Now That I’ve Found Myself on the Suicide Soapbox:

NOTE: Do NOT skip a single word of this post, or you may be susceptible to missing the point.

Ok, honest to God, I am going to try to get through this without sounding judgmental or bitter.  I also want to say, before I start, that this isn’t a reaction to any one person, but a response to the collective reactions I’ve received in discussions about suicide.  I would like to add that open (non-judgmental) discourse on the issue of suicide is SO important.  Suicide is like any personal experience that deserves discussion to help healing and understanding.  I’m going to let that be the extent of my disclaimer, but I want to leave you with this before reading: Just sit down for a moment and listen to a perspective that you might not have heard before, either because the people who have this perspective aren’t here anymore, or because they don’t have the ability to share.  Thank you.

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We’ll get to the details of my own experience later this week.  I have an important anniversary approaching on Thursday that closely pertains to this subject.  With that approaching date, I have tried to open myself up to an honest discussion on the subject, because even if it is painful for me, I think it could help so many people.  People do not like to discuss it, for fear of drudging up hurt or  of being judged.  In this way, I think people pass judgment as a shield against blame for the loved ones they’ve lost to suicide.

Wow.  I’m so overwhelmed that I don’t even know where to start, so I’ma just let it flow.

Over the years, I have yearned to share my experience with people who have no comprehension of how deep into darkness one can wander.  Unfortunately, these are the people who, more often than not, are not willing to listen, because they simply cannot fathom understanding my perspective.  Also, having this platform is terrifying, for fear that I may not do it justice.

I think you need to know a few things.

First of all, unless you have seriously planned and attempted suicide, I don’t think you can comprehend what it is like to be in that moment.  (I’ll get back to that.)

Second, I think most people need to realize that judging someone will not talk them off the ledge.  Ironically, it is often the most spiritual and the least spiritual among us who pass the worst judgment where this is concerned.  Often the most spiritual are on a mission to scare us out of suicide through Jesus, hell, or other forms of salvation/punishment for our actions.  This won’t work.  No one who commits suicide is in a rational and healthy state of mind, thus rendering them incapable of making the right decision.  Basically, what is killing them is an illness, not themselves.   Actually, quite similarly, the least spiritual often try to approach the issue from a very practical standpoint, but also fail to see the point.  When it comes down to it, not only is there an illness, there is also a battle between good and evil going on within those of us who struggle with the thought/action of suicide.  If you deny that, then like I said, you are probably incapable of comprehending the intensity of being in such a state.  I say this because, if you’ve been to that depth, you understand more than most how expansive our universe is, and thus that there is something so much bigger than ourselves.  I’ve often felt like I’m in a spiritual tug-of-war when I find myself in this darkness.

At the same time, though, as much as you think religion could save me, being preached at by people who have no comprehension of the struggle, really doesn’t help.

And on that note, when I say “comprehension of the struggle,” I mean, been at a point where you wanted to die so badly, that you: 1. made plans, 2. harmed yourself with honest calculation and the belief that what you tried would work, 3. honestly felt that these actions would help your loved ones more than it would hurt, 4. resigned yourself to an eternity in hell in the moments just before (what you thought would be) your death, and 5. struggled with the disappointment that you failed.

Don’t get me wrong.  I in NO WAY intend to downplay the agony experienced by those who are left behind after suicide.  As someone who has not personally experienced it, even though I’m close to many who have, I cannot say what that feels like.  I am not claiming it is any worse to be desperately suicidal, because I know that it must feel equally awful to experience such a loss, and fear for the rest of your life that you could’ve done something to prevent it.  I cannot comprehend what that is like.  It is for this reason that I stress, that, unless you’ve been where I’ve been, you can’t understand the act of committing suicide.  Losing someone in this way, undoubtedly angers and embitters a person.  But I have to say that it must surely bias them as well.

I’m not saying that suicide is purely medical or purely spiritual.  In my experience, it is a combination of both.  I have often heard clichés about the act like: a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  As accurate as this may be, I think it is awfully insensitive as well.  Initially, it is insensitive because someone doesn’t even look within themselves to offer support, but defaults to a detached cliché; but also because the temporariness  of the situation isn’t always accurate.  One of the only things that has been consistent throughout my life is my urge to end it.  It makes me wonder why, if people truly believe that, loved ones have often been unavailable to stay by my side through the night, so that I may see another day.  I’m not talking hospitals, police, ambulances, or doctors… I’m talking about friends who are willing to drop everything to hold your hand and walk you into morning.  Sometimes they don’t even have to actually do it, but in the moment, if they say, “I’ll be there right now, if you need me to be,” just knowing that person exists, has the power to eliminate a loneliness capable of pushing someone over the edge and into action.

