Start the Conversation Now: Life is Precious

Update:  Matthew Benedict wrote this piece the day after he graduated from Middlebury College in May of 2015.  With his contagious and everlasting smile, most would never have known Matthew struggled deeply.  He died by suicide in July of 2019.  In the last several years of his life, he was extremely passionate about helping those who struggled and enlightening those who didn’t.  After Matthew’s passing, we started a fund in his memory to continue his message.  The fund is managed by the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo and can be found at onelastgoal.com.  If we only would have listened to his words a little better….                                                                                              -Bill and Anne Benedict

To the Middlebury Community and the World Community in light and memory of Nathan Alexander ’17 (I apologize to the family and friends. I let you down. I could have done more. We all could have done more. We are all to blame):

This post is inspired by two incredible people at Middlebury and two people I lost this year. Hannah Quinn ’16 for her courageous efforts to promote mental health on this campus. I only wish I was a fraction of how courageous you are. Also, to the well spoken and awesome Adam Milano ’15. For anyone at graduation, his commencement speech was the best thing I have heard in years. It is a reflection of the type of person he is and the special people that make Middlebury what it is. Again, I will never be able to touch the man he is and has always been. Next is my grandmother Melanie Benedict who I lost this past February. I hope that she is proud of me up in heaven and I dedicate my life to making her more proud. She provided me with my Catholic faith, which I am forever grateful and I need to strengthen. Finally, my incredible and awe inspiring Uncle Edward Carney. I strive to be the type of man that he was. He was taken from us suddenly in January from a heart attack and his funeral service made me realize how living your life for your family and friends is the way to make a difference in this world. I love my Aunt Nancy and cousins Alex, Kevin, and Philip dearly.

Before I begin I do not want to hear any words of how courageous I am because frankly it is the opposite. I wasted an opportunity to make positive change before this spring on campus and I will never have that back and this is an effort to try to salvage any sort of opportunity that still has not yet passed. It is much easier now that I graduated to tell my story so I apologize for not having more courage.

For those of you who do not know me my name is Matthew Benedict Middlebury College ’15 one of the captains of the football team here at Middlebury in 2014. I just graduated cum laude as an Econ major with a minor in political science and classical studies (if I had to do it again I would have double majored in Econ and Classics but I wasn’t ambitious enough). As mentioned before I was captain of the football team where I successfully played free safety under coaches Bob Ritter and Doug Mandigo. I was a 3-year starter and had nearly 200 tackles aggregate over my 4 years. I was named NESCAC player of the week twice where I made 19 tackles in a game and 20 tackles in another tying a school record. We won the NESCAC championship in 2013 and I was named 2nd team all conference in 2013 and 1st team all conference in 2014. I was a member of the JV hockey team and a proud participant of the mixed special Olympics basketball league with students and special Olympic athletes playing together. I was just named the recipient of the John P Stabile Trophy for the male athlete who most exemplifies the Middlebury spirit. I have a great family a great group of friends and have been in many relationships (just to give you a little background).

From the above paragraph everything appears incredible at the surface. Even when I read it I’m impressed although there is no way I am worthy of all the awards especially the John P Stabile trophy. I have been congratulated over and over by family and friends on any accomplishments and the list of awards is even longer than I presented. As my family referred to me growing up I was always the “golden boy”. Success was my middle name growing up and I was forever honored by any school or team I was a part of especially at my high school Nichols School in Buffalo, NY where I was a 3 sport captain and also a cum laude graduate. I got into Middlebury College in the December of 2010 and I had the world at my hands.

Although my list of successes is so great, I do not like to draw attention to myself and often get embarrassed in front of crowds or when other people talk about me. I have suffered two severe episodes of depression these past two years. These times have been the scariest times of my life and have lasted many months. Not scary because I was actually scared, but scary because I felt nothing at all. The emptiness was devastating and it was beyond frustrating not knowing what really caused it.

