In honor of today being World Suicide Prevention Day, I wanted to share my own story.
Now, I realize that this may come as a shock to some of you who know me now, but I have attempted suicide. I have spent days of my life contemplating suicide, and have made very detailed plans to end my own life. Luckily, the majority of the time I was able to come to my senses and not carry through on those plans, and the one time I did actually attempt it, I didn’t have a very good plan. You could argue that this indicates that I wasn’t all that serious about actually wanting to die, and I suppose you could make a case for that. On the other hand, if I had, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. So whether I was serious or not, I spent a large portion of my early adulthood plagued by suicidal thoughts, so the subject is very important to me.
When it comes to the subject, I consider myself to be very lucky. I know of others who were not so lucky. I once read that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. That has stuck with me through the years because it’s true. When I was younger, and first coming to grips with my childhood, and the very real effects it was having on me as an adult, including bouts of major depression, which lead to suicidal thoughts, I was sure that this would never end. I thought I was destined to carry around the pain of depression, and to live the life of a victim for the rest of my life. I thought that because I didn’t know anything else.
I was an idiot.
I took a look at what had happened to me, and what I had already been through, and decided that was all life had to offer. That was all I had to offer. Despite the fact that I survived everything, and had made it to adulthood without much help. and almost no support, I was not worthy to live any longer. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I thought I was alone, and that my emotional state would never change. (It did change, frequently, even then.) The truth is that I was suffering from depression, I was not thinking clearly, and had managed to get lost inside my own head, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure, constantly reminding myself of all the ways I didn’t measure up.
Of course, now I can see that I was never alone. Millions of people survive childhood abuse all over the world. Millions deal with depression and other mental illnesses as well. I believed myself to be a freak, when in fact, I was just one of many who were struggling and dealing with these things every day. Now I can see that I was healing all the time. Oh it wasn’t always pretty, and it held plenty of painful moments for me, but I was changing, because life is all about change. The truth of the matter can be stated in certain, mathematical terms:
Life + Time = Change
That’s what makes suicide such an illogical choice. When I was suicidal, I saw it as the only solution because things were never going to change, not realizing that I was the one guaranteeing that things would never change, by taking away the things that always lead to change. Of course, that logic escaped me, because I was making decisions emotionally from my own warped perspective. That’s why the best thing you can do, if you’re having suicidal thoughts, is to please, please, get out of your own head and talk to someone. Get help. Call a suicide hotline, go see a therapist, whatever it takes. What is going on in your head right now is wrong. You need to get a different perspective and realize that the decision you’re about to make is not the solution. Staying alive is the only thing that gives us hope for positive change.
Looking back now, I can clearly see that the life I am living now is one I couldn’t have even imagined then. It’s completely different than the life I thought I would have in my 40s in large, and small, ways. I am also keenly aware that if I had my way back then, none of this would have ever happened. I wouldn’t have had the experiences I’ve had now, I wouldn’t have had a chance to meet and get to know all the wonderful people that have been part of my life over the years, and any positive impact I’ve had on them, or on readers here, would likewise have never happened. My story would have ended, a simple statistic, a tragic event that others would be left to deal with. I’m glad that’s not the legacy I left behind. Don’t let it be the legacy you leave behind. The people who care about you deserve more.
You deserve more.