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To the First Responder Who Gave Me Hope When I Was Suicidal

I’ll never forget the night I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Life had become too hard to handle. My great grandma had just passed away, my dating life was hard, abuse plagued my life at home and school. I was struggling with a paralyzed stomach but was being told it was all in my head. I was slowly losing my hold on reality. Slowly slipping away.

There were nights I would hide under my blankets, trying to escape the noises or the shadows of people present but not real. First it was hypomania, then psychosis that took over my life, my first semester of college. I couldn’t handle it any longer. So I wanted it to end. I planned my suicide and in that moment opened up the portal for judgments like, “You’re so selfish” and “You’re a coward.”

There was one guy that night who talked with me like I mattered. He cared. His actions spoke volumes to me that night and helped me through the darkest time in my life. So here is a letter I wrote, to the man who changed my life for the better. As a reminder that there are first responders who are not judgmental or uncaring, and who genuinely care about the lives of those they serve.

Dear Officer,

I’ll never forget the night I was home alone, crying and working up to ending my life. You and your partner knocked on my door. You asked to come in and then proceeded to ask if I could tell you what was wrong. I had stopped crying, but that question, the very idea of trying to put into words my distress broke me down even more. Suddenly, my rule of not crying in front of people became obsolete. What did it matter anymore? I was breaking down and couldn’t go on any longer.

You had me sit down on the couch while your partner stepped outside to talk with dispatch. You talked with me like I was another human being worthy of love. You talked to me with love and respect. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for giving me hope that life isn’t always going to be this dark, scary and hard. Your words let me know someone heard me that night and cared enough about me to remind me of my worth. You told me about your family history with mental illness, and in that moment, whether you knew it or not, you reminded me I’m not so broken that others won’t or can’t love me.

You reminded me there is life after this. There is life after contemplating suicide. There is life after my planned suicide. It’s not always going to be easy. In fact, some days and nights are going to be so hard I may hate myself for reaching out for help. Then your voice, your message comes to mind, and I know someone cares. Someone will miss me. You only saw my darkest storms within. You saw nothing really of the happy woman I am.

You should know it’s because of you and your kindness, your love, that I found my hope. You could have come in and repeated what others were saying. You could have blamed me for these thoughts and feelings and done the same thing, accused me of one thing or another as if I had complete control over my thoughts. Instead, you reminded me it’s not my fault — it’s a real illness, it’s mental illness, and there is no shame in living with it.

Because of you I have gone on to meet new friends and have new life experiences. I won’t say my life is easier since you gave me hope again, but I believe it’s worth it. After my diagnosis of bipolar disorder, I moved home and struggled with finding a doctor who could help me. I finally ended up in an outpatient program at the psychiatric hospital. I learned things about myself I didn’t know before.

There have been days and nights I have felt like I am so broken, dirty and unlovable. I didn’t understand how someone — anyone — could love me again. My mind felt broken. It was as if I was trying to look at myself, view my life, through a broken, cracked window with cobwebs on it.

Still I find myself thinking of you. Your demeanor. It was 10 at night, and you took the time to talk to me like nothing else mattered. The very idea that someone out there cares gave me hope, that maybe someone else cares, too. My family and friends care. The ones I met after that night care. I have gone on to write, and to somehow change lives. All I could see was darkness. No spark of light.

Thank you for that night. Thank you for the night you walked into my life and showed me nothing but love and respect. Thank you for showing me that someone does care, that there is hope for my life, and life is worth living. Thank you for taking my hand and helping me up. Thank you for doing your job the best way you could. I know it couldn’t have been easy for you, sharing your story or opening up about your family history. I know this because I, too, have a family history. This history is part of the reason I felt so horrible, why I hated my life, but maybe there was something to this that I didn’t understand yet. I have now lived both sides. I’m still living it. I’m learning that mental illness does not make any one of us worthless or unlovable. However broken we may feel does not determine our worthiness of being loved.

One last thing: I want you to know that I am enjoying life again. I’m fighting hard for the life I have, but I’m stable. I finally found a great therapist and a great psychiatrist. As it turns out, I’m allergic to the antipsychotics I tried, and antidepressants make me suicidal, but lithium is amazing. You talked with me like you had nothing better to do, and now here I am… My physical health hasn’t been the greatest, but I want to fight for my life because you showed me my life matters.

Thank you.


One grateful young woman

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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