Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. A day that is particularly important to me. As a survivor it is a reminder of the place I came from, and the importance of ending the stigma that mental health issues are something to hide and be ashamed of. My shame of my disease kept me silent, and that silence nearly cost me my life. Approximately 1 and 5 adults experience mental illness in any given year in the United States. 1 in 5. Think about that. Anywhere you go, when you look around, 1 and 5 of those people you see are experiencing or have experienced some form of mental illness. So, why are we so afraid to talk about it? Why is there shame around something that so many us all share?
I know for myself I was afraid of being labeled “crazy,” of possibly being in an institution, whether a real threat or imagined, I was afraid of people looking at me differently, of possibly being medicated, something that frightened me as I had seen the side-effects of certain medications in my life having a negative effect, and, I was afraid of being seen as broken, or damaged. Those were the fears that kept me from reaching out and getting the help I needed. I was ashamed at how I was living my life, and my ego and pride stopped me for many years from finding the humility and courage to ask for help. It was someone who shared his story with me, who recognized what I was struggling with, and opened his heart to me about his journey that opened the door for my recovery. I appreciated his courage to share himself with me in that way, and his courage to seek treatment. I could see how his life was today and how he had changed, but I wasn’t quite ready in that moment to identify myself as having the same mental illness. Lucky for me, that story planted a seed, and a few months later, that seed had started to grow, and I realized that I did recognized myself in his story from what it had been like for him. It was the first time I felt like it was safe to tell someone the truth about the place I found myself in, the daily struggle just to get through each day and my constant hope that I would just die in my sleep and make the pain go away. But, in reality, I didn’t want to die, I just, on my own, didn’t know how to make the pain stop, but by asking for help I later found many people who did.
The key to my recovery, and my life today, was my ability to be honest with myself, and those who could help me. I found, that when I did reach out for help that there was an abundance of it, and a community of people who understood what I was going through who rallied around me in support. I learned that what I thought was something to be ashamed of was something that connected me to that community, and to many people who were already in my life who understood my struggle, and that connection meant I wasn’t alone. No one in my life turned away from me. There were certainly those who understood more than others, but those who did not asked questions and attempted to understand. Today, having nearly double digit recovery from my attempt, I am grateful to be here, to have the life I have today, and to be able to share my journey with others who may need to hear that there is hope, there is hope.
The more we talk about something the more it loses it’s power over us, the more that shame we may carry disappears and the more it give others permission to be honest about themselves. Everyone needs help sometime, and there is nothing wrong with reaching out your hand and asking for help. The day I tried to end my pain, I remember regretting what I had done, and when I talk with other survivors, I typically hear the same from them, I was lucky that I was given a second chance, but many do not get that chance, and I wonder how many regretted what they had done after they had done it, probably many.
I am here today to share my story, share my hope, share my light for the person that may be sitting in the dark, there is help all around you, there truly is, sometimes it may not be where you think it is, or where you think it should be, but it’s there. Share you truth and open your heart to finding the help you need, never be ashamed of the place you are right now, because where you are right now may just be where you need to be to get to the place you are meant to be, a place where you can be proud of who are you and who you are, and a place where your courage may just inspire someone else to find theirs. SLAY on!
SLAY OF THE DAY: Do you share your truth with those around you, or those you trust, or keep your feelings inside? If you don’t share your truth, why don’t you? Do you try? What stops you? Have you shared your truth in the past? What was the result? If it wasn’t a good result, is it possible you may have shared your truth with the wrong person or persons? Who can you share your truth with? There is no shame in needing help.
If you are not sure who or how to reach out, here are a list a resources you can trust. Suicide Help Resources
S – self L – love A – appreciate Y – you