10 Lessons I’ve Found in Living Each Day After Almost Dying By Suicide
It has been nearly one year since I almost went through with a plan to end my life by suicide. October will mark my one year anniversary of deciding to live each day. It has been one of the hardest journeys I have ever been on — living. But, the choice to live each day has come with some amazing benefits and lessons along the way. These are my top 10 habits I have acquired along the way.
1. Meeting with a therapist or psychologist regularly.
I see my therapist once every other week now. At first, I saw her every week, sometimes twice a week. I see her in combination with my psychiatrist. My psychiatrist prescribes my medication and monitors my actions and moods carefully. I saw her twice a month at first, followed by once a month and now once every three months. Progress looks different for each person so don’t be alarmed if your schedule is different than mine.
2. Stick close to your true friends.
Find someone you can confide in.
I have two people I consider my confidants. They have my permission to call me out when they see negative behaviors rising up on me. They know my safety plan for if I slip back into the darkness of depression and they freely ask me questions about whether I am having suicidal thoughts or not.
3. Find a life coach!
This was a pivotal movement for me. Once I found my life coach, I began to make strides toward health. He helped me crawl out of the dark hole I was in and helped boost my confidence. His purpose is to help me figure out what I need. Through questioning and conversations, we have figured out plans for my future together. He helps me look toward the future.
I never thought I would fall into a habit of journaling but it has become a life-saver. Each day after I left the mental hospital, I would journal things like “who God thinks I am” or affirmations about the truths in life. I would also journal five things I was grateful for each day. Even if I repeated some, every day I would try to think of the positive things in my life that were helping me to cope with living.
This looks different for everyone. For me, self-care was taking a night off from rehearsal so that I could have some alone time. It was getting a massage or floating in a sensory deprivation tank at a local floating studio. Sometimes self-care was taking a shower, brushing my hair or teeth. Sometimes it was the simple everyday tasks that have to be done, that I would have to push myself to do. Those tasks are much easier to do now.
6. Share your story.
This one is the riskiest out of all of the steps I took to heal, but when I finally decided to start sharing my story, it began to heal me from within. I started advertising my story through the semicolon tattoos on my arms. Both represent the beginning and triumph I have felt through this journey. These tattoos have brought attention to the idea of survival, and have drawn attention from strangers. Conversations have been started around the meaning of the tattoos and this gave me the opportunity to share my story. Group sessions with my therapist also helped shed light on my story. Telling others and being vulnerable with them has helped me heal tremendously. The bottom line is no matter the risk, sharing your story is a must-do on this list.
Not only did I become an advocate for mental health awareness but I involved others in my journey as well. I educated people and corrected people when their ideas of mental health were stereotypical. The hardest thing to overcome was the stereotypes out there. Things like, “mental hospitals only house ‘crazy’ people.” Or, “suicidal thoughts only come to a certain type of person, both of these things you have to overcome.” The truth of the matter is: suicidal thoughts can occur in anyone. Mental hospital are great and the purpose they serve is to protect and help individuals who are struggling to help themselves.
The most recent form of advocating I have done has been in the shape of a fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I am building a team to walk in their 5k to build awareness of the issue of suicide. I am walking for myself and for others who have struggled and continue to struggle with these thoughts.
8. Take risks.
What I mean by taking risks is through overcoming your fears. My problem was that I was so afraid of what happiness would look like for me that I became stuck in the dark. I became afraid that if I moved, I wouldn’t be able to function in this newfound freedom. I had to learn to crawl before I could walk. I had to learn to trust again and trust myself before I could trust others. As I began to trust others, I realized staying stuck was no longer an option. With the guidance of my therapist and coach, I was able to step out of the dark and into the light.
Another saving grace for me is traveling. There is something about new experiences that brought me into a newness of life that I can’t explain. Seeing places like Niagara Falls — standing in the waters as they cascaded over the rocks and down to the platform at the Cave of the Winds — showed me just how much more life I have left to live and experience. It made me realize there is so much out there to explore. So, I traveled. I went up the east coast of the U.S. I laughed and cried. I saw the most amazing mountains and walked the streets of New York City. I sat on the beach in the Florida Keys and marveled at the beauty that was the crystal clear waters. I fell in love with myself again. I grew to know who I was in this process and I began to accept me for me.
10. Find a hobby you love.
Finally, the last thing I can attribute to my journey has been falling in love with camping and the outdoors. I found a hobby I love and I found friends who enjoy it as well. I am not alone. I discovered this through many lonely nights, but it finally dawned on me that friends are there for a reason. If I just would let them in a little, then maybe I wouldn’t feel so alone.
Since September is National Suicide Prevention Month, I wanted to write about my journey and my successes in hopes that others may find these tips helpful.
Follow this journey on the author’s blog.
Photo by Mack Fox (MusicFox) on Unsplash