The first episode was right after the football season of 2013. The 2013 Panthers had just defeated the notorious Trinity College and ran the rest of the table to finish 7-1 and clinch a share of the NESCAC title. In that incredible win over Trinity, I was fortunate to be honored NESCAC defensive player of the week on part of our defensive effort after I had amassed an absurd 19 tackles. As my coach Doug Mandigo said, it was an all around defensive effort and it was an honor for the whole defense not just an individual effort. I also agreed with him that I was not the most athletic kid, I just seemed to listen and was pretty smart (maybe not as smart as people thought).

Anyways, the season ended and I was honored 2nd team all-NESCAC and then was voted team captain by my peers and teammates at our awards banquet a few weeks after the season ended. This was one of the worst things for me that made my depression even worse. My self-confidence and self worth tanked so much that I figured I was not worthy of any award or leadership position and any thoughts of the future made it worse. How was I supposed to be a captain when I didn’t even have confidence in myself? Or what would my teammates think when they found out about it? I wanted to hide from everyone and everything. I could not carry on a conversation of any depth and most conversations were people congratulating me. Congratulating me on what? Not being able to get out of bed? For taking hours and hours to work in a library only writing a paragraph? I had no reason to be congratulated. I wasn’t working out and I was setting a terrible example for my team. I stopped calling home, going out with friends, or having any joy in life. I withdrew from everyone and everything and could not even look the wonderful beautiful girl in the face to say I could not carry on our relationship after a few months leaving her heartbroken and confused. Every time I hid I later on regretted it more and more which made me feel even worse. Self-harming thoughts began to creep in and one night I even took 6 Advil in one sitting. I felt like everywhere I went people knew right away about me and were judging me ruthlessly. I refused to tell my friends and family the extent I was feeling because I was embarrassed. I was ashamed of myself.

Slowly things got better and my mood lifted as the spring picked up. I still felt embarrassed about everything and knew I lost all respect from all the friends that I didn’t text back hang out with or from the girl who I blew off multiple times when all she wanted to do was talk or my family that I didn’t call, or so I thought. Over the summer I was on a mission to never let it happen again and I worked out harder than ever in an attempt to make up for lost time. I woke up so early at 5 am full of energy and my wonderful mother and sister began to wonder if I was on drugs (I didn’t touch drugs). They even went so far as to ask my friends. The truth was I wasn’t. I just realized how low I was for so long that I was high on life. I began to think of all the ways I could make the world a better place and realized how valuable life was. I refused to tell people the extent of my feelings besides a very few select group of friends and family. Even then I was too embarrassed to reveal how bad things were. I shared a mild story and kept it G rated to try to protect any dignity I thought I had left. They may even be so surprised reading this now to know how bad it really was. I made some serious mistakes over the summer and hurt my family members because I thought I had become invincible. I even went so far as leaving my sister in a hostel in Rome to stay up all night and go gallivanting with a girl that I just met. This made my sister run from one hostel to another leaving her disturbed and hurt. I did not see the problem at the time. I was on top of the world and my drinking habits would not let me be stopped.

After the summer I vowed to be a great leader by example for the younger kids on the team and to never allow myself to get depressed again. I felt invincible and thought I could just will any bad feelings away because I was so strong and was having a great season. I mean, I was the captain of the football team I could do it all, or that’s what the word is about masculine football players. I refused to reach out for a true support system to get the adequate help if things went south again. My own pride got the best of me again in fear of embarrassment.

In the fall, the amazingly beautiful, smart, and courageous Hannah Quinn ‘16 published her story on depression and failed suicide attempt. I read her story and immediately felt a connection after I began to tear up. I emailed her right away revealing my struggles and asked her not to tell anyone. I was still scared and worried about social backlash especially from my teammates. She asked me to share my story to help out all guys who were suffering and I felt like it was the most emasculating thing in the world so I refused. I wanted to but I could not do that to myself and had to play football and go to school with everyone and freaked out over the chance that they might discover my softer side. I refused and never spoke with her again often avoiding her at parties because she knew the truth about me, which made me beyond vulnerable and uncomfortable.

I made the same exact mistakes two years in a row including withdrawing from a relationship with the same girl who took me back after how I treated her in the fall of 2013. I did not learn my lesson. I was such a coward. I was a terrible person. My teammates thought I was this great guy and to be honest I was not being that at all. I thought I was going to flunk out and my future was over. I thought I had made it all this way only to fail the first semester of my senior year. I thought I would let my school, team, friends, and ultimately family down. Some captain I was.

