To the One Contemplating Suicide
To the one contemplating suicide,
In 2005 all I wanted to do was sleep. Every time I laid my head down, though, the racing thoughts were endless. I was tired and exhausted but couldn’t manage to sleep more than an hour or two here or there. I was up all night, every night, even though I desperately wanted to be asleep. The nights were hell, and the days were hopeless.
I believed life was always going to be this horrible. I stopped smiling and laughing, and it was an effort to even go to work. The psychiatrist diagnosed me with major depressive disorder. As the year went on, I believed my only relief would come from stopping my pain permanently, and I began spending my days contemplating how to end my life.
I didn’t think much about those I would leave behind or what impact it would have on them. I reasoned that others might even be better off without me. Mostly, I just thought about ending my pain. I was single, had no children and lived in a different state than my entire family. They wouldn’t even notice I was gone. So, one day at work, I spent my time writing two goodbye letters — one to my dad and one to a friend. I told them not to blame themselves, I just didn’t want to be alive anymore. I signed the letters, sealed the envelopes and addressed them. That night I would end it.
As I drove home from work that evening the irony was not lost on me. I hated my mom my entire life for killing herself and there I was, goodbye letters in hand, about to do the same. I didn’t care, though, I just wanted to be done with this pain. When I got home my roommate noticed I was not in a good space and kept asking me what was wrong. Eventually, after much coaxing, I told her, “I have been planning to end my life for weeks, and today is the day. I’m done.” We talked, I cried, I told her how hopeless I was and how I just wanted to be done with life forever. She said some of those typical things people say to those contemplating suicide, “You matter. You are loved. Life will get better. We are not going to be better off without you. Blah blah blah.” I didn’t believe her, but I eventually promised to stay alive that night and see my psychiatrist and therapist the next day. She kept a close eye on me in the days and weeks that followed.
The doctor increased my meds, and I saw my therapist regularly. I signed countless contracts stating I would not harm myself over the next few months, and I yelled at God for allowing me to be “just like my mom” despite countless determinations to be nothing like her.
It was miserable and hard, and most of the time I thought, “What’s the use?” Over time, though, things began to change. There was a glimmer of hope that said maybe, just maybe, life won’t always be this bad. I no longer obsessed over ending my life, and I started to hang out with friends again. I found myself smiling more, sleeping regularly and even looking forward to life at times. Eventually, the doctor stopped my meds too.
Today, 11 years later, I am married with three children, and I love my life. I am so thankful I didn’t end it that night in October of 2005. It brings tears to my eyes now to think of all I would have missed out on.
To those of you that are contemplating suicide, let me speak some truth to you for just a moment. You matter. You are loved. Life can and will get better. It will not always be like this. I know it is painful and you are hopeless and desperate. You want to simply stop the pain. I understand.
As I stand here now, having made it through the darkest time I could ever imagine, I can tell you my mind wasn’t working too well if suicide was even an option. At the time I thought it was the only way, but now that I am in a much better place, I can see my mind was lying to me. My mind was telling me I had no value and no worth and nobody would care if I died. My pain was suffocating, and death seemed like the only release. My sick mind was not able to think clearly even though I felt confident in my decision to end my life. My mind was lying to me.
I now work with people who have lost a loved one to suicide, and as I talk with these folks I hear how the pain they encounter daily is overwhelming. They desperately miss their loved ones and blame themselves for not saving the one who chose to die. I know this pain firsthand. I think my mom’s suicide played a significant role in me wanting to end my own life. The shame and guilt I carried from her suicide were too much to bear and combined with my own depression, it engulfed me.
If you are contemplating suicide, please don’t. I can tell you first hand it has been 25 years since my mom’s suicide and her choice to leave me behind still has an impact on me. Those who consider suicide often say, “You don’t get it” to others when talking about the pain they endure each day. Well, I do get it. I had those goodbye letters written and addressed. Believe me, I get it.
Consider for a moment though that maybe you are the one who doesn’t get it. Maybe your brain is sick like mine was and it is telling you to end your life because life will never get better and nobody will miss you anyway. Consider that maybe you are not well if your brain is even considering suicide. This is nothing to be ashamed of. I say this because I was confident my life was hopeless, and today I repeat, “I love my life” on a regular basis. There is help out there, and it is not weak to seek it.In fact, it is courageous.
I will forever be thankful my roommate was observant that night and kept me alive. I think she saw my value when I could not. She knew the truth when I couldn’t grasp it. She refused to let suicide be part of my story again. Don’t let suicide be your story. You matter. You are loved. Life will get better.