*Trigger warning* this post talks about my experience with suicidal thoughts
I remember it clear as day. In the middle of a beach run, attempting to clear my head of the internal struggles I was dealing with while also trying to hold back the tears. I desperately wanted the pain I was going through in my life to end and the thoughts of ending my own life came piling over me.
I was truly struggling with hating every piece of myself because I couldn’t seem to do anything right in the relationship I was in and being blamed for every bad situation was wearing on my soul. I could barely look at myself because I hated myself for not accomplishing my goals athletically and to me it seemed that no one understood the pain I was going through – I had been named Woman of the Year and was a top 30 finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year, how could I be frustrated with myself for not accomplishing my athletic goals when those awards were something I had never even dreamed of? Regardless, it felt like I had failed myself, I didn’t meet the goals my coach and I had for myself. I never ran the time I wanted to and I never won a lot of the races I should have because I let fear hold me back, and I hated myself for it. To some, my problems were small, but to me, they were real, they were causing me indescribable pain and consuming me with thoughts and desires to no longer be alive.
Holding back the tears, I quickly experienced the stigma that too many others who have experienced suicidal thoughts have experienced. I endured the pain of opening up to my boyfriend at the time about my own struggles with suicidal thoughts and not feeling like I had the love, understanding or support to get the help I needed. There were immediate negative comments about therapy and how it would be a waste of time, so getting help no longer felt like an option to me. I remember how much further I sunk into my thoughts of feeling that the world would be better off without me and that I didn’t want to be on this earth anymore. I remember feeling worthless, without a purpose, and felt the stigma around suicide and overall mental illness in overwhelming ways from a person I trusted. I remember wishing in those dark moments that I could speak up and get help, but I was ashamed and embarrassed because the person I went to created a cloud of stigma around me. I luckily have a pretty big circle of people who are there for me, but after he made me feel ashamed, I was too afraid to talk to anyone else. Eventually, what felt like too long after, I felt brave enough to fight back against the stigma and seek out therapy, which truly saved my life, gave me tools and techniques to deal with what I am going through, helped make me stronger, love myself and appreciate the blessing of every day. Therapy helped me to realize that during my dark times, I never wanted my life to end, I just wanted the pain to end, and ending my life seemed like the most probable solution to end the pain.
But today and every day I am thankful that I was able to fight the roadblocks and stigma in my life, get the help I needed and continue to see every tomorrow I am granted to live, but most of us can’t keep fighting this fight without the proper support and professional help. I have heard way too many people over the years make statements that only increase the stigma around mental illness and suicide, but these very negative stereotypes against suicide are the same comments that prevent people from seeking the help that they desperately need that could save their lives.
I truly believe that we need to put away our negative misperceptions and stigma about suicide and mental illness and lend a healing hand and a listening ear to those who are suffering. Even if you don’t quite understand or comprehend how or why a person could take their own life, listen anyway, be there anyway. This topic will never be easy, but if we can be part of the movement to break down the walls of stigma, we can help to change and save lives.
Suicide does not discriminate, it can look like your best friend, your neighbor or maybe it has even looked like you, it has certainly looked like me. If you are struggling, know I have been there, some days I am still there, I am here for you and I pray you have others that are here for you too. Because at the end of the day, you are worth it, I am worth it, we are all worth it. There is beauty in tomorrow, things may be hard now, but they will get better, there is light in every tomorrow, even on your darkest days. You have a purpose on this earth, a talent and a message to share with the world, a loving heart to help heal others, a mind filled with so many innovative and beautiful thoughts and so many people around you that love you and are fighting this fight with you. Know that you are not alone, even when it feels like no one understands or wants to listen, trust me that there is someone out there who wants to help. I am so thankful I kept fighting for me, I believe you can keep fighting for you too, keep going my friends, keep going.
If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, please know that you are not alone. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255, if you are thinking about suicide or worried about a friend or loved one.
Samaritans, Inc is also a great suicide prevention organization as well and can be reached 24/7 at 877 870-4673.
Finally, check out the MY3 App sponsored by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that you can download which includes three contacts you can call in a time of crisis, and other great features like a safety plan and coping strategies.
Be Beautifully, Simply, You