Monday was the beginning of this year’s Suicide Awareness and Prevention Week. There is still so much stigma around mental illness and suicide that I feel very vulnerable writing this; but it’s important, so I will.
This upcoming February will be the three-year anniversary of the last time I attempted suicide. The three-year anniversary of the last time I downed an entire bottle of pills with the intention of not waking up. It was not the first time I had done that, but as of now it was the last. And I intend to keep it as the last time that I ever did attempt.
I look back on that day frequently. The desperation and absolute hopelessness that I felt. How I pretended everything was okay until I was alone and I didn’t stop to think at all; I just wanted out. I think about that day, and then I think of the people I have lost in the last year who completed suicide. I think about how they must have felt the same way, how incredibly awful they must have felt.
I have seen the quote, “dying is easy, it’s living that’s hard,” so many times in my life. I want to make it very clear how that is absolutely bullshit. To sit and decide to take your own life is not easy. To be so absolutely hopeless that there seems to be nothing you should live for is not easy. It is painful.
Getting help? Also very, very hard. Reaching out to anyone is hard, but when you feel like there’s nothing left that’s worth living for – talking becomes more challenging than ever. Finding someone who feels safe enough to talk to is scary. But it is so worth it. I’m not going to be a broken record and say “it gets better,” but I will say it gets easier. Not at first. At first it’ll feel awful. But slowly, breathing will feel okay. There will be a handful of things that make you feel like living. You’ll learn to communicate. There will be days that you’re okay with life. Then, there will be days that you like life. Then, there may even be days that you love life.
Does it completely go away? Not necessarily. But your own negative self-talk gets quieter. Not everyday is a good day. There will be days when you are scared or tired, where you don’t want to continue doing the work. But the work will always be worth it. The work will keep you here, living and breathing, with the people that care about you and the things you care about.
If you’re struggling, there is no “dumb reason” to stay alive. Nobody can feed the dog tomorrow if you aren’t there? Awesome, you feed that dog! There’s a cool concert at the end of the month? Looks like you need to go to it! Really want to see the outcome of a project you’ve been working on? Cool, hang out for a while! Promised your friend that you’d see them tomorrow for coffee? Well it looks like you have to stay! Too tired to figure it out? Go to bed instead! You don’t want your family/friends/partner to go through that experience? Living it is!
That may seem ridiculous, and so simplified. But if you can’t live for yourself right now, live for whatever you can. Live for others, an event, an object, a pet – live for whatever you need to live for.
In that time, though, that you are able to put off attempting – you need to talk to someone. You do not have to live feeling like you want to die. It will take so much hard work, but someday you’ll be able to look back and think “I’m so glad I got through that.” There is a future version of you, thanking this you for staying alive. There is a future version of you that is proud of you for staying alive. And there are present versions of so many people (including me) that are proud of you, right now, for staying alive.
Everything would be different if you did not exist.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Online Suicide Prevention: imalive.org
Text-based Prevention: Text “GO” to 741741
Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860