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Two Years Later: A Letter to My Suicidal Self

T/W - Suicide, Self-Harm

Dear Chris,

Hey, sup. I hope this letter finds you well.

Wait, no. You are definitely not well. Why the hell do people say that? How about we just say, "I hope this later FINDS YOU", and leave it at that? We'll take care of the "well" part later.

Anyway, it's me, you, two years to the day when you almost took your own life.

If I were to pick a moment for that Western Union Guy from Back to the Future II to hand you this letter, it would be here, when you're in the car. That crossroads. Pretty big decision, huh? I'm sure I could give you a laundry list of the people this would absolutely blindside and devastate, but I'm fully aware that is not something you want to hear in this moment.

First off, go ahead and punch the steering wheel. It'll feel good, for now… Great, now scream till you blow your lungs out… don't worry about the woman taking her kid to school who just jumped out of her shoes. She'll get over it. Wait, don't bite your fist, it… ouch, okay, fine. That hurt, didn't it? You still have your teeth? Yeah? Did you break skin? Yeesh.

Okay, now while you're panting and regretting taking the self-injurious behavior one step too far, I want you to consider your two options:

1- Put the car in drive and go through with the thing you're thinking about doing.

2- Read this letter from the survivor of this episode.

I'm just going to level with you, man. This world you don't want to live in, it does NOT get any better next year. I know isolation is literally the only thing bringing you any shred of comfort these days, but you are in for a DOOZY. The world will be fucked three ways from Sunday for a WHILE. You think people are divided now? Wait till they introduce a vaccine for this virus that's killed like 5 million people.

You'll get the virus and survive, but you'll lose your sense of smell for like a year. Don't worry, you won't miss it as much as you think. I know you take pride in your farts, but it's actually more fun to not have to deal with the aftermath. And, you know, in transitioning into living with a partner during a time when the two of you are home 24/7 and not showering for days at a time, it'll be a silver lining.

Oh yeah! You're living with Hannah now! You'll be rocky for a couple of months post-recovery, nearly to the point of breaking up. It'll scare the shit out of you because you never imagined your life without her, pretty-much from the second you laid eyes on her, but taking the space to get better will be the best thing for you two. Your first apartment will be an absolute disaster, but you'll trade up for a much bigger, better place across the street. Though you'll underestimate the move and think you can move an entire apartment with an old-lady basket cart and a hand truck. It'll take you three days, ya dumb dumb.

You'll get medicated and gain a bunch of weight. Lamictal will change your life (more on that in a bit), but you might want to skip the Lexapro and go straight for the Prozac. That first day back in an acting class will be tough - you'll be cripplingly insecure about people thinking "what the fuck happened to Chris Russell", but then you'll get back on stage and forget about all that pretty quickly. In fact, when you book that first TV gig post-pandemic, you'll watch yourself and think, "hey, I carry that weight pretty fucking well." Your dad will text you saying, "Man, you really do look like a veteran NYPD Detective. Good TV acting. Proud of you, Chris."

You'll start a podcast with one of your best buds, something you'll look forward to every week. You'll watch a shitload of bad movies, some great ones, argue about bullshit, (The Room episode will nearly end your friendship), and share some of the hardest laughs of your life on a weekly basis.

You'll make a movie, literally by yourself, during the lockdown. Mets fans across the world will watch it and send you all the praises. You'll write some beat poetry and put it on the internet. You'll start a mental health blog and help a lot of people. Oh yeah - this thing you're going through, you'll tell the whole world about it in graphic detail. I know, I know, that doesn't seem like a good idea right know, but it'll save a few lives and be incredibly cathartic. Plus, it'll be the first paycheck you ever receive for your words and you'll cry like a baby. I'm staring at the paystub on our office wall as I write this.

Your acting classes will expand. You'll have ongoing classes for the first time on this thing called Zoom (invest in Zoom stock right now, I'm fucking serious.) You'll watch your students grow in their technique and in the business and you'll be a proud papa bear.

You'll wear the badge of honor of completing all 12 weeks of The Artists Way. The Mets will not go to the playoffs in 2019, 2020, or 2021. BUT, the Knicks will become relevant again. The Giants? Let's not go there. You'll take a trip to San Francisco with Hannah and you'll both admit that you should have went to a tropical island instead. You'll want to binge-watch more new shows, but end up watching The Sopranos for the 900th time instead.

Grandma will pass away. I'm sorry. It will be a "covid funeral", which will really suck. And, for whatever reason, you will wear a light blue suit (just wear the black catering ensemble, man). Her dementia was really hard for you to see, and you'll beat yourself up for not visiting enough towards the end. Forgive yourself. She loved you and was so proud of you.

You will adjust to life as a bipolar, late 30-something man. Oh yeah… you have bipolar 2, dude. You resisted it for as long as you could, but it's the truth. It will be really hard to take in and accept, but once you "come out", it will be the best thing for you. It will not cost you any jobs, or credibility. You will be free of hiding. You will become an advocate. You will be seen by so many people. It will be one of the most important things you'll ever do.

And, lastly, the night before your two-year anniversary of being alive, a funny thing will happen. You'll eat two-week-old supermarket tuna salad and get vicious food poisoning for 36 hours. After thinking it has fully passed, you'll feel a fart coming on while walking out of the 190 A train exit. You'll think it's safe to let one go. You will be wrong. You'll duck-waddle home, passing the deli you had planned on going into to pick up some ice cream, and go straight for the shower, hoping you're not giving Hannah the impression that you're cheating on her.

You'll take a moment and look in the mirror, bottomless in your t-shirt like some mud-butt Winnie the Pooh, and laugh at yourself. In that moment, you will have gratitude for being alive and finding the humor in shitting your pants in a subway terminal.

Then, on impulse, you will say to your reflection, "I'm glad you're here."

With as much love as I have in me,

Future You

If you are struggling with your mental health, there is no shame in getting help:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 160 crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 1-800-273-8255. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

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