I’ve had this post on my heart ever since I heard a podcast in December about a social media-style website that enables and encourages suicide.
You can read the article here.
I couldn’t believe it either, but it’s true.
I’ve been hesitant and struggling to write this because I have to confront a lot of my personal demons and face down something about myself I thought I would never share with anyone except my most intimate inner circle and those who lived through it with me.
However, mental health issues exacerbated by the pandemic have caused suicides to spike at an alarming rate in the United States, and no group is affected more than adolescents. The number of suicide attempts by 12- to -17-year-old girls rose by 51 percent from early 2019 to 2021 according to the CDC.
So for this reason alone, if one person reads this piece and changes their mind about ending their own life, then sharing my story will have meant more than anything else I’ve ever written.
Dear struggling person,
The silence and stigma around mental health issues perpetuate this narrative that you are alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
So I will be as brave as I can be and try my best to candidly share my experience with you all.
I have been admitted to a psychiatric facility twice over suicide. Once in 2016 for “suicidal ideation” wherein the only thought that consumed every second of my waking life for months on end was how much better the world would be without me in it. The second time was in the fall of 2019 when a similar episode resulted in a legitimate attempt. I hope to forgive myself, because it feels like I never will, for putting my sister through the trauma of dealing with that attempt because of me.
I have so many emotions around these dark periods of my life. And I know if you are reading this and know me, the happy-go-lucky girl with the bright smile who only wants to share and spread joy, you are likely very surprised.
It surprises me too because ending my life is contrary to my belief system and everything I am as a person.
But when depression wraps its insidious grip around your mind, when those happy chemicals in your brain vanish and all you are left with are the worst thoughts, worst memories, and worst parts of yourself – all you want is to escape.
The article about the social media-style suicide site really struck an uncomfortable chord with me because I love social media. And I very much wonder if I had stumbled upon that site and had a crowd of internet strangers cheering me on as I planned to end my own life, if they had been providing tips and suicide methods I was not familiar with…. If I would still be here today writing these words.
Now that I am medicated and years away from those dark periods of my life I am so grateful to still be here and I can’t even begin to put that gratitude into words.
I have to keep pausing as I write this piece because tears are splashing all over the keyboard of my laptop. The shame, the relief, the heartache, to think about how close I came to dying by my own hand.
There are beautiful moments in my life, some of them huge like my cousin’s wedding, some of them seemingly small and mundane like driving in the car with my sister, when I am struck so sharply with this sense that I could be missing all of it that it leaves me breathless.
If I had succeeded, if I had believed the lies my depression brain told me I would have totally devastated every person who loves me. And I would have cut far too short the incredible unfolding of a beautiful life and a beautiful world that still has so much to offer me.
I am so fortunate to have a long list of loved ones, my fierce inner circle who never let me spend a visiting hour alone in the hospital. All of my friends who reached out during my depressive disappearances even though I never responded.
If I can offer one piece of truth to someone in that dark place it is this: The hopeless feeling will not last.
I implore you to seek help and beg you to not make a permanent decision that will shatter everyone who loves you and extinguish your bright light in this world based on a temporary feeling.
There is a man named Kevin Hines who is an advocate for suicide prevention. He tried to end his life by jumping off of the Golden Gate Bridge. “The millisecond my legs cleared it, the millisecond of true free fall, instant regret for my actions,” said Kevin. “I just vaulted over, and I realized, at that moment, this is the stupidest thing I could have done. Everything could have changed.”
It was a long and arduous process of being hospitalized, going to intensive outpatient therapy after being released, completing the Russian roulette of psych meds that typically cause a ton of weight gain and mental fog. But it was so worth it to still be breathing and living.
All of that pain and process is worth it to me to still be here. I see a therapist and psychiatrist regularly. I take my medication religiously. But that doesn’t mean depression doesn’t occasionally sink its claws into me.
I have learned to prioritize my mental health and self-care over everything.
I quit my job in November because I could feel myself being sucked into that pit of despair and the sinister whisper of ‘I don’t want to exist anymore’ was starting to become a loud and insistent tugging on my brain.
So I quit my job which was wreaking havoc on my mental health. I moved back to my hometown and am closer to my support system than I’ve been. Quitting my job gave me hope again. I didn’t get nearly as close to the point of no return as I had in the past because I have an arsenal of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques I’ve learned over the years, my psychiatrist supplemented my regular regimen of one medication with another to help abate the suicidal thoughts and depression, and I had the amazing support of my loved ones to cry and worry and speak with.
To anyone who has that depression demon on your back spewing venom in your ear, making you feel worthless and hopeless and itching to get out of your own skin by any means possible.
I 1,000% get it and I 1,000% promise you it is not permanent.
One of my favorite Cognitive Behavioral Therapy practices I’ve ever learned is the Mountain Practice.
You are a mountain.
This mountain has been here for tens of millions of years. Its foundation is the crust of the earth. The mountain experiences all kinds of weather, beautiful sunshine and green meadows that sprout on its surface, as well as the frigid chill of winter and the tumultuousness of the occasional avalanche.
But through it all the mountain remains, because weather is as fickle and fleeting as our emotions, but our bodies? Our sacred temple and the physical vessel containing the bright light of our souls?
That is our mountain.
We will experience fireworks of pure joy and new love just as we will experience grief, loss, and sorrow. But they are fleeting and you are a mountain who can weather all storms just as Mount Everest has weathered every storm it’s seen for the past 50 million years. Do not lose hope my dear mountain.
You are not alone and you should always have hope.
The depression turned avalanche is devastating. My mountain has scars gouged out of it from my suicidal avalanches, but the most beautiful flowers grow in the springtime in those gouged out places now.
If you or a loved one is struggling with suicide I have listed resources below. All of my social media accounts are in my bio and please feel free to email me at my Her Track email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I am not a licensed therapist or counselor of any kind so please seek professional help first and foremost. But as someone who has been there and is an empathetic listener I would be more than happy to answer questions and offer a tiny corner of support for you.
The world is a better place with you in it, of this I am certain even if I’ve never met you.
24/7 Crisis Hotline: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network
1-800-273-TALK (8255) (Veterans, press 1)
Text TALK to 741-741 to text with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7
Send a text to 838255
Also visit your:
- Primary care provider
- Local psychiatric hospital
- Local walk-in clinic
- Local emergency department
- Local urgent care center