This time, however, my beautifully stubborn mother was more aware this time. She begged me to seek out counseling and after some time I finally listened realizing it was ok for me to do so and that I did not have to feel embarrassed. It definitely helped but I realized I was still not getting the help from the people that loved me: my friends and family. I continued to put on a front and remained mute on everything. I lied to my friends about what I was doing everyday. My siblings and parents knew something was up but I still refused to open up to everyone.

I heard about Nathan Alexander ’17 this spring and I had multiple conversations with people. “Oh shit, that’s crazy. I don’t know why anyone would ever do that.” I heard this over and over again and I refused to say anything. I even regretfully agreed with them. I thought my friends would think I was soft to take a stance and I had to give off a front of being the big tough football captain who had his life under control. It was really frustrating because I knew I could have made a difference. I could have been the one to listen to Hannah in the fall and help curb these feelings of suicide at Middlebury by creating solidarity and yet I didn’t. I was too concerned about my own life and what others thought of me. I was selfish.

The reasons for writing this are numerous. First, it provided me a little peace of mind. In some ways it is in memory of Nathan and an attempt to reconcile the fact that I feel partially to blame. The reality of the fact is the whole Middlebury community shares some blame(students, faculty, parents, and families). Not only is it the person struggling that needs to seek help, the burden also lays on friends and family that notice bizarre behavior (slowly backing away from social situations in my case). It is on you to ruthlessly reach out and share how much you love them. I was dying to share my feelings but never felt like I had the right opportunity. We as a community have to make that opportunity happen. Provide that platform. Continue the discussion. To anyone that I did not text back or seemed to be short with during my tough times, I apologize. You have every right to be disappointed in me. But I am pissed off you didn’t call me out more. You left me off the hook and I took the easy way out. If you chewed me out perhaps I would have broken down to you. I’m sure the same is true with Nathan.

This is also for everyone to realize it is not just psychopaths that suffer from depression. It is teammates, captains, attractive people, ugly people, athletes, narps, guys, girls, and everyone in between. Even the big bad captain of the football team can suffer. Do not follow in my path and be a coward. Open up. Ask for help. So many people you don’t even know want to provide help and care about you. Everyone at Middlebury loves you. This is true for anyone in any community. Be brave. Don’t let social pressure wear you down and make you afraid.

It is because of people like Hannah that we have to thank. She is the true reason I write this. If this can help one more person reach out for help or for friends and family to be more conscious it is well worth it. I realize it is too late given everything that happened to Nathan but it is time for Middlebury and the world to stand up. Start the conversation. No more hiding. No more silence. Speak up. Reach out. Tell people you love them. Make the community and the world a better place. Mental health is no fun but it is necessary to talk about. Don’t be like me. Don’t wait. Be brave.

I love you all and every member of our community is special and important. Do not be afraid. If you need anything ever let me know. That goes for friends, family, complete strangers, or anyone feeling worthless. I have an obligation to talk now and shoulder a burden that will live with me forever.

Please share with all friends at schools throughout the country that may need some encouragement or just so everyone can start the conversation. College is supposed to be the best years of your life but it is this notion that often lands you in trouble. You see what others have and often compare yourself.  Think of Nathan and of all the others who could have been saved. I still regret my actions and will never fully be able to forgive myself but I challenge you to not be like me. The world is full of amazing people like Hannah, Adam, my grammy Benedict, and Uncle Ed Carney. These people put me to shame. Be like them. This problem goes beyond the Middlebury bubble and the silence needs to end. If we want to make the world a better place we must act. We cannot be silent. Moderation is for cowards. Tell everyone you love them every single day and treat those you don’t know with the same love. It goes a long way and you never know what another may be dealing with. It goes a long way and I realize I now must dedicate my life to making the world a better place which I did so poorly a job of for some time. Please do so before you feel the same regret as I do now. Do not be selfish. The world is for everyone to share and live with friends and family. Act before it is too late.
Matthew Benedict

Middlebury College ’15

31 thoughts on “Start the Conversation Now: Life is Precious”

  1. Extremely powerful and emotional. Thank you for writing and while you may not think so, thank you for your courage and bravery.

