Comfort found in knowledge that individuals are not alone, others have similar emotions

Ian Zulick and Ian Zulick

I can remember very clearly a night not so long ago: the first night I truly felt alone.

I had been in a rut; visibly unhappy and distraught to such an extent that even those I barely knew could tell something was deeply wrong with me.

I was supposed to be having the time of my life studying abroad in France and enjoying all of the wonderful foods, sounds and memories that went along with it, but on that night of October the thirtieth, I was heartbroken, somewhat homesick and generally disinterested in living the rest of my life as it was.

Many truths overwhelmed me that night.

I had entrusted my heart to someone I barely knew in a foolhardy attempt to give myself something to hang onto in the midst of my confusion. I had boarded a plane to a foreign land for all the wrong reasons; leaving behind the broken pieces of my life in an effort to start fresh. I had been feeling incredibly distant from most of my classmates, though most of that was my own doing.

But most of all, I had wrongly assumed that every mile we passed over the glassy surface of the Atlantic, I was getting further and further from

my problems.

But as I sat gazing down, teary-eyed, at the bottom of a bottle of Bordeaux, I realized that I had been so wrong about everything. So I got up from my chair, put on my shoes and sweatshirt and went on

a walk.

I stumbled past the international school; past all the clubs and shops and sushi bars whose signs glowed all imaginable colors in the night, down to my favorite bridge overlooking the Loire River. That night at dinner with my host parents, I was so low that I even felt mocked by the psychotic grins on my smiley potatoes.

So I stood there a while, imagining how my friends and family might miss me if I decided to end it

all there.

Part of me would have hated to put that on them and I felt it would have been a selfish decision, but that didn’t matter; not to me, not then, not in that state of mind. I just wanted the pain to stop.

The somber, melancholic notes of Jerry Cantrell’s guitar and Layne Staley’s gripping, solemn voice haunted my ears as I listened to “Nutshell” for the millionth time that night. That song was my one respite— the one consolation I had that someone else, at one point, although for a different reason, had experienced the same feelings as I was at that point.

Knowing that helped me leave the bridge, walk home and approach the next day as best I could.

The truth is that sometimes, no one will be there to reach out to us and we have to be able to overcome on our own. Before suicide was ever really talked about the way it is now; before the candlelight vigils, high school gym assemblies and yellow ribbons, those with nowhere to turn sought solace in the music— whether literal or figurative— of others.

Sometimes, sadness itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing and knowing one is not alone in suffering is sometimes the greatest, most human comfort of all.

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