Celebrating My Birthday as a Suicide Attempt Survivor Is Me Reclaiming My Life
If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.
I always have a birthday party (except during a pandemic of course). No one throws it for me. I do all the planning and even bake my favorite cake (carrot cake). I invite all my friends, there are many I am gifted to say, and I select a restaurant (I keep an eye out all year long for the perfect spot) and we all gather. I go around and take pictures of everyone with me so I can remember this time together and I can have pictures to look back on. I introduce everyone and talk about how we know each other. My friends are not friends, but they share one thing in common. They all love me.
The reason I gather with my friends is to celebrate that I have made it one more year. I am chronically suicidal and the fact that I made it to another year is a true testament to three things. One, my faith in God to give me the strength I need to choose life. Two, my friends and family who support me when I am on the edge and believe that I am not worthy of love. And three, my will to make it one more day to be here for my daughters. So, I celebrate I made it one more year and it gives me hope that I can do it again.
I attempted suicide in ninth grade and have struggled ever since to have the will to live.
So, when my birthday comes along, I must celebrate.
This was not how I viewed my birthday in the past. I saw it as another year of torture. Another year that I am ready to give it all up to end the relentless pain I was experiencing and felt I was causing those around me. I thought, “Why live and why celebrate a life full of suffering?” I saw my friends getting on with their lives and I was stuck in a depressed hell not sure how to release myself.
The good news is no one else gave up on me. My treatment team held out hope. My friends included me even when I did not want to be included (so ashamed of my sadness I just wanted to hide). They help me learn to appreciate the coming year and a chance to renew and find strength in making it one more time around the sun.
I owe my treatment team and friends a debt of gratitude. They stayed strong under relentless pressure from me to give up. They whispered in my ear that I was worthy of joy and love. That no matter how hard I pushed back they would never falter.
You too can reclaim your birthday. You can celebrate you for making it one more year. Even if you have lost all your friends due to chronic or mental illness. You can buy a cupcake, light a candle, and make a wish for one more year.
I know you are strong enough to withstand the tide of messages of loss and grief. You have this. If I can do it, you can do it, too.
I wish you a Mighty Happy Birthday!
Getty image by JLco – Julia Amaral