    Like

  2. If you’ve graduated and are still using the term “narp” then it seems you still have a bit of maturity to gain. Also, not sure if all the depressed kids across the country want to hear about how great you were at football, you wrote more about your specific stats and rewards and how awesome you were than what actually was causing depression.

    Like

    1. Billy,

      Thanks for the message. I think you missed the point. The point is I am no expert. I do not know what caused the depression specifically but I know that being regarded as the “Golden Boy” and trying to live up and be the perfect child definitely played its roll. I talked about my accomplishments because I felt it was empty and did not give me any satisfaction in life. True satisfaction is caring and loving for others and making the world a better place which is what I was attempting in writing this piece. Thanks for the advice on my maturity level. I will definitely take that into consideration. As a young kid trying to make a difference in younger kids lives I think I was trying to appeal to them more. I am sorry I didn’t do it for you. No hard feelings. Hope things are well. Let me know if you wanna talk more I would love to hear some more advice on how to appeal to more people.
      Much Love,
      Matt

      Like

  3. Dear Matthew,
    You have made the world a better place. Please try to live for today. Our lives can be overwhelming so I find taking it one day at a time is very helpful. I will always keep you & your family in my prayers. I hope you can begin to find peace with the true bravery and kindness you have given to others. In mass the most important part for me is the sign of peace….”Peace I give to you….now offer each other the sign of peace”. True peace, meaning the best we can do every day. You have done a wonderful job of giving some peace & comfort to others. Thank you for your care and kindness to others.
    Jennifer Brady,
    Mother of Michael Brady (Middlebury Class ‘17.5)

    Like

  4. Thanks for publishing this. Others will see themselves in you, as you saw yourself in Hannah. You have made a difference!

    Like

  5. This is wonderful. I felt the same way in college (University of Maryland, College Park ’05) and my doctoral program (UT Austin 2012). The one thing I’d quibble with is that it’s your fault. I totally agree that society needs to do so much more! But, blaming yourself also can make things worse. When I was 8, my father killed himself in front of me. I wish my family wasn’t in denial (my grandmother still tells people it was a heart attack), and I think they have some blame. But as you say in your piece, it would have taken a lot of effort for others to get you to talk, and still, you would have needed to do a lot of work yourself to make that help. This isn’t meant to blame the victim, but instead to encourage you to let yourself off the hook (there’s a lot of self-criticism in this) and encourage you to keep working to make the world better for people with mental illness. Congrats on making it through and good luck in the future!

    Like

    1. Hey Jacqueline,
      Thanks for the message. You are so right! This isn’t about blame! Its more about getting more people talk and be self aware. I agree that I need to challenge myself more in order to get out of my comfort zone and move in the right direction. Let me know if you ever wanna talk.
      Much love,
      Matt

      Like

  6. So impressed and proud of you for being able to share this. It really is valuable and I hope it strengthens you in the same way that it will strengthen me whenever I feel stressed and out of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Matthew……thank u for opening all of our eyes! So happy u shared ur struggle…u are brave and u will help so many other kids and parents!
    I’m sure u knew my son Zach…….
    ❤️ Pattie Driscoll

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love you always here for you!😎
    Share your thoughts with all your cousins. Interesting – was it just counseling that helped you beside family support?

    Like

    1. Thanks a lot uncle Mark. I really think it is seasonal and hits really hard in the winter. I found even better than professional help was just being open with family and friends. Made me feel more normal when others said they struggled with similar things.
      See you soon. Best,
      Matt

      Like

  9. Your post is transformative. It reminds me of a poem a wise person once told me and I kept it to refer to often:

    “You may not think the world needs you
    But it does
    For you are unique
    Like no one that has ever been before
    Or will come after
    No one can speak with your voice
    Say your peace
    Smile your smile
    Or shine your light
    No one can take your place
    For it is yours alone to fill
    If you are not there to shine your light
    Who knows how many strangers will lose their way
    As they try to pass
    By your empty place
    In the darkness.”
    – Author Unknown

