We live in a society that simultaneously files mental illness under the ‘do not talk about” tab while also romanticizing it. For those of us that have struggled through mental illnesses for the better part of our lives, this is extremely problematic. It has led to people making light of the issues that so many others truly struggle with, while also making it extremely difficult to be open about our illnesses without sounding like we want attention. One of the biggest problems this leads to is an excessively high suicide rate in our country, but it is not time to give up just yet.
At the age of fifteen, I attempted suicide. I had been self-harming for about two years prior, and I had reached a level of defeat and loneliness in my life that I genuinely believed this was my last and only option. I had manipulated my own reality, and had successfully convinced myself that I was more of a burden upon my family than I was an asset. Looking back now, it breaks my heart to think that at the age of only fifteen I had these falsehoods engrained into my brain. How I reached rock bottom at such a young age, I still do not know. I do know, however, the way that I have fought my way back onto my feet, back into a world where happiness is in everything, and back into an emotional state where I can be happy with who I am and what I am becoming.
Surviving a suicide attempt is something that I by no means want to have on my list of experiences, but it is something that has allowed me to see the world in an entirely new way. It has now been almost five years since that day, and I am so completely overwhelmed with the number of things in my life that would have gone unexperienced had I succeeded in ending my own life. At the time of my attempt, there was nothing in my life that I thought would make me change my mind. I did not have close friends that I thought would miss me, I did not have a boyfriend, and I did not have anything in my life that I saw as one day being amazing. However, in the last five years of my life, I have learned that I was so completely and utterly wrong about absolutely everything. In those short years, I have had two nieces and a nephew born. I have adopted a dog that would have never had a home without me. I have met people that today I could not picture my life without. These life changes have been amazing, but I know I see them in a brighter light because I was so close to having never seen them in the first place.
I think a lot of people imagine surviving a suicide attempt means that you wake up in the hospital after a few days, and you have a sudden realization that you made a mistake and life is amazing and everything is going to be perfect from now on. That is by no means the case, and the severe depression that I struggled with took months after the attempt on my own life before I had it under control. However, my suicide attempt did make me realize that I needed to get better. Still, I get extremely emotional thinking about the moment that my sister found me in my room, incoherent and barely responsive. This memory by no means has ridden me of my depression and it did not magically make my mental health perfect. But it sure as hell made me realize that my life was valued, whether I saw it or not. My depression handicapped my ability to see my own value, but it did not prevent me from seeing some forms of basic logic. I loved my family, but I was not aware of the love they had for me until that very moment.
I do not tell this story in order to tell you how my suicide attempt was somehow a ‘blessing’. It was the hardest and worst thing I have ever gone through, but just like anything else in life, it did teach me many valuable lessons. It made me realize that the future is full of amazing things, but it is impossible to experience them if you are not alive. Life is full of hardships, it’s full of amazing experiences, and it’s full of the day-to-day activities that we do not pay attention to. I ask you, whether you suffer from a mental illness or not, to look at the most basic thing near you and realize how amazing it truly is. The technology that goes into your cell phone? That is truly an unfathomably complex concept. The number of people it took to build the building you are in? All of those people are individuals with thoughts and lives just as unique and interwoven with the world as your own. This world is amazing, but sometimes it is harder for some people to realize it. Similarly, I hope that I am able to somehow show others that it should not take an attempt on your life in order to see the good in this world.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255