Recovering the Desire to Live

By Leah HarrisSeptember 14, 2014

Though my last suicide attempt was 20 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the eve of my 18th birthday. I left the hospital bewildered, scared, and unsure of what would happen next.

At the time, I didn’t have much of a support system. I remember sitting on a ratty couch with my knees hugged up to my chest, trying to decide whether or not to keep on living. In those moments, something inexplicable inside of me shifted, and the part of me that wanted to live gained just the slightest advantage over the part that wanted to die.

I reached out to my family and begged them to let me come home. I began to complete my high school education. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I had something to hold on to, just a hint of solid ground beneath my feet.

Recovering the desire to live has been a long and uneven process since then. If recovery seems like an impossible concept to you as you read this, I understand. I had to take baby steps. I had to swallow my shame and ask for a lot of help. I had to find something, anything, to believe in, no matter how small. I had to work very hard, every day, to keep the part of me that wanted to live stronger than the part that wanted to die. I’ve found relief through cultivating a group of dedicated and supportive friends.

Don’t be ashamed or afraid to tell the truth of what you have known. By doing so, you break down the walls of silence and shame that surround suicide. You can use your own survival story, no matter how messy or uneven or imperfect it may be, to help someone else strengthen the part inside that wants to live. In this way, we can each make this world a safer place to fall apart, and to find ourselves again, in the healing space of supportive community.

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Comments (10)

  1. Jackson

    Wow, I was roaming around the internet and stumbled upon this…been there…twelve years ago…I got my body up, my mind is still racing. Only to find I had cancer 6 years ago..I’ve had MS. for 30 years….just when is enough, enough? I still push forward…it’s a battle indeed but the reward is when those who didn’t believe in me SEE’S JUST WHAT IM MADE OF!

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  2. Charity Hill

    Do you still have days that are harder than others to have that desire? Do you still deal with the dark thoughts and if so how do you deal with it?

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    1. Anonymous

      It’s been 7 years since I’ve done anything to myself. But everyday since then has had its own triumphs and failures….it does get easier with the better days because you can see that yes I can do this, but on the bad days it makes you question. To be honest, to deal with everything, I write my feelings and I read my bible. What I’m trying to say is that you have to find an outlet that is healthy and that makes the better days more numerous. You can get over those hurdles and in fact, everyone can. My motto is have faith, have hope, and never ever give up. Because I know what life is like without all these things and for me, I was just existing then, not living. I wish you the very best and remember you can do this!!!!!

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    2. Jennifer Cook

      I deal with that. Some days are really hard. The thing about relapse is that, by definition, you’re going backwards. Though this seems sad, it’s also very hopeful because it means you’re coming from somewhere better. THIS means, a somewhere better exists. That’s what keeps me going on the hard days. Like Leah said, there is supportive community in this world, and the knowledge that I and others have made it through gives me hope that anything is possible.
      Some days, I also pull through for other people who are struggling. I want to show people that recovery is possible. In relapse, it’s easy to feel worthless and undeserving, so shift your focus to other who are struggling. Pull through to spread hope.

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    3. Devin

      I last attempted suicide when I was 16. I’m 22 now and still struggle with the thought of it. Not only do I still get the fleeting defeating thought that it would be “easier to die” but I dream about it. Suicide and self harm. It’s hard to deal with. But I have to day after feeling terrible is always so much better because I survived. And surviving is a huge accomplishment.

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  3. Ember

    Charity, I still do. It hurts sometimes cause you want to be happy. The trick is to find something to make you laugh everyday. Or, at least smile. It’s not easy, but over time you’ll remember that there is more light than dark.
    Great article; glad there are people who feel this way too.

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  4. Just Me

    Charity Hill-I know you’re not asking me, but I have been to dark places, and yes, there are days that are harder than others. I know they’re very scary. One of the things that helps me is, on good days, I write down exactly how I’m feeling, and capture in words, with the best of my ability, how much hope and desire to live I have. Then, on bad days, I have those little (not so little) reminders to read 🙂

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  5. Ash

    I’m glad to hear of someone finding their way, even a little.
    I’ve not yet had a day that I’ve wanted to live more than I’ve wanted to die, and I’m about to turn 26…still trying to fight though, and stay strong for those I care about.

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  6. Anonymous

    This is profound. I don’t know if you know it but what you said is very spiritual. We must desire strongly to live God wants us to live overcome and be a help to others. He created us and gave us our significance. When my computer is not working correctly we sent it back to the manufacturer who created it and they fix it better than most people who just know about computers they know their computer. Same with God he knows us because He created us and only he can heal us and Restore us. we must send ourself back to the one from where we came. Thank you for being so brave. God bless you, Kim wear

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