    Because of you, Matthew Benedict, and your post, I have passed by a special place of light and hope.
    The world needs you.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Please tell Matthew that these words meant so much to a mother watching her high school daughter struggling with depression. People think of depression as being more a part of the artsy type of person. It is SO important for athletes to talk about this. There is no ” type” regarding this condition. Depression can be inherited, or it can be the aftermath of an event in one’s life. It can also be a combination of both. Most of us have some event that leaves us depressed and one would think that would allow us to talk about it more as a society. How sad that we do not. Thank you for breaking the silence. Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You are very brave and, at the same time, compassionate to share your story. My son, Jeff, Middlebury class of 2009, took his own life on Nivember 9, 2010. His story is told on a blog called Kleinsaucer and on the Friends of Jeff Klein facebook page. Stay strong, both for yourself and everyone who loves you. The collateral damage that suicide leaves behind is devastating. Here is my article on that topic: http://www.lohud.com/story/news/health/2015/04/23/rich-klein-suicide-collateral-damage/26233427/

    All my best always,
    Rich Klein

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Rich,
      I am so sorry to hear that, but I think we are both in the same boat in wanting to reach out to other people and use it as motivation to make sure people feel more comfortable talking about it and really normalizing things. I would love to talk to you more about keeping a blog going and sharing more stories.
      Much love,
      Matt

      Like

  12. I had little depression in college, I was more into drugs and alcohol not as self medication, but as self enjoyment. And I made many mistakes because of these choices I made even before I came down with mental illness in my second senior year. I was the guy that knew better and gave up everything anyways. I had a scholarship to West Point for hockey that I wasted, and then I was a lazy student at Connecticut College and Canisius College for four more years. I lied cheated and stole, not because of mental illness, or because of the drugs, but because of my choices. That was fifteen years ago, and before I got mental illness. You can’t beat yourself up for mistakes, even though I know depression causes excess guilty feelings. And you can’t control other people. There are things I can do in life that no one else can, many as a result of my mental illness. ANd there are things in life I can’t do as a result of my mental illness, depression, that everyone else can. But someone said, do what you can do. It’s up to us to forgive others and then ourselves, which I have done in the succeeding years. And it’s up to god to judge.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Very powerful, Matt. Thank you for ripping off the bandage of silence from your wounds– you just never know how much of an impact your words may have on someone else. Keep being honest with yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Matt- Best wishes and luck to you. I have always admired you as an athelete and a human being. Stay strong.
    George Ostendorf JR ’83

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Besides being beautifully written, you touch on a subject so stigmatized by the world. Thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate the honesty of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Matt,

    When I was a freshman in high school, my mother went to rehab for alcohol abuse, bulimia, sex addiction and bipolar disorder. I was scared shitless and didn’t let my friends, teammates, teachers or family members know how fucked up I was. I tried to be a “man” and not let anyone know how I was feeling – big mistake. The relationships with my family members suffered, my grades got worse and I started smoking pot almost everyday. I knew deep down that I was really messed up. But from the outside looking in, I still looked like a Golden Boy – smoking pot, smart, varsity hockey player, captain of the lacrosse team, dating the class president, and I got into Hamilton College and Johns Hopkins.

    Fast-forward to college. A new external environment didn’t change my internal framework. My emotional instability found awful outlets in my newfound freedom. Regular, heavy drinking. Emotionally abusive conversations with my long-distance girlfriend. No communication with my family. Hard drugs. Oddly enough, things still probably looked good on the outside – good grades in the English and Math departments and I walked onto the Hamilton Varsity Ice Hockey Team as an 18 year old. Still, I was so fucked up and never let anyone in.

    By junior year I couldn’t take it any more. I was using Xanax regularly at this point and I knew I had to remove myself from the college environment. But, I couldn’t take a semester off because that would mean admitting my problems (drug and emotional) to my family. I decided to study abroad in New Delhi for a semester, in hopes of cleaning myself up.

