My mom's birthday was yesterday. I realized last night that I had several more people to get birthday cards for in the next few months. My sister's birthday is next month, my dad's is in December, my youngest brother's is in January and I have a small handful of friends and a couple coworkers all with birthdays coming up in the next few months. I got the clever idea that I should make a quick list so as not to forget anyone and then go buy all the cards I need for the next few months all at once so I don't have to run to the store in the name of birthday cards nine times over the next few months. I also wouldn't have to worry about having to run out last minute in case I ended up losing track of the days and then remembering, "hey I need to send so-and-so a card because they're birthday is two days away!"
So I got my list together, double checked to make sure I wasn't forgetting anyone I planned on sending one to and then set off to get what I needed.
I love sending cards and letters. I'm one of those weird people that still enjoys hand writing out letters and thank you notes and sending them off in the mail. I almost always write an extra little note inside of cards I send because there's almost always something missing that I want said in whatever card I find.
Sometimes, I hate looking through cards, though. Sometimes, I'm looking through cards looking for a specific one. In this instance, the birthday card for my sister. Then it springs to mind that, hey, Amanda's birthday is the same day as my sisters is! I think for a second I need to get her one too and then I remember that no, no I don't need to get her one because she's been dead since she killed herself this passed June. And then I'm standing in Hallmark with tears rushing down my face while I stand in front of a row of cards that I can't really see anymore. I'm sad and I'm crying and I'm trying to stop and I feel so grateful I have on a hat that covers half of my face and relieved the ladies in that store leave you alone unless you need their help and angry at myself for breaking down in public and sad again all because I can't buy my friend a birthday card because she's gone.
So I leave without getting anything because I can't stop crying and I don't like to cry in public. I don't like to cry in front of people I know. Mostly I don't want to make a scene and don't want to explain to strangers why I'm standing in Hallmark with tears rushing down my face and I needed quiet and solitude to get myself calmed down again. So I sit in my car for 10 minutes. I think about just driving the four minutes back to my apartment but I'm stubborn and want to get what I came out for. I feel like I'm letting myself down if I go home, letting my emotions and anxieties chase me back home without completing a task. I don't want to let these things rule me, so I don't. I'm fine. So, I let myself finish crying until it doesn't feel like there's a gaping hole in the my stomach. I open my door and splash my face with water from a bottled water I had with me. I turn on some loud rock music and I take some long, deep, calming breaths and then I'm fine again. I go back in, get an odd look from the lady at the counter and I smile and she does a strange little head bow and smiles at me as I get back to buying cards.
Suicide is hard. Death is hard enough on it's own but suicide makes something hard and makes it even harder to cope with. You're in denial because no, no, no, my friend/loved one is fine and would never do that. Even if they weren't fine, this can't be right because they wouldn't kill themselves. They have friends, they have families, they seem happy and content with life. Or they're struggling but they have family and friends and people that care about them, people that love them, people that would do anything within their power to move the whole fucking Earth to make things better or at least more bearable. There's no way they would do that. You'd know, you'd be able to tell, right? Right? Wrong.
You wonder why they would've done this. You don't understand. Amanda didn't leave any kind of note explaining anything. From what I've come to understand, most whom commit suicide don't leave any kind of thought out note explaining or saying goodbye. The hardest part with reaching acceptance of their death is accepting that you'll just have to accept that they're gone without understanding why they took their life.
I cried a lot in June after Amanda's death. News of her suicide came just a few hours after I'd gotten home from celebrating my birthday and Father's Day with my family and boyfriend. I was having a party the following weekend that she was going to attend. I struggled a lot the first few weeks. Then I cried less. Then I didn't cry at all. Then the realization I wouldn't need to buy her a birthday card and wouldn't have to worry about getting her a gift for the awesome birthday party that was planned months in advance was the first time I'd cried over her death since the first week in September.
I don't know if she thought death would be easier. I don't know if she couldn't bear the thought of living life anymore after the events that lead up to her taking her life. I don't know if she was thinking her kids would be better off. I don't know if she just panicked. I don't know if thought and planning went into it. I don't know if she was just that depressed. I don't know if any of the things that I've turned over in my head after her death were thoughts she had or not.
I do know that suicide isn't the answer. I'm not just speaking as someone that has lost someone to suicide, or someone that has lost two people she cared deeply for to suicide but also as someone who has thought about it and fought through depression more than once.
