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When Deciding to Keep Living Is a Daily Task

Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

My husband has told me as long as we’ve been together that love is a decision we have to make every day.

I have another decision I have to make many, many days — that is the decision to live. It’s a harder decision than you might imagine; for many people this a no-brainer, while for some of us it’s one of the most difficult decisions we make.

In my experience, there is a pull in the other direction and sometimes it’s a strong pull. It’s the little voice in my head that sounds like me — a voice that tells me I’m worthless, and there’s no point in me being here. A voice that says living another 40 plus years with my illnesses would be unbearable for me and my loved ones. A voice that reminds me of where I fall short. A voice that tells me it would be easier, so much easier if I weren’t here anymore. It would be better for everyone, it says. Sometimes it even convinces me that my friends and family, who dearly love me, would be so much better off without me — that I bring everyone down anyway. Sure, maybe they’d miss me, but they’d get over it.

I try to remind myself what it was like having my husband drive me to the ER from my psychiatrist’s office, after I had admitted I was suicidal and had a plan I was intending to act on. My husband was so upset I didn’t think he’d make it home safely. I think of my cats, who were sniffing my clothes while I was in the hospital. I think of the co-workers who were worried when they heard I’d gone into the hospital, who were relieved when I came back to work and explained my visit was due to the bipolar disorder I’ve had for several years — almost two decades at this point. I also remind myself of my first attempt when I was in my mid-teens, and how my father wept in a way I’d never seen him cry. On the days in which I have a reason at all, I’ll remind myself of the books I have yet to read, the places I have not been. I argue with the voice, pet my cats, hug my loved ones, take my meds, write in my journal, be willing to go to the ER if I believe I might cause harm to myself… do my best to make the decision to live every day, even when I don’t want to.

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, 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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Thinkstock photo via Marjan_Apostolovic