And so I kept living.
This year’s World Suicide Prevention Day campaign wasn’t about the highs. It wasn’t about the mountaintops or about the glory that comes with reaching them. No, it recognized the lows, the points in your life you wish you could erase. It called up memories of the things you’re too ashamed to think about, the ones that still haunt you. It acknowledged that we all have our demons, the ghosts that keep us up at night. We all have wisps of memories that taunt us, beckoning us to come closer to depression or to self-harm or to addiction or to suicide.
This year’s WSPD campaign acknowledged that choosing to stay alive is a rebellious cry, one that sings of hope and courage. I lived. I lived. I lived. It acknowledged that, in the face of adversity, we chose life. We made this choice when we got out of bed, when we decided to get help, and when we actually got that help. We chose it with every laugh and with every tear and with every other gut-wrenching, raw emotion. This year’s campaign told us, “You might have to face your worst fears, but you don’t have to be fearless.” It told us it’s OK to be scared. It asked us to be brave anyway.
So be brave. Give your therapist your blades. Scream and beg for recovery. Forgive yourself. Defy the voice that tells you that it won’t get better. Depression is lying to you. Put it back in its place. Dare to be hopeful.
I can ask all of this from you because I have been there, and I’ve had to do it too. I know how it feels to loathe every inch of your being, to wish your existence away. At sixteen years old, I struggled with my sexuality as I came to terms with the idea of being disabled for the rest of my life. I felt like a freak. My friends, happy and healthy during our junior year of high school, didn’t understand what I was going through. And I couldn’t blame them for that. I couldn’t hold them accountable for their blissful ignorance. I envied that ignorance, the joy in not knowing pain. I still do.
Slowly but surely, I became depressed. I began self-harming, and I contemplated suicide. It was one of the lowest points of my life. I confided all this in my friend, one of the two who had stuck around after I dropped out of school. She seemed concerned, but I thought nothing of it. Luckily, she loved me enough to tell my mom about what I was going through. That was four years ago.
I like to think that we all have two birthdays—the day we were born and the day we started fighting for our lives. That fateful day was my rebirth, although I didn’t know it at the time. It was the day I recognized depression for what it truly is: a liar and a thief. That day, I flushed my blades down the drain. I was determined to find myself again.
So think back to this year’s slogan—And so I kept living—and celebrate your victories.
Yes, you did it.
Yes, you chose life.
Yes, you kept living.
And there is absolutely nothing in this world that is more beautiful than that.
I was in tears reading this. I’m 16 my own self and I’m depressed and have contemplated suicide and felt like I wasn’t worthy at times. I’m glad to know that I’m not alone.
I lived my whole teen years unable to shake off the grip of self harm, mild anorexia nervous, severe anxiety, abuse and suicidal tendencies. I hung on. Now I’m 30, chilled out, happy and can’t be bothered meeting others expectations coz I’m busy being me. This is while living on welfare and living with epilepsy, circumstances dictate I should feel worse than I do. Never thought I’d be where I saw others being. Specifically believed being alive and empty my whole life was worth enduring if I lived a whole life to the full. Now I’m, normal, ordinary, healthy, WELL. The pain isn’t worth the suffering, the diamonds are. The battles didn’t make me stronger, I did and I’m so proud of myself. It’s hard to learn to love and respect yourself unconditionally, it’s awesome to live it as a natural reflex.
Thank you for this, I am almost in tears because I realized who I want to be, someone who kept living, someone with a story to tell. And now I’m going to as much as I can to remember not to give up, I feel so empowered, thank you. I’m going to find me.
Samantha Nadler, LMSW
I currently oversee a lived experience newsletter in TN for people who have survived suicidal thoughts or attempts. I saw this article and I was hoping I could have your permission to republish it on a future newsletter, please? You can learn more about previous publications here: http://tspn.org/can-you-hear-me
We would of course credit you and where the post originated. Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.
Samantha Nadler, LMSW
Grace has given permission to use her piece. Please include a note at the beginning of the article that says it was originally published on TWLOHA’s blog.
this saved my day
Thank-you. Right now, you’re words have helped me. I don’t want to talk about it. My friends just found out that i had another relapse. The pain ends for awhile but then as you said the demons come back and I can’t seem to fight. My own family don’t even listen they tell me its a sin against god but then they never talk to me or try to get help. I’ve tried myself but I can’t. But after reading Rachel’s story, and yours and a few others I want to get help. I want to have my second birthday and never go back. And I am scared, scared of being judged, scared of having pity. i just wish that I could turn back the clock to when I 6 years and be happy,enthusiastic again. Hopefully, with getting help I can. But I do know that things are never going to be the same again. Thank-you so much for your words.
Things can and will get better if you reach out for the help you need and deserve. You are worthy of help. And we are inspired by your honesty and openness to express your struggles and the call for help.
If you are not familiar with any resources in your area, please visit our Find Help page here: https://twloha.com/find-help/local-resources/
Also, please know that you can text TWLOHA to 741741 via Crisis Text Line. There are trained counselors available to you 24/7 for free. Message them when you need to. They are there to help you.
You can email us at [email protected], too. We read and respond to every message we receive. We’re so glad you are asking for help. Your feelings are valid, those who judge you may not understand. Just focus on getting the help you need. That’s what matters.