I stood on a bridge once when I was 17 and thought about climbing the rails and jumping. I stood there, running my hands over the cold metal and looking down into the waters below me and thought I could just climb over, jump and nothing would hurt anymore. I've always loved bodies of water; they're calming to me. I leaned over the railing, listening to waves crashing and water churning and I felt like pushing myself over it and letting myself drown would be the most fitting way for me to go. I remember thinking it like it was the most logical thing in the world because at the time, I was a mess and just didn't want to live anymore. I was about to climb the rail when a cop car pulled up and the officer got out slowly, calling out to me. I remember how slowly he approached me, how soothing he sounded and how angry I instantly became because I knew he was ruining everything for me. It was late at night and he was curious why a young girl was out so late, by herself, hanging out on the bridge. I knew he knew what I was thinking of doing and he stood there with me, asking me if my family knew where I was at this hour. He made a few jokes and told me I needed to get on home. He followed me as I left. He followed me and made sure I actually went back home. I cried myself to sleep that night because I was so angry and sad and hurt. I cried until I couldn't breath anymore, my face buried in a pillow, my fists clenched and punching the mattress.
I decided then I couldn't commit suicide. Not because I suddenly wanted to live but because I couldn't do that to my family. I couldn't hurt them that way and I resented them for that. So, my depression got worse, I started drinking more and doing drugs a lot more. I smoked weed and took Xanax I got from a coworker as often as I could. I moved out and moved in with a friend who was a drug addict himself. We had neighbors who were big partiers. I did more drugs. I drank way more. I didn't want to kill myself anymore because I spent so much time high so I wouldn't hurt anymore. Until I came down, felt worse and wanted to die all over again. It was the worst cycle in the world.
I contemplated suicide occasionally still but then I'd just get high or take a few drinks from a bottle and I'd feel "better" again and then I wouldn't think about how I wanted to die anymore. Then one day, I met this guy. He was waiting in an office with me to do a job interview and I remember we were sitting there together, not saying much at all, then he suddenly looked at me and asked, "so why are you so sad?" I remember blinking at this guy a half dozen times trying to figure out what his deal was. He shrugged and said, "I'm a mess, I guess I recognize it in others." I just shrugged. Then this guy starts telling me that he applied for this job because he was starting over. He told me he had been really depressed and had tried to kill himself. He told me he had tried to jump off of a bridge but had figured it wrong and ended up landing wrong, breaking both of his legs instead. He was recovered and it would be the first job he'd had in a while because of that. He waited for me to talk. I just stared at him, goosebumps on my skin, not really capable of saying anything even if I had wanted to. This kid jumped from the same bridge I had only months ago contemplated hurling myself over. I've never believed in coincidences but I couldn't figure this out. We both ended up getting hired and we started working together a week later. He only worked there for six weeks but in that six weeks, he talked to me a lot about suicide and depression. It took me about a month to realize I didn't really want to die anymore. Not just because I didn't want to hurt my family but for a ton of other reasons. I don't even remember his name. I wish I could because I wish I could tell him thank you for saving me from myself. It sounds cliche but I was planning on trying again. I was trying to figure out ways I could do something to where it seemed like an accident and not suicide. My family would still be hurt but it wouldn't be as bad as losing someone to suicide. In the weeks I worked with that guy, he spent a lot of time talking at me, even though I often didn't say anything back to him at all. Then one night, I remember getting high with my then boyfriend and then sobbing into his shirt because I didn't want to die. I remember telling him everything and all he did was hold me while I ugly sobbed and came undone. I stopped thinking I'd be better off dead. Unfortunately it took quite a while longer to stop using drugs to get me through the day. It took years before I stopped abusing substances to make myself feel "better" but I got there, eventually.
That was the first period of my life where I very seriously considered suicide a viable option and unfortunately, it wasn't the last. However, I'm still here and suicide is not something I entertain the idea of anymore. Currently, I'm struggling with issues that I'm not really ready to openly talk about here yet. I'm not ashamed of them and I'm not too scared to discuss them. I'm just not ready to put it all out there. I feel like when I understand it all better, I'll be more willing to discuss it in a more open venue.
Some days I think about the periods in my life where I thought I should just kill myself and I'd like to punch that silly girl. I'd also like to hug her and let her know how much strength she really had despite how pathetic and weak she thought she was.
It can get better. Some days, it will suck. Some days, it feels like everything is wrong. Like nothing you do is right. Like nothing is moving forward in a better direction. Those days happen and you can't beat yourself up over them. You can't get stuck in those days.
No matter how alone you feel or how much you feel like absolutely no one in the world could possibly care or understand what you're going through, you are not alone. There are people out there who will understand or at least try to understand. There are people out there who will offer you empathy and support because they genuinely want you to feel better. Those people could be friends, family members, professional health care workers, a trusted co-worker, someone in an online support group or a stranger on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Hell, you can email me and I'll talk to you. Just talk to someone. Suffering in silence doesn't help. You deserve better than that. You're worth more than that.
Getting help doesn't make you weak. You don't have to be ashamed or afraid. You're not wrong. You're not broken. You're not beyond repair. Your mental illness and issues do not define who you are as a person. Whatever you're facing, it can get better.