    I went to India with a large supply of Xanax from my doctor, but that went quickly. Every day in New Delhi I saw hundreds of homeless people, many of them children, many of them starving, begging, hooked on glue, and stricken with polio (they can’t afford the vaccinations). I lived with a family in a homestay in a cockroach infested apartment in New Delhi, smoking hash, drinking liquor from the bottle and popping downers. Every night. For 100 nights. Fuck. They produce Xanax and Ambien in Indian factories – you can buy them for pennies at any pharmacy with no prescription. I went to India to clean myself up, but unbeknownst to me I landed in a limitless supply. I still didn’t let anyone in. How could I be so troubled and sad when I was born with everything, surrounded by millions of people who were born on the broken streets, next to open sewers, cooking there food over burning trash? I don’t know, but I was. Undeniably and guilt-fully. I began keeping a journal at this point.

    Fast-foward back to America. Reverse culture shock. New lease on life, borderline manic (I have always harbored suspicions I am bipolar (aka manic depression)). I got off the downers because I wanted to live faster and embrace my good fortune in life. Still I didn’t deal with the underlying problems. Out with the downers, in with the others. Raves. Electronic music festivals. Cocaine. Ecstasy. LSD. Ketamine. A summer with multiple 3 day hard drug benders. Fucked up on 4 hard drugs at the same time once or twice. Fuck.

    The last time I took E was my senior year of college – I woke up with a hangover like no other. Suicidal thoughts for over a month. I felt so bad about the damage I had done to myself. So much guilt and hopelessness. So many hours spent online looking at the long-term side effects of drug use. So much self-hatred. Worst period of my life.

    I opened up to my brother and sister. I also was blessed to have friends and teachers with whom I was completely and utterly open with. I would be probably be dead without them. I cleaned myself up with their help and love. Its been 2 years since I have taken downers, 18 months since I have taken LSD, ketamine or ecstasy. I graduated college and got a job in California. I moved out to San Francisco without knowing anyone in the city or surrounding area. I was able to leave old habits and parasitic relationships behind. I found yoga, running, surfing, and biking. I fell back in love with reading and writing in my journal regularly. Most importantly yoga – it helps me so much. I have been in California for a year now and its been the best year of my life.

    I still smoke pot (almost everyday) and drink alcohol. Im so far from perfect but I have started to learn that hating myself and regretting my past decisions is not productive. I have great days now and I finally feel some control over my life. Like you, I feel the need to share my experience and try and help others who are dealing with the same shit. I hope one day to turn my journal into a book. Its 3 volumes now, but I have never let anyone read it. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and enabling me to do so too. I believe that sharing is an essential part of the healing / growing / maturation process. But I am still scared shitless to share. Thanks so much for starting the conversation.

    One love, Matt!

    Like

  17. Thank you for sharing your story, Matt, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. It takes courage to admit mistakes, and strength to take steps to do what you can.
    I, too, had my first episodes of depression during my time at Middlebury and denied it as much as I could. I now speak with groups about living with mental illness through the National Alliance on Mental Illness in an attempt to decrease the stigma around having mental illness and being treated. Your instincts are right on — the sooner it is recognized and treated, the better.
    Please keep treating yourself with the love, forgiveness and generosity of spirit you so clearly have for others. You, like everyone else, are irreplaceable and unique.

    Like

  18. Matt,

    Thank you for writing this. Stay in contact with other people — seeing them, being with them, face to face. This time after graduation is hard for all graduates. Be nice to yourself. Give yourself time to figure out what you want to do next. You’re in my thoughts and in those of many other people, not because of your accomplishments on the field or as a student. But because you’re a fellow traveler in life, just doing the best you can with what you have. Ram Dass wrote that the best we do for one another is walk each other home. I wish you fellow walking companions. Stay well.

    Like

  19. Matt, This is a powerful example of how writing, and sharing, your story not only helps you process through your own healing journey, but moreover allows you to help others. Thank you.
    Jennifer Crystal ’00
    Visiting J-Term Professor, Healing Through Writing

    Like

  20. Mathew,
    I hope you still remember me, Jaweed.
    First of all, I am really glad to read this piece because I had to read it long time ago when you wrote in May.

