The Emotions That Flooded Me After My 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.
Fear, anger, shame, sadness. These are just some of the emotions I experienced in the immediate aftermath of my suicide attempt. The days, weeks, months and even years following an attempt can look so very different for everyone. This is just a small window into one survivor’s — into my — personal experience.
Part of me wanted nothing more than to go home and part of me was terribly afraid of going home. This would have been a fear-filled next step for me regardless of where home was. But, home was teeny, tiny little Ellsworth. If you know… you know.
There were certainly many, many people right there willing to love on me and hold me up. But, there were just as many people ready to ignore and condemn. To some, I was no longer someone they would or could associate themselves with, so they avoided me. To others, I was someone they sought out, someone they wanted to talk to, because they could then go talk about me. I know. That may sound a bit harsh. But it was real. And it was scary.
The fear of who was next to leave. I lost friends. I lost relationships. People left me. Some slipped away silently with no explanation or goodbye. Others left with a thunderous rebuke of what I had done. All made me fearful of just how many there were who would follow them.
It’s been 30 years since my attempt. Some of these friendships have thankfully been restored over the years, but only after some really hard conversations. Some of them have not recovered. All of them, I have to believe, are just as they should be.
So much anger about so much.
I had to see a therapist and that made me angry. They took the telephone out of my hospital room so I had no contact with my friends — angry. They did not allow me to have a pen or a pencil. They took my shoelaces away and wouldn’t let me use real silverware. I was in terrible physical pain, but my orders called for no pain medications as my body was still working to rid itself of toxic levels.
I was angry.
But, the first and most striking thing I was angry about? I was angry I had survived. I know. Harsh… again. But true. I was angry I was there and I was angry because it meant I had “failed”… again. It was suicide I “failed” at, but I still felt like I failed.
I can only imagine what some of you are thinking right now.
“That’s really messed up.”
“She’s mad because she lived?”
“She’s thinking ‘crazy.'”
“She needs help.”
And my response to every one of those thoughts? Yes!
Yes, because that is the reality of what depression and hopelessness and self-doubt can look like and sound like. It is nothing more than a bunch of lies, disguised as truths, attacking your vulnerable mind and heart. A wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Shame on you.
Shame on you for skipping class. For letting it get so out of control. For lying to everyone around you. For squandering your scholarships.
Shame on you.
For everything you put your mom and dad, your sister, the rest of your family and your friends through. For doing something so reckless and selfish. For trying to take your own life.
Shame. On. You.
Yeah. There was plenty of the shame to slog through.
And then the sadness. Where it was dark and lonely, and yet, at times, the only place I felt safe.
I was sad for my parents and my sister, that their lives had become focused on my attempt, my recovery, my mental health.
I was sad for my best friend when I remembered she was the one who found me, she was the one who had to see what she saw and quickly figure out, “What now?”
I was sad about everything I had given up, about the future I felt I had lost.
Mental Health Awareness Month ended in May. But that is not the last of the work that needs to be done. I’m sharing this today in the hopes it reaches the person or people who need to hear it most. Whether that is a lost soul contemplating a way out. A healing soul walking their own path through the journey of healing. Or a family full of questions and uncertainty.
To each one of you: You are heard, you are seen and you are worthy. There is a healthy way through this and suicide is not it. Suicide, whether attempted or completed, whether recent or long in your past, is not the way through. Please read that and hear that as many times as you need to. And, please, reach out.
My story is not over;
There is so much more I want to share. These emotions never completely go away and healing is a process that is never completely over. As I have said before, I will continue sharing more of this part of my story with anyone who wants to learn more. If you have questions, please don’t be afraid to ask them. We don’t know what we don’t know. If it’s something I’m not comfortable answering, I’ll respectfully let you know. But if answering the hard questions, if sharing the raw details, helps just one person feel less alone and less desperate, then it will be worth it.
Unsplash image by Julia Caesar