Twenty-four hours.

I’m not saying that it is over in 24 hours either, though.  Often the next day should be like a telethon of phone tag with doctors, counselors, groups, and treatment centers, so when the feeling arises again (as it undoubtedly will), there is a support system in place to cope.  And yet, with all of those professional supports, it is also crucial to have an army of love at your back.  You know how they say “it takes a village to raise a child?”  Well, it also takes such a village to save someone from suicide.

One of the worst things I’ve faced after people have promised to walk me into morning, are these same people being unavailable, after they offered to be on-call.  Don’t tell someone you’ll be there no matter what, if you won’t.

I also realize that loved ones can only take, and are only equipped to do so much.  Along with professional supports, there always needs to be several people available, in case one truly cannot be there, for whatever reason.  I have lost plenty of friends to burn out from my mental/spiritual battle, because they were not capable of holding my hand.  As it turned out, I think I might’ve begun to walk them into my darkness, instead of following them into the light.  I have complete respect for someone who is honest with me in offering prayer or healing energy instead of hand-holding.  I know that some people are closer to the darkness than they may realize, and my reliance on them can hurt them more than it helps me.  In this way, all of the resources build a net.  As resources fail, or disappear, the net’s holes grow and allow more room to fall through.

I’ll tell you my entire suicide story later, but I want to highlight the most important part, for me.  This is the part I want to share with everyone who has been in my shoes, or knows someone who has.  Coming to the point of suicide, is not a path I walked down willingly.  I’ve been fighting to live my whole life.  Unfortunately, most people have no idea what is like to fight a fight like that, for that long.  That makes the final decision very lonely, and after all the judgment you’ve encountered, quite frankly terrifying.  I had always been told that suicide was selfish and I would go to hell if I did it.  When I found myself on the “Who Wants to be  a Millionaire” stage, face-to-face with Regis Philbin, being asked that fateful question (ok, it wasn’t that big of a production, but you get the analogy), although I had arrived there in a clouded state, the answer was very clear.  I honestly, at the core of my being, believed that the darkness I carried was a burden on all of those who loved me.  I knew for certain that their pain could end with my death.  Sure, it would hurt for a little while, but that would dwindle and fade.  They’d forget my voice, my laughter, my smile, they’d start to think of me less and less, and hurt from my decision less and less.  I have since learned that I do have people in my life who would go to any length to help me, not only to survive, but to want to survive.  Although I now know my suicidal beliefs were misconceptions, that doesn’t keep me from revisiting that place, not because I want to, but because something drags me there.  In my mind, I was doing this for them as much as I was doing it for myself, as illogical as that may seem.  Also, i have to point out that a survival instinct is the most powerful instinct we, as animals, have.  If you can try to wrap your mind, for a moment, around the idea of being in so much pain, that such an powerful instinct dies.  I’ve lived for a very long time in that state.  After a while, that becomes your instinct, and you have to be retaught something that is supposed to come naturally.  In the past, I have come to a point where life and death were so unbalanced, that one was undoubtedly a better decision, even if it lacked true logic or defied instinct.

I believe that there are few things more terrifying than lying in a silent darkness alone and waiting for demons to sweep you away to hell.  When it comes down to it, I can’t believe that my actions were weak, or selfish, or evil.  Sure, those were certainly perspectives on what I did, but being in this place was not my choice.  No one would choose such a thing.  My thoughts were clouded by darkness, by illness.  I survived.  I didn’t survive for lack of conviction or for lack of effort.  I can only speculate as to why I survived.  Perhaps to share my story with the countless people out there who could in some way benefit from it, even if only in the capacity of starting or continuing the discussion.

I think that is all I have to say  about my perspective at this point.

This morning, while reflecting on the issue during this milestone anniversary week, I saw a post on Facebook.  Apparently, on June 4th and 5th, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is sponsoring an 18 mile, overnight walk in NYC called “Out of the Darkness.”  It starts as dark falls, and ends at sunrise. For more information about the walk, Click Here.

