When You’re Still Fighting 9 Years After a Suicide Attempt
If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.
It’s been nine years now since I was a scared and desperate 16-year-old. I can hold that girl in my hands in the form of paper and smudged .7 led. I see her clearest then, amidst the lies and truths and the stories she told. I can almost forgive her in those moments, almost love her. I know I will always carry her with me, that some days I am more her than the years dividing us should allow for.
It’s been nine years since I attempted suicide and went to bed expecting not to wake up. It’s been nine years since I did wake up, shocked and sick and alive. It’s been nine years of painstaking work, of feeling strong and capable, of feeling weak and miserable, of repeatedly talking myself down off that cliff, of holding those I love close to my heart and of resenting those same people for wanting me to live.
To quote Hamilton, “I have imagined death so much it feels more like a memory.” I have also imagined futures, futures in which I work and support myself. I have made that future a reality. I have imagined futures where forgiving and loving myself is not an almost but an actuality. I’m still working on that. I have imagined bright and beautiful things in darkness — some of which have come to fruition, some of which I work toward now and some of which I still think is unattainable.
I am better now than I was nine years ago. But I’m not great either. These days I wake up tired, go to work tired and go to bed tired. These days, I mostly do the bare minimum to keep myself functioning. In the past, I have done more, done better. I have to remind myself recovery is not a vertical line: It dips and bends and sometimes breaks.
The only option is to keep moving forward, to take that next step, no matter how small, to slog through the trenches, climb the mountains and skitter down the slopes. I tell myself I am not allowed to stop, I am not allowed to do the thing I sometimes want most, which is curl up in bed, shut out the world and sleep for weeks. I am not allowed to give up. That carried me through 2020, a year that swelled with suffering. It has carried me through the beginning of 2021. It has gotten me to places I wouldn’t have dreamed of nine years ago.
It’s not as bleak as I make it sound, either. I know I am lucky. I have a strong support system, I came out of 2020 with a job, I have not worried about my ability to get food or housing, I have made art and I have fallen in love. I have lived. I know I am not alone. This is not my darkest hour.
For the past five years now, I have written about my attempt, my life currently and about how it gets better. My hope has always been it might help someone else, remind them no matter how many tunnels they walk through, there is always light to be found. Sometimes I am the one who needs that help.
So, to myself and anyone else, the best advice I can give is to keep moving forward. The future is there.
Getty image by Anna Rodionova