Updated: Sep 13, 2019
My first attempt was at 8 years old and latest was on my birthday this year.
I can remember the first time, feeling so overwhelmed and convincing myself that the world would be better off without me in it. Throughout the course of the years, that narrative has changed to - I would be better off anywhere but here.
If I remember correctly altogether I’ve had over 5 failed attempts and each one of them are usually triggered like a domino effect by a chain of events happening within and around me.
Before you come with your unsolicited advice let me tell what I’ve tried: drinking, smoking , fucking, praying , fasting, cleansing, smudging, silencing and crying it all way - ohhhh and I pay a hefty amount for my therapist. I’ve even gone as far as to try to plea with God on why I should be on the 'do not wake up list'.
I can’t say that the people around me have always been aware, how do you tell the only mother figure you know (who by the way deliberately and openly sides with your predator)? How do you talk to your teacher who’s concluded that you’re simply lazy? How do start the conversation with your friends without freaking them out because you were just cracking jokes. There’s no easy way to start the conversation, in fact at some point you start hoping that strangers will notice the sadness in your eyes or the cracks between your smiles and maybe they’ll probe when they ask “how are you“ because although you responded with “I'm fine“ they are able to pick up the lie.
I’m aware of the stigma attached to the conversation and victim blaming is a huge thing. Statement such as "that those that do decide to take away their lives are selfish and only think of themselves" really baffle me and I’d like to clarify that; it is not always the case.
For instance I personally take the time and do a run down of those around me and have an idea who’s gonna feel what. Naturally the first person on that list is my biological mother. Due to the nature of the current state of our relationship I think to myself: if she can go close to a year without calling to see how I’m doing then she can definitely survive without me physically being here. I think of my friends that have turned into family and I am reminded of all the amazing memories we’ve had and I know that, it’s enough to hold them through.
At times some of the urges are stronger than others and I’ve gotten better at getting through by:
1. Acknowledging my triggers
2. Proactively preventing an escalation by directly dealing with those triggers
3. Holding space for my feelings by keeping myself present in the situation e.g. let’s say if I had a bad day at work, instead of dwelling about ALL the bad days I’ve ever had, I’ll only focus on that specific day.
I’ve had to silently hold myself through the night and other times I’ve cried myself to exhaustion. I want to give you the magical formula and would love to make it all go away but truth is that, it’s hard. The battle is within is what makes it even that much more challenging because you can’t run away from it, no matter how far you wander. I completely understand that you may not see the light at the end of the tunnel but I can promise you that there is some sort of light whether it be at the end, around, above, below or within that tunnel; you have access to that light, give it time to ignite.
I must say - the conversation is so multi layered, I cannot speak on behalf of everybody because everyone’s 'whys' differs. I am grateful to be of an era in which awareness and conversations on the topic can be openly held and the veil of stigma is being removed, slowly but surely. My only hope would be that our support goes outside of posts on social media.
The best type of people that I know that truly helped me on this journey weren’t the people that said: you’ll be fine. I can assure you that there's part of me that knows that. I mostly appreciate those that held a safe space for me to feel like myself again by acknowledging that I wasn’t okay, you wouldn’t tell someone terminally ill “don’t worry you’ll be fine”; you acknowledge the tragedy taking place and you stand by them through the journey, there’s no difference with anyone dealing with a mental health crisis.