness and countless second chances. Many people will be forever changed by his notion of loving more and judging less.

Unfortunately he judged himself harshly and was never able to extend the same love and forgiveness to himself that he so generously gave to others.

I was surprised when he told me that he felt alone in a room full of people and how the thought of it made him cringe. For twenty years I knew him as the gregarious life of the party whose magnetic smile and laugh and wild sense of humor lit up my heart, our home and any room he graced.

He was not a large man, but he took up a vast amount of space in the world. The illness that stole him away from us little by little left a huge, dark void. Mental illness robbed him of the life that he deserved and so desperately wanted. It took his self worth, his comfort, his joy and his memories, thieving from him day and night until he couldn’t fight for himself anymore.

Mental illness is as insidious as cancer, sucking the life out of you.

My husband, my soulmate, father of my children, a son, a brother and a friend was stolen from us. Mental illness is as insidious as cancer, sucking the life out of you and then telling you to get up and fight again. He fought and he fought and he fought and unfortunately one day he felt he couldn’t fight anymore.

When someone asks me how my husband passed away I feel like suicide has the potential to end the conversation but I am working hard to make it a conversation starter. Kirk was and will always be more than the illness that ripped him from us. He was grace and goodness and love and he had a lot to teach the world. He was #sicknotweak and I hope that his story will inspire others to support and love others instead of judging them and to realize that everyone is facing a battle unique to them and ending the horrible stigma surrounding Mental Illness can make it easier for those that suffer to reach out for the help they urgently need.

Comments

Anastasia
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Well said! Xo love you! My brother Kirk was definetly so much more than the illness.

Cathy
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Kirk so loved his family; everyone that matters in your life knows that he didn’t take the “easy way out.” This disease just got bigger than him and he was overwhelmed. People should heed that advice to love more, judge less. It’s time for the stigma to end. It would be exactly the same thing if he passed from lung disease or any other illness. It just happens to affect the mind. We miss you Kirk, and we are proud of how your family and friends are taking the necessary steps to heal and bring awareness to this horrible disease that is taking so many lives.

Sandra
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There are times that I still can not believe that Kirk is gone. I didn’t know him very well but he definitely had a bigger than life personality and there was no question that he loved his family more than anything in the world. He was sick not weak ! I’m so proud of Michelle for fighting to change how people look at people who are struggling with mental illness. She has more strength and courage of anyone I know. I’m always thinking about her and the girls and want to thank her for changing the conversation.

Ruthie
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Thank You for sharing your story with us who suffer. He must have been a wonderful man to be able to share so well with you, how he really felt! Hope there are more people like you in the world . You can help us rid the stigma. God Bless

Jennifer
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What a beautiful tribute. It is so important that we remember and honour our loved ones by talking about them as a person and all the wonderful things that they did while with us on earth. Your husband sounds like wonderful individual- hold on to that and share it like you have done here
I always say I lost my sister Sandra to anxiety and depression – just as we would reference cancer or heart attack. It was her illness that took her life not suicide.

barbara
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Loved reading your story. I lost my son to this horrible illness. He was the light of our lives. The kindest person. Robbed from us due to his illness. Anyone that suffers from this illness needs to know they are not alone. I feel your pain.

Jen
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Loved your story…you got it right, so right. How nobly you honour his memory. I pray for the day we, who suffer from mental illness, I am one,can get help, the right help. That it is understood more. I don’t have answers but I know I have incredible strength. Whether the illness will eventually beat that strength I honestly and terrifyingly don’t know. But the world has to keep trying to find some answers…research, talk, destigmatizing and most of all kindness and understanding

Chris
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Thank you for sharing your journey with your wonderful husband. Also thank you to those who have shared in comments. 25 years ago my husband lost an uncle to suicide after three unsuccessful attempts, in months prior. We discovered after that he was a gay, which to this day brings tears to my eyes. Not only was he dealing with anxiety and depression, but keeping a secret from all but my mother in law. He must have felt so alone. I now see my husband fight the same anxiety and depression that plague so many in his family. He is such a good man, a loving husband, and a wonderful father. His difficulties have intensifed in the past few years and he has been on short term leave since the spring. I thought being away from his high stress job would make a huge difference, but I still have days I worry. He has a great therapist and psychiatrist, as do my daughter and I. But, I still worry of what happened to his uncle. The worst thing is that outside of our immediate family it is as if his uncle fell off the earth with no memory. But I remember helping clean out his apartment and felt him there. I hope he can be my husbands guardian angel here on earth. My husband will have to the end of the school year to decide his next step. I am hoping he accepts an early medical retirement. He is in the process of opening a case of at OVR to hopefully help him decide options. I so believe he has an illness but he doesn’t buy it 100%, most likely since his family also doesn’t. Dad looks at it as a weakness and mom feels diet and exercise are the key. I send all of you loving hugs in your journey.

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