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I've Lived 50 More Days Than I Planned to, and I’m Still Living

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I’ve lived 50 days more than I had planned.

I’ve found the will to keep going through 1,200 hours of a life I wasn’t sure was worth living.

I’ve been victorious in my battle with a mental illness that seemed impossible to beat for more than 72,000 minutes.

I’ve breathed at least 1,152,000 breaths since hoping for my last one.

I’ve survived 50 extra days since attempting to kill myself.

Moreover, I’ve survived them without even harming myself.

When compared to an average life span, 50 days may not seem like much. Yet, I spent a week in a psychiatric hospital, and my life was not only profoundly changed but probably saved. Over those seven days, I went from a suicidal state to finding a small bit of hope that life might be worth living.

Can you imagine how many things could change in 50 days? Can you dream of the amount of hope that could grow in a person’s soul?

I’m not going to say the last month and a half has been easy because it hasn’t. There were times in which that little bit of hope shrank so small I feared I would need to be hospitalized again. Yet, there also were times my hope for the future grew so great that I made goals for years ahead of now.

I hope you can see that it hasn’t been a smooth ride, and it’s not a ride that is anywhere close to ending. However, it is a ride worth living, and I believe it’s a story worth telling.

The stigmatization of suicide must end. The shaming of those who have struggled with suicidal thoughts must stop. We cannot silence the voices of those who have survived attempts, nor of those who are survivors of a loss.

Although there has been more openness in culture discussing mental illness, it’s not enough to just talk about depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder (BPD) and the many others that plague the people surrounding us. The conversation has to move forward to talk about one symptom that has become taboo. We have to talk about suicidal thoughts. There should not be any disgrace associated with disclosing such a struggle.

If the goal is to reduce attempts and losses, then we have to speak out. I have to speak out. It’s personal for me. If you’re reading this as a friend or family member, then I’m asking you to make it personal too. I’m asking you to not let the fear of speaking about suicide prevent you from talking about it openly.

One of my heroes, Hermione Granger, wisely said, “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.” If I were to struggle again with suicidal thoughts, then I do not want to be afraid of reaching out. This can only happen if I know you aren’t afraid of hearing me. I know there are feelings of grief and trauma associated with suicide, and I want to be sensitive to that. Shame doesn’t need to be added to the pile.

Fighting the stigma depends on you. It starts here and now. Those who are struggling, please, be courageous in reaching out. Your voice is powerful and matters. Your voice will instill fearlessness in others to reach out. To those who are hearing our stories, be open to discussing an uncomfortable topic. Your reactions may be what leads someone toward hope, and hope, my friends, is real.

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

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: December 17, 2016
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