To My Suicidal Self Who Needs a Reminder to Stay
As I sat on the blue patterned couch in my therapist’s office, nestled in the middle of the soft couch cushions and white plush pillows, I twirled my ponytail holder around my wrist over and over again until I had successfully zoned out.
“Where did you go just now?” she asked.
“No where. I just got distracted.” I answered, as I stared at the sun beams dancing across the window sill.
But that was far from the truth. I had been thinking about life and death, the meaning of my human existence, my excruciating level of hopelessness and how I so badly wanted to end the pain, and ultimately end my life.
I’ve thought about that a lot lately. So today, when my therapist gave me the homework assignment to write letters to myself that I can read during difficult or hopeless times, I thought: what better letter to write than a reminder to stay.
Here it is — my reminder letter to stick around, at least for now:
To the me that needs reminding,
I know things have not been easy lately and the pain often feels like it is too much to bear. Death seems like a more palatable option than sticking around and hoping that things will get better or become easier. You tell yourself that you are broken, chronic and inherently flawed — messages that you truly believe define the very core of your being. You can’t see past the darkness that encircles you day in and day out. The coveted light at the end of the tunnel? It is nothing more than an elusive carrot you are always chasing.
You grow weary from fighting a relentless battle with mental illness. Anyone could understand why you’d be exhausted. It makes sense — just like wanting an end to the pain makes sense. Depression has a way of shrinking your world down to a single, solitary room. You exist within the four walls of your bedroom, barely able to make it out of bed. What you don’t realize is that there is a world behind the dark, drawn curtains that is big and bright and waiting to be discovered. Although it seems terrifying right now to think about embracing the noise, and the chaos, and the light — I promise you it won’t always feel so overwhelming. You just have to hold on and stick around long enough to see that for yourself.
Stay when you feel like giving in. Stay when everything in you is screaming for relief. Stay long enough to see the sparks ignite into flames as hope burns within you once again. Stay one more day. Stay to see another person smile. Maybe, one day, it will be you who smiles. Stay to watch another sunset and breathe deep as you take in the cotton candy hues covering the vastness of the sky. Stay awhile, until you get the chance to make your voice heard. You have so much to say and can be a powerful force if you allow your words to carry. Stay so that you can experience one more bad cup of coffee. At least you will know that you have feelings about something. Stay so that you can take one more trip and collect photographs in the form of memories. Stay until you cry one more time. You will be reminded that you are human, and that being human is messy and painful, and occasionally beautiful. Stay so that you can hold someone’s hand. Stay to see the changes happening all around you. Stay when your heart is full and you feel alive, but aren’t sure those feelings will last. Stay to see them through. I urge you to please stay. The world needs more of you, even if you can’t believe that right now. You are worthy and loved and deserve to take up space.
So, stick around a little while longer.
Own your space.
Use your voice.
Experience life in all of its messy and broken beauty.
Leave your mark on this world by being around to impact it, no matter how small you may feel your impact can be.
You will be OK. Maybe not today or even tomorrow, but if you choose to stay; then you get to see firsthand, the incredible strength, power and bravery you possess. You, my dear, are a brave one.
See you tomorrow,
The me that makes it
Leaving often feels like the safer choice. It would mean relief, finality and an ending to a story I never wanted to own. It is vital, especially when those thoughts feel all encompassing, to have reminders to stay; to remember what it is I show up for, no matter how ridiculous or silly it might sound to someone on the outside. My reasons to stay may look different than yours, and that is OK. Create your own reasons, keep them close and access them when you believe that leaving sounds more appealing than staying. As my therapist once told me, “The world would take a hit if you weren’t here, because you are inherently worthy.” The world needs us, even if we can’t believe it just yet. Stick around a little while longer.
Follow this journey here.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
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Unsplash photo via Ewelina Karezona