Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day and I had lofty goals of writing a moving post on what living with suicide means to me. It's something that has always been present. A shadow in the corner that can reach out and grab people when you least expect it. Not something I saw on TV or a movie, but a monster that was real, that came for people I knew.
I was going to talk about my first brush with it when I was in Elementary school and a friends father lost his battle and how watching my friends family deal with it was confusing and scary. I can clearly remember standing in my babysitters house (where we all went after school) trying to figure out what exactly was happening
I was going to talk about how, in high school, a classmate was self harming my parents helped to get her help. How that classmate didn't talk to me for a long time because my family had exposed a secret she wasn't ready for people to know about. How I felt like we had done the right thing, but somehow had still betrayed someone. It was a weird and confusing time.
I was going to talk about freshman year of college when my anxiety really reared it's ugly head and I felt the monster creeping up on me for the first time. It hovered on the edges of my mind as I tried to figure out how I would survive a place that I hated with people I didn't like. I was going to talk about driving out to the state park and staring at the waterfall and thinking, "What the hell am I doing here?" and then transferring to a new college that would be the right one for me, where a dance teacher would see my anxiety and get me help finding strategies and coping mechanisms and teach me to relax.
I was going to talk about how my cousin lost his battle a few years ago and how, even though we weren't super close, there are moments when I feel his absence so acutely that it seems like a tangible thing that I could reach out and touch. Like at the ARC race yesterday when watching the awards ceremony I felt my breath leave my body as I remembered that time he won and we cheered so loud for him from the crowd. How running carries a different weight now that he is not off in the distance running somewhere in front of me, leading the way.
I was going to talk about how my husband walked down the stairs last fall to tell me that his mom's boyfriend (who, for all purposes was basically a husband) had lost his battle and that his mom had found him just hours before at the warehouse they ran together. How my mind raced through the what ifs... how I struggled to find the right emotion because it was becoming all too common to see people die.
I was going to talk about how I worry sometimes that my anxiety will morph into something worse and that there might come a time when I will face that battle too... I haven't really yet, any thoughts of suicide have always been fleeting and abstract. A concept that is there, lingering in the shadows but never a real option, there have always been far too many reasons to live, and if we're being honest, my anxiety almost instantly produces a list of all the ways a suicide can go wrong and the idea of actually doing something like that has always been far more terrifying then not doing it ... but my life experiences tell me that the monster can come for you when you don't see it coming and even those people who seem to have it together can fight and still fall.
I was going to talk about all those things yesterday, but couldn't. My brain was not in the right place, work has already taken a toll on my nerves. My resolve to be positive and happy is already waning. I've had to deploy my plans to keep myself balanced way earlier then I thought I would. This weekend I planned a camping trip with friends and bought my autograph package to meet Misha Collins. I tried to write this post probably 5 times yesterday, each time staring at a blank screen, my mind wandering to all the things that can and might go wrong. My anxiety coming alive and taking over, the idea of writing about suicide feeding the beast and sending my brain into overdrive. So I stopped even trying to write, because why do something that causes you pain? Instead we went and played in the creek at the park and tried to catch fish with our bare hands. We went for a bike ride and had a back yard campfire. When insomnia came to visit I watched TV and did homework. And I did what I do best. I researched what other people were saying, and I'll share that below. In the absence of my own words, I'll share theirs.
So it's a new day and even though this isn't the post I had planned, it is the one that I can write today. There are so many more people out there that are writing very honestly and eloquently about suicide and suicide prevention, I'll link to some of the best that I saw below. There are a lot of resources out there if you do need help. Don't forget, if you are feeling lost or alone, if suicide feels like the only option left, remember that there are people out there who will help you. People who will lift you up. Call someone, a friend or a hotline, whatever works for you and get help. Tomorrow will be a new day and you deserve to be there too.
If you need help, the National Suicide Prevention lifeline is always available. You can call their hotline at 1-800-273-TALK or you can visit their website to access additional resources, including a live chat function.
From their website: "When you dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255), you are calling the crisis center in the Lifeline network closest to your location. After you call, you will hear a message saying you have reached the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You will hear hold music while your call is being routed. You will be helped by a skilled, trained crisis worker who will listen to your problems and will tell you about mental health services in your area. Your call is confidential and free"
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