Do not praise the evening
before the morning
When you wake up in the morning, you don't know that the coming hours will change your whole life and nothing will be left of what your being and your presence is all about.
When I woke up on Easter Monday, 2016, at around 12 noon with a thick head, my whole body cried out for food and coffee. My friend Hans was out and his fridge was empty. So I went out to the Kollwitz-Platz in Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg to have a hearty lunch.
I was in the city since Good Friday and had been partying all the time at various parties, because I wanted to get out of Frankfurt and the bad situation there, so as not to go crazy. I had had a fight with my boy friend Jose before. It was not the first time. But this weekend all the pent-up fears and annoyances of our two and a half year relationship exploded. I was tired of being emotionally abused by him. I was tired of having the world explained to me by someone who had never travelled it. But the worst thing and the real reason for our argument was that Jose refused to have suitable therapy for his depression even though he had all the options. He was having treatment and told his therapist nothing but lies, fairy tales and excuses. When he came home from a session, he laughed himself silly because he had been pulling the psychologist's leg, as he had been doing for weeks, but he had reinvented it again and again, but always the same. It made me sick because I was afraid for him and I had worked my arse off so he could start therapy as soon as possible. I had even given him my own psychotherapy sessions.
Jose came from a family where severe depression was passed on from grandparents. His mother had two attempts at suicide behind her. She lived for decades on antidepressants that kept her alive. For many years, care was taken in the apartment to ensure that nothing was accessible with which she could take her own life. This family background did not matter to Jose. His standard comments were "Oh honey, I don't want to get that old" and "I've had suicidal thoughts since I was 16 years old. Everything has always gone well so far," and these robbed me of sleep and scared me to death. The elevator in his mind went once again many floors down into hell, because he had stopped his antidepressants from now on.
It was not the first time, but the third time in a few months.
In those days and weeks, the man I had fallen in love with no longer existed. Not only the human warmth, the relaxed laughter, the hopeful future or the beautiful togetherness were missing, but all respect. I went elsewhere for compassion and the confrontation with my fears, because he had neither one nor the other. This was not the man I wanted to grow old with. This was not the life partner whose eyes allowed me a deep look into his desires, which I knew very well and could understand. That was no longer the man who stopped the whole world with a single embrace and gave me a stillness and peace like I had never experienced before in my life. There was only the guy who put me in the greatest fear because I could no longer be sure that I would meet him alive in the evening. I was really scared to death for him. I couldn't stand all this anymore. I deserved a bright future, just like any other person, and I didn't want to be terrorised any more. I told him, "You have four days to decide on in-patient therapy or our relationship is at an end," and I went to Berlin, where I had always travelled for many years at Easter.
My trip was accompanied by a torrent of wild texts. I warned him several times that he should stop. In the end I had to turn off my mobile phone to find my peace.
When I turned it on again at 1 pm, three days later, at Kollwitz-Platz, 120 mostly voice messages, reached me. It took over an hour to listen to everything. Jose cried, he laughed, he scolded, he raved, he was desperate, he wanted to come to Berlin. He insisted on marrying me, he made up his mind to move into an apartment with me, he pretended to do everything if only I would come back to him. There was not a single message in which he told me that he was going to the hospital. He told me that "you" would say that I had left because I wanted to dump him from the ouset. By "you" he meant his ex-boyfriend, a Catholic priest and dean, with whom he had had a seven-year relationship. He told me about conversations with his ex, where he was at that time and from whose toilet he sent me numerous messages. I was the devil incarnate to this professionally lost and morally degenerate hypocrite. It was me that Jose had met one day and for whom he had ended this hidden relationship full of disappointments, lies and psychological violence. You can imagine that this guy did not speak well of me and hated me like the devil hates holy water. Nevertheless, in his desperation, Jose went to him hoping for help and comfort. Jose's mood went up and down, back and forth, he cursed me, he pleaded desperately, he talked about things I couldn't relate to, and his voice became quieter and quieter. His last message was: "This is the last kiss for you" followed by a kiss and crying.
I listened and cried my eyes out. I tried to call him, but no one answered the phone. I wrote one text after another and explained myself again and again. I reminded him that I would come to his place tonight after all, and that we would then talk to each other in peace. I kept pressing the status message of my outgoing text messages. Finally, a message brought relief: Sent, Received and most importantly, Read.
Crying, I collapsed on a bench and thanked the good Lord a million times that everything was well again. I assured Jose, as we had agreed, I would come to him in the evening directly from the train so that we could talk.
I still don't know who read my messages. Jose had been dead for two days at that point. Suicide.
What I suffered psychologically and physically as a result can hardly be put into words. I was and still am called a murderer, I had lost the other half of my life. Many times I believed that I could only escape the emotional hell in which I was trapped by my own suicide. Again and again I heard that they wanted to help me and the only thing I felt in response and yelled in my mind was: "You can't do this!
For six months I cried day and night until one Thursday morning in the shower a journey back to the light began. A mental trip, far into the darkness of the past, towards my own suicide in December 2014, which I had only just escaped by resuscitation.
An expedition out into an incredibly intoxicating present and away into a future that knows only one goal: To hike round the world, to plant trees in remembrance of suicide victims and to give comfort and strength to the bereaved, no matter how.
A voyage of discovery that is intended to encourage people affected by suicidal thoughts and proves that there is always a future, even if you are no longer able to see it.
A journey that should show that it is always worthwhile to believe in yourself, to trust the great movement in which all our lives are involved, to hope constantly and to fight for your ideals, goals and dreams.
I would like to take you along on this adventure. If you suffer from depression and sometimes think of death, I may give you hope and courage. With my own history and my experiences I strive to rekindle in you the will to live and to be well.
I invite you into my mentally challenging and exciting life.
Welcome to Trees of Memory.