The Arrow of Suicide Became My Flower of Hope
The voice mumbles a fight to die, not a fight to stay alive. And as each day passes I await for the string to detach, for the “courage” to build up and tell me to try again. And that clock, that clock will keep ticking till it comes. “Kill yourself, Kassi. Kill yourself” — five words that have been playing on auto-pilot since I was 14 years old. Words that sound selfish to some and attention-seeking to others became hope to me and some days still are – hope that there is freedom from this uphill battle that living with a mental illness brings.
I have attempted suicide three times. Out of those three times, none of them were believed to be real. I was told over and over again that if I wanted to die, I would have died. It has gotten to the point now that if I tell the doctors I’m feeling suicidal they say “that is nothing new” and send me home. No help.
I probably should start off by mentioning I am safe. You see, hearing this voice every day and actually attempting are two different things. I have come to realize this continuous suicidal mumble in my head is a part of me, I would go as far as to say it is second nature, but it is not me and I can — for the most part — separate myself from it. Don’t get me wrong, it is always there. And whenever I’m down or do something wrong, his voice becomes stronger. When my scale of intensity gets to be too much, I can feel the urge to attempt come on. I know the feelings, I know what to expect, I know when to seek help.
And I have sought help. I went to professionals in the mental health field. I have been labeled and prescribed medication after medication after medication. I was told that I have major depressive disorder, that I have generalized anxiety disorder, that I have obsessive compulsive disorder, that I have body dysmorphic disorder, that I have bipolar disorder and that I have borderline personality disorder – I am sure that I am missing a few. It is interesting how with each visit and with different therapists, a new diagnosis is revealed. So really, who am I? In which category do I fit?
I cannot remember life without these thoughts, these urges. Since I was 14, I have been terrified and reliving these moments over and over again. The doctors were not helping me, so I turned to self-harm. I would cut myself or injure my body to distract my feelings from my head while turning the pain into something more physical for a little while – it helped, but it was only a quick fix. The emotions always came back. Nothing worked for very long.
My belief system was so aligned with fear and I was ready and willing to surrender myself to the chaos. The strongest part of my mind was insisting, “I do not want to be free. I do not want to be happy.” Eventually, suicide became my answer to everything. I could feel I was more and more out of control. My depression had spiraled so far down that all of my self-hate had turned inward. I wanted to die. I wanted it more than anything. This pain was too much.
I remember vividly the last time suicide was forefront on my mind. Mostly because the line “where there is despair, I may bring hope” from a prayer kept repeating itself in my anxious loop of thoughts. It was that morning I woke up and realized all of the time I spent wishing for death, the wounds that were consuming me were actually healing in themselves. My triggers became evident, my emotions were in the limelight, my memories were being shared with therapists and I started to learn about who I was. The universe was not ready for me to give up and here it was creating a moment for me to reflect on my path. This was my assignment. Here I could learn and choose to heal.
This was my time to rewrite my narrative and, in dong so, I found it important to remember:
1. Turn your arrow into a flower. In Buddhist teaching, it is said that when things fall apart we can use the opportunity to be open and question what just happened and what will happen next. I thought I was spending all of my time thinking about death, when really I was learning about my triggers, emotions and figuring out who I was. I was opening up the view to understanding what happens when I have the urge to attempt, allowing me to put prevention in place for whatever may happen next.
2. Be compassionate towards yourself. You, yourself, may be the only person who can show the validation and acknowledgment that you need — in terms of believing your pain is real. We know it is real. Don’t let anyone change that. Treat yourself the way you would treat anyone else in your position. You are a caring and loving person — show yourself that respect. In the long run, what we seek is for someone to listen. Write. Dance. Draw… there are so many ways to have your voice heard. My vise is poetry and sometimes the only audience is me and the paper, but that is OK; because, the paper does a great job of not judging.
3. Don’t get caught up in trying to fit into a category. I struggle with this one. As mentioned above, being diagnosed with so many different illnesses make it hard to understand who I am. But, the reality is – I am me. Not depression. Not anxiety. Not bipolar. Just me. And I will be OK with that. You can be too. Society has built us into this reality that we all need to fit in to be successful. What I would like to know is what, truly, does success look like to you? Who do you, truly, want to be? No limits, be who you are inside and out.
I hope that people can see that I am not living this way to hurt anybody else and my attempts were in no way about making the lives of those around me worse. Sometimes the suffering becomes too painful and the rope you were once, so tightly, holding onto easily slips out of your hands. Today, I feel as though my toolbox is full of options to help me find that rope in times of need.
You can tell me I am beautiful, you can tell me I am smart, you can tell me all the things you think I need to hear – but, that will not stop this negative monster that lives inside of me. Suicide is not about superficial aspects of life.
That said, it has become apparent I don’t need to act on those nightmare mumbles I hear daily. It’s up to me to be compassionate with myself to accept these thoughts as is. It is still a daily struggle, but I have found a purpose to fight back against that monster. A purpose to help others see that hope is around them, even when they don’t feel it in themselves, to help them turn that arrow into a flower.
I cannot say the words “I will never do it again” because I do not know what the future
brings. I do not know what the clock has in store for me. But, I can tell you I will advocate for those who are dying to talk and have yet to find their voice. I will hold the hope for them — for a minute, for a day, for a month, for a year, for however long they need. I know what it’s like to have suicide smothering you, together we can take a little bit of that space back.
It is OK not to have hope, people hold onto my hope for me. We are in this together, united against mental illness. Won’t you take my hand?
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Thinkstock photo via JamesWrigleyPhotography