6 Things No One Told Me About Surviving a Suicide Attempt
Things change after a suicide attempt. That’s pretty obvious. But no one ever told me how.
I heard, “You are going to be OK,” more times then I can count. But again, no one ever told me how. The reason is simple really. They don’t know. And that’s just fine, I wouldn’t want them to find out the way I had to. I don’t wish this on anyone. So, if I can be so bold, I’ll break it down for you.
Given, this is my experience and how it affected my life. Many feel similar but not all feel the same. I believe in order to break the stigma surrounding suicide and all that comes with it we need to talk about it. Stories need to be told. People need to learn what they can’t understand. People. Need. People.
If you are in crisis or know someone who is in crisis, know you are not alone. Please reach out to a loved one or a resource listed below.
Here are the things no one told me about surviving a suicide attempt:
1. I had to learn how to live again.
It might seem silly and simple but it’s one of the hardest things to do. When I was suicidal there was no future, no plans, except how to take my own life. When I survived, it was completely overwhelming that I now had to live the life I tried to escape from. I needed a plan. I needed support. I needed to trust and to love and to have hope. It’s not an easy transition going from hopeless, numb, feeling dead inside and a slew of many other emotions to waking up each day knowing you have to keep going. The reason it was so hard? I forgot what it was like to live. I only existed.
2. There will be guilt.
It is one of the most common things I’ve heard about suicide — that it’s selfish. How could someone “give up”? How could they not think about anyone but themselves? I’m sorry, but I call bullshit. Every person I have ever loved came to my mind when I was suicidal. Every single one. I had to come up with this story that would make it OK. Reasons why they would be fine without me. I convinced myself that leaving would cause absolutely no pain because of all the pain I was in. I was so desperate to make it stop, just for a minute some days. And after awhile, moments started to feel like they were my last. Like there was nothing else I could do. When I survived, I remembered all those stories, all those people. And for the first time, I felt that guilt. Because I was still alive, yet I convinced myself a long time ago that I shouldn’t be. It would be better off if I wasn’t. So here I was, with these stories in my head that no one needed me. But I was still around. I felt guilty and ashamed to be alive.
3. You’ll learn what you’re going through might have a name.
Sometimes, suicide is influenced by untreated mental illnesses and addiction. Yes, you can die from a mental illness. Just like you can die from any other untreated medical condition. And a large amount of people go untreated for years, until it’s too late. Suicide is the end of the rope, where there is no foreseeable path to hope or light or life. For some, the first time they put a name to what’s happening in their brain is after a suicide attempt. Or rather, the first time they believe it. I never believed I had a mental illness. I thought this was all my fault, I somehow earned this depression, this anxiety, these addictions. I didn’t know these thoughts and feelings weren’t “normal,” or that they could be helped by professional care. That wasn’t a thought, or a glimmer of a thought, until I ended up in the hospital where I met people like me who were there getting support.
4. Not everyone will understand.
That may be a given. But if it’s not, boy is it a hard one to find out. People love to be alive, they want to live as long as they can. So many people don’t know what to say to someone who doesn’t want to be alive. Some people even get mad. Especially if they’ve had friends or family pass. They know what it’s like to lose someone, they know how thankful they are to be alive. But they don’t know what it’s like to live with a debilitating mental illness or addiction. I’ve known plenty of those people. I learned the hard way not everyone will understand. That makes it harder to stay alive sometimes.
I’ve survived four major attempts and 15 years of thoughts and tendencies. It hurt to see people walk out of my life because they couldn’t understand. I hope and I pray you have people who stay.
5. It’s hard work.
When someone has a stroke, they need to learn how to do everything over again. Things don’t work the way they used to and it’s hard to get back to a full working life. Surviving a suicide attempt is no different, honestly. There are long lasting effects you have to live with, whether they are physical or mental. They’re there, and they’re real. I needed to learn how to think, how to breath, how to work, how to eat, how to be sober, how to sleep and how to care for myself in the most basic ways. I also needed to learn how trust and love myself and others. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I have to keep doing it every time that sun rises.
6. You are the strongest mutha fu****.
Truly. What you’ve gone through, the life you’ve lived, has been a shit show at times, I’m sure. Scary and unpredictable, filled with worry and loss. But go look in the mirror… it’s cool, I’ll wait…
You’re still here. Looking back at yourself. Into those eyes that have seen pain and heartbreak. They have been filled with tears, bloodshot red and at times didn’t look like they were yours. But you’re here. And those tears that are in your eyes now represent how strong you are. How fuc**** resilient you’ve become.
You have overcome all of your worst nightmare days and nights.
You’ve been on the brink of death.
There is absolutely no where else you can go but up.
You won’t always feel this way. There will be hope and love again. Light in the darkness that you have called home for so long.
Things really can get better.
So don’t give up and let the darkness win the battle over you.
Because strong mutha fu***** like us deserve to live. I’m glad you’re alive. One day you’ll be glad too.
We matter. We are strong. Let’s stay alive.
Getty image via Grandfailure