I’ve never attempted suicide, but I’ve contemplated it a hundred times. I was seventeen the first time I thought about doing it. I would turn away from my bedroom window vowing never to give my father the satisfaction of my death.
After I left for college, I was diagnosed with depression and began my experimentation with drugs—Prozac was the first, from the lowest dose
to the highest. Then came a slew of others, some on their own, others part of a cocktail of this and that. Zoloft, Effexor, Lexapro, Pristiq, Cymbalta, Wellbutrin, Trileptal, Lamictal, and Celexa. I knew it was time to adjust my medications when thoughts of suicide returned. I fantasized about slicing my wrists open while making dinner, making a sudden swerve into oncoming traffic, jumping in front of a train instead of patiently waiting for it to pass. I didn’t tell anyone, certainly not my psychiatrist or counselor. I was more afraid of saying those words out loud than dying. I lied on every questionnaire.
When my medications were working as well as they could at the time, I didn’t think about suicide, but I didn’t care about living, either. I thought the world would be better off without me. Dying would be better than the incredible pain I carried around and the exhausting chore of living. When my medications worked really well, I thought perhaps this life was worth living after all, but I still hurt.
There were two things that stopped me from harming myself. The first was a promise as important as my wedding vows. My husband asked me to promise to not harm myself. I am accountable to that promise and the love I have for my husband. The second is just as important. I am terrified of the thought that the trauma it would cause my daughters would alter their lives forever. It would change who they were meant to be. There would be a hole in their hearts they could never fill because their mother left them. They would carry that pain forever, and I cannot live or die with that.
I have great compassion for those who have taken their own lives, who have attempted it, who have thought about it. Please don’t say they are being selfish. There is no way to describe the excruciating pain and hopelessness they carry around to those who haven’t felt it in every cell in their body. I have felt that pain and here is my plea to those who suffer—Reach out. Make a promise. Be accountable to someone, anyone. Your life is impactful and your death would be devastating. Your life is worth living even when depression tells you otherwise. Choose life every day even when you feel you don’t have a choice. Stay.