I’m riding in the car with my sister—windows down, screaming the lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
I hear my niece laugh for the first time.
I graduate with my Master’s degree.
These are all things that wouldn’t have happened if I had gone through with it.
I did not fully understand what “suicidal” meant until I experienced it. Sure, I had studied it in undergraduate and graduate school. I could empathize to a certain degree, but I didn’t understand. Being suicidal is like being part of an elite club, except no one wants to be a member, and membership is rarely discussed.
No one told me how guilty I would feel after the thoughts stopped. How could I consider leaving behind the people I love? How could I leave a world in which I wanted so badly to have an impact? No one told me how grateful I would feel, either. Grateful to be alive. Grateful for every milestone I surpassed—despite all the pain, abuse, doubt, and hardship I had faced. I was still here. No one told me that I could simultaneously feel guilty for wanting to take my own life yet grateful that I didn’t. I felt like I was fighting for a life that I wasn’t even sure I wanted to live anymore.
I could sit here and spit out suicide facts and procedures that are put in place in an attempt to keep suicidal individuals safe. I could spit out platitudes like “check in on your loved ones” or “it’s OK not to be OK” or “just ask for help.” And while they aren’t bad or wrong, sometimes those statements feel empty and unhelpful. Someone very close to me once said, “Being honest is the greatest gift you can give someone.”
So, here is my truth. I share it in hopes that it helps you, that you can relate, or that it leaves you feeling less alone:
Asking for help was the scariest and the bravest thing that I have ever done.
Asking for help is a privilege, I recognize that now. I was privileged enough to have good insurance, a great therapist, and access to the additional mental health services I needed. Not everyone has this, actually, few do. If we want to decrease suicide rates, we have to instill hope through tangible things like better access to services, affordable housing, livable wages, open and active discussions about suicide—the list goes on.
If we want people to reach out, we need to build a system in which it is worthwhile for people to reach out.
If you are reading this and you feel hopeless—or as if the loneliness is eating you alive—I see you. I think you are brave to continue to fight for your life, even if you aren’t sure if you want to keep living it. I hope you find your moments, the ones that make life feel and appear beautiful. Cling to them. Tuck them away for when it all seems unbearable. And perhaps one day, you’ll look back and think to yourself, “I’m so glad I’m here. I’m so glad I stayed.”
Whatever you are facing, there is always hope. And we will hold on to hope until you’re able to grasp it yourself. If you’re thinking about suicide, we encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool to locate professional help and to read more stories like this one here. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor.