One year ago today, I tried to end my life. One year. It has been a year of trials and triumph, heavy and light.
1 residential treatment stay
2 serious suicide attempts
3 failed attempts at trying to stop self-harming
4 different psychiatrists
5 inpatient hospitalizations
The year after a suicide attempt can be horrible. It’s scary, confusing, and every day you wake up not knowing if that day is going to be a good day or not.
But in the last year, I have…
1. Grown in more ways than I ever thought possible.
2. Met friends whom I share these experiences with.
3. Found the courage to talk about my story.
4. Advocated for suicide prevention during National Suicide Prevention Week.
5. Walked in the “Out of the Darkness” suicide prevention walk.
6. Started a new school.
7. Discovered my life calling.
8. Gone through the 12 steps of celebrate recovery.
9. Found the ultimate source of peace in God.
10. Started volunteering to faithfully invest in other young students lives.
If December 2 of 2015 hadn’t happened, I do not know that those 10 things would have happened. I very much believe that had I not tried to kill myself, I would be stuck in the same miserable lethargic web I was in. I would have never chosen recovery. You see, the phrase “everything happens for a reason” really is true.
Two days after my attempt, on December 4 of last year, I woke up in the CCU with no recollection of how I got there, laying in my own crap, a ventilator and stomach pump inside of me, hands restrained, and the inability to speak or see clearly. I woke up angry. So angry that I had to go through this. So angry that I was even still alive. I went from the Critical Care Unit, to the psychiatric floor, to home for the holidays, to starting a daily treatment program, to a suicide attempt again, back to ICU, inpatient, residential treatment… Throw in three more in-patient stays, starting a new school, countless therapy sessions, good days, bad days, friends leaving and stepping in, and you will get to here. One year later.
One year ago today, depression and suicide ruled my life, inside and out. Despite the fact that I’d managed to hide my depression from family and friends, it was now known. It was public. I attempted suicide on my college campus. My parents were at the hospital. My friends were afraid I was dead.
One year ago today, I wasn’t the same person because of those thoughts. I was an empty shell that barely even went through the motions. I wasn’t living. I was just there.
One year ago today, I made a choice. I made a choice to live for the days I had missed and all the days that were to come. I made a choice to strive for a look of pride in my best friend’s eyes. I made a choice to heal my broken heart and find the pieces of my soul in the world around me to put it back together. I made a choice to change; to change for me.
One year ago today, I knew that my decision would not be easy, and, my God, was that an understated prediction. I knew that every day I would have to push through the desire to reach for the razor, to burn myself with my cigarette, to let my feelings come to the surface. To look my mom in the eye and see the pain that is always there because of what I tried to do. Every day I would have to fight back the demons that begged me to give in to my own darkness. Every day I would have to remember that just because the sun was setting, that did not mean it would not rise again the next day. Because it would rise. It would rise on a new bright day that was important for so many things, to be alive.
But because of what happened one year ago today, I am still here one year later.
Now, I’m not saying the year was easy. I’m not saying that every day wasn’t a battle. It was. But every day I fought the battle was another day I won, and suicide lost. So it’s one year free of actively fighting my demons. One year free of letting them win and take me over.
And one year full of living. One year full of adventures and sunsets and sunrises and starlight. One year filled with smiles and tears, happy and sad. One year filled with love and heartbreak and a yearning for tomorrow. One year of dreams and goals and art-making and music and laughing. A year filled with feeling the rain on my skin and the sunshine on my face. A year filled with just feeling.
I know that recovery is real, but there are also still dark days. However, we are never really alone. I know its hard to believe that when all you feel is the hopelessness of depression. That’s a moment that I turn to music.
“When the lies speak louder than the truth—remind me I belong to YOU. When I can’t see past the dark of night, remind me you’re always by my side. We are the sons and the daughters of God.
No matter where we go—we are close to the Father’s heart. Though we stumble He will not let us fall. We are the fathers, and he’ll never forget his own.”
Now, as a survivor of one year—I continue to put a smile on my face, try to look hopeful. Try to be as encouraging as possible because “I kept living, I am worth this fight” is a powerful message and a powerful testimony that I am gifted to be able to live out for other people.
Things have been weighing on me for awhile thinking about this day coming up, but then God spoke to me through this song.
At the end of the day today—this is what I know.
I tried twice and have finally come to accept that God is running this show and he has left me here for a reason. I have a purpose.
I have people who have chosen to love me and believe in me when I am unable to believe in myself. People whom continuously tell me why I need to keep fighting. People who I know are proud of me.
The scars that I have inside and outside of me—are meant to stay scars. Scars are meant to heal.
Someday I am going to be an amazing Art Therapist, and I will wear my story fully, loudly and proudly to let other people know that it gets better.
A year ago I could never imagine feeling joy again. My world was dark and terrifying. But I do feel joy. I have, I do and I am so grateful.
I was stranded at sea. Trying to find the shore again. Trying to find a way to go back to normal. I eventually have made it to shore, but I find myself in a new country. Although this is not my homeland, I could never go back—not after what happened. I had to make shelter where I landed. Things are different now, but that’s okay.
They say if you wait long enough, that it gets better. I wanted to be around to see that—and you know what…
They were right.
Hope rings louder than my illnesses. Suicide loses more every single day I am alive. I am alive. I am present. I am here. This world has infinite possibilities and I plan to stay.
So today, one year after—I’m asking you to do the same. If you are struggling, if you are hiding behind your vices from a world you’re afraid of seeing. If you’re facing the demons in the darkness and feel like no one else is on your side. If you’re calling out into the night and feel like no one can hear you but the trees and even they are too busy bustling in the breeze. If you feel lost and broken and think you have nowhere to turn. If you are cold and scared and unsure of where to go. Remember: You have the choice. You have the power to cast the demons and the darkness back into the pits they came from. You have the strength to reach out and take hold of the hand that is grasping so desperately to pull you back into existence. You have that strength; you have so much more strength than you think.