    To be honest when I read Hannah Quin story very long time ago, I wanted to speak up about my 14 year old mistake of attempting suicide. But I just couldn’t. This was a mistake that I never forgave myself for it but kept the guilt within me. This was because my father died in a car crash right after a week after my attempt. He never spoke to me until his death. So I never got the courage to apologize to him. I always wanted to confess to everyone that suicide is not the way because it will ruin many things.

    Today, I wish I spoke up much earlier to stop people I cared about. 2 FRIENDS, 2 Lives, 2 Youthful lives! Gone!

    I felt very guilty about Nathan too. I used to have him come over to my place with other friends hang out and to drink and party almost every other weekends. But once he was gone, I felt I was to blame because I could have treated him far better to change his mind. I could have been the real friend who cared about how he felt. I kept the self-blame to myself, and I asked a professor to let me withdraw from his class by accepting an F. Meanwhile I kept hearing bad news happening in Afghanistan. Until this summer in July, I felt everything in my world falling apart, which was, so I was about to drown myself in Alaska while taking a class with Middlebury. I chose to live longer but after a week I heard a classmate and friend in Afghanistan shot himself in the head, I felt more even more guilty for not speaking up. So I got another F grade for summer because I just couldn’t submit any paper.

    Finally in late October, I spoke up at Wilson Hall in front of everyone including President Patton and many others both about Nathan and about myself (the attempt in the summer), but I feel even the Middlebury board shut me/silenced me. This is because I never got to speak to the President to talk through about why students come to Middlebury happy, some of the leave unhappy and depressed. Maybe there is some problem with the way counseling and stigmas work on campus.

    Today, Middlebury college claims that because I received two Fs in a row, two academic probation, then I am on Academic failure. I come to Middlebury as a class of 2015, but unfortunately, today I am almost dropped out.

    I learned my listen that when I spoke up, I spoke too loud and it cost me everything or every opportunity I had. I even think that Middlebury College did not want to have me on campus because they were scared of me attempting suicide due to the tragedies happening to me, my family and a friend who was killed by ISIS in November. I think Middlebury College did not want to have two students death. Because Nathan attempted in April 02 and I will never forget that day. I attempted July in August 9th trying to drown in a lake at 3 am while knowing that bears could have attacked me.

    You know what happened to me afterwards once I spoke up, I ended up in a forced hospital and the therapists, counselors or the middlebury community who were supposed to treat me like a family left me stuck there. The docter at hospital told me that when he called and asked my therapist, she thinks I am manic depressed and bipolar. I called Middlebury College and begged them to get me out of this place, they simply told me that I am no longer a Middlebury student. I was taking 15 pills a day in the hospital while feeling that everything is over medicated. I was simply sad about losing yet a third friend within six months and I had to be sad because sorrow is not always depression to the extent that they label me with manic depression and bipolar. How should I reconcile the fact that Middlebury College didn’t let me speak up just because it didn’t want to hear that Middlebury failed to stop yet another of its student from attempting suicide after Nathan…I mean,,,me….I even think it was not good for Middlebury ratings if it let me speak up openly. Today I know there is a tree for Nathan right in front of Ross dining hall where I used to live for months and couldn’t understand that why Middlebury didn’t give a damn about me and my attempt. Instead, now I have to accept forced academic failure and walk around in the mountains of California to heal.

    It is a month that I am not taking any pills but I am healing by believing in myself away from everyone I know. It is working, it is helping, it is even making me think that I barely have any issue except some injustice imposed on me by the people I trusted-Middlebury community.

    I thank you for your speaking up and I always from freshman year thought that you were a quite person but deep inside knew that you are a great soul.

    Chin up, you are not alone,
    Jaweed Ahmadi (Midd’?)

    Like

  21. Matt Benedict took his life on July 1, 2019.

    I did not know him and learned of this blog through a colleague. I am so sorry for the pain he has suffered. It is difficult to understand depression and what drives someone to take their own life. It took him so much courage to write this blog and expose his vulnerabilities. Difficult to understand that he continued to struggle with depression and ended his pain. Prayers to his family and friends.

    RIP Matt Benedict – you will not be forgotten.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s