In honor of National Suicide Awareness Month, I'm finally talking openly about my experiences. And this is...so hard for me to write.
And not just because it's hard to write about these things. In fact, I'm worrying more about my various family members and their reactions to this, because no one knew I was going through this. Feeling this way. And I know they'll blame themselves for not being there more or making me feel like I could come to them, when the complete opposite is true.
At one point in my life, I felt suicidal.
I don't exactly recall when the suicidal thoughts started. At best, the first time I remember having a suicidal thought was senior year of high school. It always began as a spiral, tipped off by some anxious line of thinking, usually ending like this:
I can't talk to anyone about these feelings. They'll freak out.
I can't go back to therapy again.
God I'm so broken.
I don't want to keep living anymore.
I always felt inadequate compared to those around me. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life, while all my friends had even an idea, enough to declare a major in college. They knew what they were good at, while I floundered and failed.
I never felt like I could truly talk to my friends, not even my best friend at the time. I knew she and my other friends had their own mental things to deal with, and I didn't want to become a burden to them. Another thing they had to worry about on top of themselves. I felt that I had to be the strong one for them...but didn't have anyone to do the same for me.
I certainly couldn't talk to my parents. We just didn't have that kind of relationship back then. It would be a long time before we did.
I was scared to return to therapy. I had a negative association with therapy from past experiences attending it, and refused to go back. It would take a long time--and more negative experiences--before I conceded to returning to therapy.
I constantly felt weak and broken. My happy-go-lucky attitude around my friends, the persona I put up around everyone at school always felt as fake as it was. But I clearly did a good enough job at acting like I was okay, since no one ever checked in on me. No one realized how badly I was struggling. I didn't even write about any of what I was experiencing in a journal, as if writing it down somewhere would make it that much more real. As if writing it down would make me officially broken and crazy, unable to handle things on my own like everyone else did.
It all added up to a point where, in my lowest depressed moments, that last thought would pop into my head:
I don't want to keep living anymore.
I'd get so tired of pretending that things were okay. I'd feel so tired of not having a clue about my life and what I wanted to do with it. Of not living up to everyone's expectations, real or imagined. I'd get so tired of constantly pushing through day-to-day life, feeling all alone, like no one cared about me.
It became all too easy to want to just die. To stop feeling everything at once.
The funniest thing is, I didn't want to actually kill myself. I simply wanted numbness, to stop feeling so much, so intensely. Death, to my troubled mind, just naturally seemed like the perfect way for all those thoughts to just stop. For all the mental damage I was dealing with to simply end.
I couldn't picture myself physically doing the act. Not to mention, I knew that my death would bring so much pain to those who loved me, that I couldn't possibly bring myself to hurt them like that. To bring such a horrible thing upon them. I couldn't do that to my parents, my sisters, who didn't deserve to lose a daughter, a sister. My boyfriend, who was staying by my side through it all--who wasn't and somehow still hasn't been pushed away by my mental struggles--and clearly cared about me, who clearly wanted me to stay in his life.
The biggest person I couldn't do it to was my grandma. She was always my biggest supporter, a best friend when I had no other friends in my life. She got me through so much and was the biggest constant in my life. My grandma always knew just what to say, or not say, when I was upset. She meant the world to me, and vice versa. I was her first grandbaby, and have a special place in her heart. I could never, ever hurt her in such a way. Even as I write this now, long after I've stopped having those thoughts, it makes me to cry to think I could ever hurt my grandmother that way.
In those moments, when I'd feel so low those suicidal thoughts appeared in my mind, I'd also remember all those who loved me--even though it would feel like no one actually cared about me.
After four years of having these thoughts, I finally hit rock bottom mentally. Not in the sense that I finally felt like I would do it--but I finally realized I couldn't go on feeling these things, dealing with my anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts without help.
It's been a long time since I last wished I could just die. I'm getting help, and starting antidepressants helped significantly in stopping my brain from tossing those negative thoughts around.
To my family, Grandma, Josh:
Thank you. You became my light at the end of a tunnel, even when I couldn't see that light. Even when I didn't even realize it was there. I LOVE YOU.
To those who continue to struggle everyday:
YOU ARE LOVED.
YOU ARE IMPORTANT.
YOU ARE WORTHY OF LIVING.
YOU MEAN SOMETHING TO SOMEONE, EVEN ONE PERSON, IN THIS WORLD.
You are all of these things and so much more. This will pass, and you will be okay. I know it can feel impossible that you'll ever feel okay again, but I promise you, you will.
Reach out to someone.
I know this can be one of the hardest things to do. You may feel like no one will understand, or that people will judge you for feeling as you do. It's true, they may not fully understand. But do your best to help them understand, by explaining as much as you can. Whatever amount you can explain to them will make a difference. It will help them, help you.
If you don't have someone in your life that you feel you can talk to, I highly recommend calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. I know this can feel impersonal and like they're only saying things because it's their job to, and maybe that's mildly true. But this is a whole organization of people who work tirelessly to help people like us realize we have things to live for. That WE are worth living for. If that doesn't say "we care," I don't know what does.
You are worth living for. And I love you, whoever you are, even though we don't know each other. I love you because I know how hard this is, and we all need to know someone out there cares. I'm proud of you for making it this far.
You will be okay.
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW ARE STRUGGLING WITH SUICIDAL THOUGHTS AND/OR TENDENCIES, REACH OUT IMMEDIATELY. NO ONE SHOULD GO THROUGH THIS ALONE. SUICIDE IS SERIOUS.
National Suicide Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255 - available 24/7