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To My Friend on the Other Side of a Suicide Attempt

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Dear, dear friend,

I want to say I’m so happy you’re still here. Life without you would be a dull place indeed. You have made it. You are still breathing. Your heart is beating.

I can tell you I have been there before — to the other side of suicide. I have sat in the uncomfortable hospital bed with an aide watching me to make sure I didn’t try again. I have slept time away in a hospital bed because no one else was there but hospital staff. It’s not a club anyone wants to be in, but sometimes the pain is just too much. I understand that more than anyone else, and you should feel no shame.

On the other side of suicide, there is shock. Your body is trying to process everything you did to it, and it’s working hard to recover. At the same time, all the emotions built up may have flat-lined, and all you’re left with is apathy. In time, you can feel “normal” again –physically, mentally and emotionally.

On the other side of suicide, there is pain. Pain in your body, pain in your mind, pain in your heart. The pain you tried to get rid of is still there. Do not give in to that pain; fight it and share the fight if you need to because I guarantee you a long list of people will be there for you.

On the other side of suicide, there is guilt. Guilt for not doing better. Guilt for not being a better person. Guilt for being a burden. Guilt for not succeeding. Do not feel guilty.

On the other side of suicide, there is boredom. Boredom is good. It is better than the cold emptiness of death. Embrace the boredom. Use it to start thinking about your new journey.

On the other side of suicide, there are people. You are lucky. You have so many people who love and care about you. They show up when it matters. Take their love for you and use it to create love for yourself.

On the other side of suicide, there are wounds. Physical wounds and emotional wounds. The physical wounds will heal fairly quickly. The emotional wounds will still take time. The emotional wounds don’t need a Band-Aid. They need to be aired out and tackled. This is the hard road, but it is a good first step to truly healing.

On the other side of suicide, you’re not sure why you’re still here but there has to be a reason. You have a purpose. Everyone has a purpose, it might just take you a little longer for you to find it than it takes others, and that’s OK.

On the other side of suicide, there is hope. A chance to rebuild. A chance at new life. Come out of the ashes like the phoenix that you are.

My advice to you on the other side of suicide is to take one moment at a time. Not a day or a week or even a month — just a moment. Every second you breathe in, there is time. Time to find yourself. Time to love yourself. Time to love each and every moment of your life, even the mundane ones. Don’t judge yourself by other people’s standards. Don’t judge yourself by other people’s lives. They are struggling but in different ways. And maybe they don’t share it.  It is our failures that make us. Don’t internalize those failures; grow from them.

You are here for a reason. Your journey is not over; it is just beginning.

Love always,

Your friend on the other side

A version of the post appeared on the International Bipolar Foundation blog.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Originally published: June 6, 2016
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