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FOR: YOU (you know who you are)

You deserve this.  You are worth it.

With Love,

FROM: ME

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***  If you are in a suicidal crisis, call: 1.800.273.TALK  ***

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Help Is Available.  You Are NOT Alone.

Do Not Hesitate.  Do Not Wait.

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***  If you are in a suicidal crisis, call: 1.800.273.TALK  ***

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3 thoughts on “Now That I’ve Found Myself on the Suicide Soapbox:

  1. I first began suffering from depression when I was just a small child. I want to say it was around the 5th grade. I was very sensitive and I was a master at blaming myself for every bad thing that happened in the world. I remember coming home from school, climbing into my bed and crying for hours until my mother got home from work. I remember feeling so tired and so down and so invisible all the time. I remember how I would lay there and think, “what is wrong with me? why am I crying like this?” I would think of all the bad things that had happened in my life and I wold attempt to pinpoint the moment when it all changed. I tried as hard as I could to find some way to explain my sadness. Some way to rationalize my emotions. I was so young that no one had ever talked to me about depression. How was I to know that my dad was bi-polar and an alcoholic? How was I to know that these feelings were coming from a very unstable place deep inside my chemical make-up?
    My mother didn’t understand how sad I really was. She could understand how or why I even could be so sad. I still remember the sound of my heart breaking into pieces when she told me that I must be about to start my period and that every girl went through that type of emotional pain. I remember thinking I would rather just die then live that way.
    I went on to middle school. I was student council president. I was popular. I was pretty. No one knew how I cried myself to sleep. No one knew how the moment I was alone all this pain would come flooding out of me until my eyes burned and I was too tired to continue. No one knew the real me, or atleast the side of me that I thought was real.
    By high school I had become a master at hiding. I changed my appearance constantly. Cutting and dying my hair. Dressing preppy one day and grunge the next. I attempted suicide teice during high school. The first was out of desperation and was not successful. I remember feeling scared that time. I actually thought about how people would react. I thought about who would find me lying there in the bath tub. I didn’t succeed, but then again, I’m not sure I ever really thought I would. My second attempt was completely different. I was heartbroken. I was alone. I was angry and shattered. I remember taking pills… a lot of pills… I remember drinking. Then I remember waking up. Small flashes of consciousness. I remember a really bright light, and later, a doctors mask. Then I remeber questions. A whirlwind of questions. “What did you take?” “How much did you drink?” “How do you feel?”… and finally… “Were you trying to commit suicide?” The truth was, I couldn’t even remember. I didn’t know what day it was, where I was, how much time had passed. When I woke up again, I was at my father’s house (my parents were divorced). He had made a huge breakfast and I remember him calling me to the table and forcing me to eat. He had so many questions. I remember crying and telling him that it was an accident. I remember all the lies that spewed out of my mouth. I wasn’t prepared to survive.
    Later I found out that my sister was the one who found me. My baby sister.. the sweet suld who had followed me around my whole life and tried to do everything that I did. The shy and quiet baby sister who I would do anything to protect. I was told that she found me in my bed.. blue.. barely breathing. I was told that she tried to shake me and scream at me and beg me to wake up. I was told that she finally had to call 9-1-1.

    That was nearly 10 years agho and my sister and I have NEVER discussed it. In fact, I have never talked about it with anyone in my family.

    ….

    Today I am happy and I can say that with 100% certainty. Today I am the mother to 2 beautiful little boys. I paint, I write, I garden, I hike. I know myself better now than I ever did before. After years of therapy, antidepressants, talking. After years of learning about myself, about my illness, about my genes. After years of learning to accept who and what I was I can finally say I am better. But, saying that I am better is like someone who just quit smoking saying they are better. The need for the cigarette is still there and will prehaps always be there. When bad things come my way it is hard not to fall into my old habits. It is hard not to fall apart. But, n ow I am surrounded by people who know my truth. People who are always there to help me out of the hole. People who are always there to keep me from slipping too far into the darkness. People who keep me from getting lost.
    Thank you for fighting the good fight. For continuing this daily battle and most of all for giving all of us the courage to share. In my experience it is the way, the only way, to heal. Much love!

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