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What Survival Means to Me Years After My Suicide Attempt

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

[Finger on lips] Shhhh… [Leaning in] I have a secret to share. I’m trying to be brave, to speak out, to speak up, but I’ve been harboring this for a very long time. Twenty years. That’s half of my life actually.

I don’t know if I should whisper or shout it out, speak like it’s being wrung out of me with tears and stifled sobbing or if I should simply say it.

[Deep breath]… I’ll keep it simple and simply say it. I am a survivor of suicide.

Suicide. Such a heavy word drenched in so much meaning, emotion, pain. It’s not an easy word to say. But there you go — I said it. When I was 18 I tried to die. I tried to shut down four years of depression. It didn’t work. I didn’t die. I lived. I was alive, but barely living. It was a cry for help, a scream shouted from the deepest of caverns that echoed in my mind for another 365 days. I dropped out of university and moved home to my loving family to recover. I didn’t recover. The depression continued to gnaw at my being.

Two weeks before my 20th birthday I tried again. I went out partying. I drank too much. I wrote a note. I wanted to die. Really wanted to die. Death was the only way I could foresee to end the pain. I took one last look at the hideous, weak, helpless, girl in the mirror and lay down to die.

I didn’t die. My father found me in the early hours of the morning and rushed me to hospital. Then I woke up. I wasn’t meant to be awake. Oh fuck. I wasn’t meant to wake up. It wasn’t part of my plan. I didn’t want to face the questions, the grief-stricken faces, the prodding and probing at my emotions.

My urine in the catheter was blue. Why?

We found marijuana in your bedroom. Why?

You spoke about bulimia nervosa when you were waking up. Why?

You mentioned ecstasy, acid, cocaine.

Why did you do this? Why didn’t you speak to us? Why? Why? Why? Why?

Why? Why?

I had no answers. I was 19 and terrified, a young girl with a broken soul. At some point I remember my mother slapping me. She was hurt, mad, frustrated and rightly so. I wasn’t speaking. I had no answers. The words spun around my head like a tornado but refused to form on my lips.

Doctors, nurses, psychologists, my mom, my dad, my sister. People staring at me, hoping to find answers, but I had none to give. I was moved to Ward E – the psychiatric ward. I recall eight beds in the room. Next to me was a younger teen with depression who hated life. On the other side was an ex-cop who was suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Opposite me a mother sleeping. At one point she woke up screaming.

Group therapy, one-on-one sessions, family sessions. Medicines. Quiet time in the courtyard. Hushed conversations with the other patients. We cried together. We sat in silence, with an air of darkness hanging over us. We were all so different, yet all so alike.

I was released. Set free. I went home, unexpectedly alive. I was kept from seeing or speaking to the majority of my friends. They were considered to be the bad influencers. I was overcome with a myriad of thoughts and emotions but deep, deep down I knew this was for the best.

And so I started the healing process. I knew that I needed to open myself up to new possibilities. I met my husband, Gavin, a month later. He wasn’t my usual “type.” He had a job, short hair, no piercings, an education, drive, ambition, motivation. He saved me by shining a light in my soul where darkness had resided. He was my main pillar of strength in those early days but at the same time that he was holding me up, he was teaching me to stand strong on my own.

Twenty years ago. Some days it feels like yesterday. Some days it feels like a whole lifetime away. Day-by-day, month-by-month, year-by-year I have grown stronger. I have bad times, bad days and bouts of sadness, occasional depression. The difference is that I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I push through. I do not live with regret, as I am a strong believer that things happen for a reason and that our past experiences lead us to where we are now. I have three beautiful boys; a loving husband; parents who love me deeply and support me through life; I have many, many friends who I depend on for laughter and support. Yes… I have a wonderful life and I am so grateful to be alive.

I am a survivor of suicide. I am a survivor.

Survive. To remain alive or in existence; to carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere; to remain functional or usable; to live longer than; outlive; to live, persist, or remain usable through; to cope with, to persevere after.

Don’t battle depression on your own. Reach out to someone. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention raises awareness, funds scientific research and provides resources and aid to those affected by suicide. Their mission is to “save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide” and they have “set a bold goal to reduce the annual suicide rate in the US by 20 percent by 2025.” Your life matters. It really does.

This post originally appeared on La Legsie.

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via flyparade

Originally published: March 2, 2017
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