A few years ago, just like many of us once in our lifetime, I was depressed. There was nothing that I wanted to get out of bed for. The things that I used to be really excited about were no longer engaging me. I was struggling to take care of my own body, to a point where I didn’t want to eat or drink anymore. My body was aching and deteriorating. So, what I did was – something that I considered to be an innocent solution to my problem – and started to take pain medication to relieve some of the symptoms that I experienced. ‘It’s just a pill.’ I thought.
Initially, it did wonders, I felt unstoppable – like I could take on the world. However, rather quickly I noticed that my body was giving alarm signals. My headaches were getting severe, and I felt constantly sick in my stomach. I chose to ignore those signals and counter with an increased dose, totally convinced that it would heal me. The delusion that I didn’t even know I had was slowly taking the best of me. This led to the point where I could not live another day without taking pain medication. Over time, this escalated to keeping lists of pharmacies I could visit next, so they wouldn’t become suspicious and start asking me questions about why I needed a refill again for the fifth time in a week. Eventually, I got to a place where I always endured agonising pain.
A pivotal moment took place. On a summer night, around 1 a.m., I was all by myself at a train station attempting to find my way home. Even though it was a sultry night, I was shivering from all the anxiety. My cell phone was almost dead and I was heavily intoxicated. It was all incredibly hard to comprehend where I was and where to go. As I was trying to understand the information on the departure screen for which train I could take, suddenly the penny dropped. My eyes widened while my heart skipped a beat as soon as the awareness kicked in. It occurred to me that there was only one train still leaving to my destination within that exact minute. In this panic mode, I began running as if I were chased by a troop of lions who hadn’t eaten in days.
During this adrenaline rush, when I almost reached the top of the stairs to the platform, I already heard the wheels rolling on the tracks that the train just started to drive away. While I got on the platform completely out of breath, I was watching the train leave. In a split second, I felt like all my hopes were crushed. But then, accidentally I made eye
contact with someone on the train. In my chaotic state of mind, I was completely clueless who I was even looking at. As soon as the situation progressed, I realised that it was the train conductor. They sprinted to the front of the train and opened the cabin from where the train driver was operating the vehicle. On their direct orders, they stopped the train for me and invited me to come aboard.
When I got out of the train operator’s cabin and walked into the passengers’ area, everyone turned their head towards me. You could tell that nobody ever witnessed something like this. Well, to be fair, neither did I. As I was looking for a place to sit, I could barely believe that this actually happened. Was I really on the train? Did someone just do that for me? I had to pinch myself a couple of times to make sure I was alive and that it was real.
After I woke up that next day, I felt relatively peaceful, it was a very muted feeling – almost like the quietness on the day right after a turbulent storm had passed. I hadn’t felt like that in a very long time. I even forgot that feeling existed in that moment. But all I cared about was that it felt good. It felt good to experience this serenity. For the first time, I felt strong enough to confront myself with something that I was so incredibly scared of. Something that was destroying me from the inside.
The rollercoaster of emotions during the aftermath of my realisation was intense. I was filled up with guilt and anger because I completely abandoned and betrayed myself. All that bottled-up rage could find an escape outlet with the explosive instrumentals and passionate lyrics of Lady Gaga’s song: Marry The Night. When I was lying in bed and couldn’t sleep at night, I would watch the music video. As I was mouthing the lyrics, I always envisioned myself walking around that same parking lot in the pouring rain while lighting abandoned cars on fire with gasoline, just like Lady Gaga did. Marry The Night became my anchor; it became something that I could hold onto. This song provided me with solace when I felt worthless. A song that inspired me to choose life over death. It helped me with one of the hardest things I ever had to do, which was to embrace my deepest and darkest moments and transform those into acceptance and healing.
I took this inspiration with me. But it took bravery to admit that I couldn’t do it alone, so I decided to reach out to professional help, because I needed somebody who could hold me accountable and support me along the way. Of course, this was only the dawn of the tumultuous and exhausting road to recovery. But, now that I am fully recovered, I realise that this particular situation changed my life for the better. I am still so deeply moved by this unexpected act of kindness. That’s why this transformational experience truly signifies the power of kindness for me. To this day, it still brings tears to my eyes and for a long time I thought about how I could possibly pay the strangers back. Only later, I realised that that is not what kindness is about. The epitome of kindness is selflessness; doing something for someone without expecting anything in return.
So the next time you are outside, consider surprising a stranger with an act of kindness – no matter how big or small – because you could save someone’s life. And to the train operators, I say thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.