Why I won't let myself forget the day I tried to end my life
I was 19 when I tried to commit suicide. I was deeply lonely with years and years of depression and hallucinations under my belt, and drowning in so much self-hatred that it manifested physically —making me sick with glandular fever, compulsions to hurt myself which resulted in my weight to be whittled down to a precarious number and leaving my wrists a ruddy bruised color.
There were a lot of factors that brought me to that moment: a controlling and what I found later to be an abusive relationship, years of depression, the fear that I was going crazy, loneliness, unemployment, and the belief that the only way for me to be released from this building pressure was death.
Before I go on, I’d like you to know that you are much bigger than what you might be going through right now, right this very minute. Human beings are very resilient creatures —life can bend us backwards but it’s all in our own two hands whether we decide to break or swing back. While I can’t say that I’m 100% better (is anybody?), today I can wake up and have breakfast, a feat that was an immensely difficult task a year ago.
Today I won’t be resorting to self-harming methods to cope with stress or anger. Instead, I talk myself down from the ledge, breathe deeply and wait for the urges to subside. Getting to this point in my life wasn’t by pure luck or good intentions. It was reached through persistent hard work paired with support, non-judgmental love and time. There was a lot of (gratitude) journalling involved, taking prescribed medication, re-training my inner thoughts from being negative to positive and being gentle with myself. I never marked the date of my suicide attempt because I was too ashamed to ever purposely remember I tried something so stupid; but in hindsight, I wish I had.
Part of the reason I wish I’d marked the date is because I’m starting to forget how serious it was, and that scares me. I’m starting to be very blasé about the whole thing, like it was a fictional twist I made up to make my life sound more interesting. The more I’m ashamed and the more I bury the memory, the more I forget how precious life is or how much I appreciate how far I’ve come. I’m scared of being so out of touch with the event that I come across as distant or cold to somebody with the same experience. I’m scared of fooling myself into thinking it never happened. I’m scared of losing touch with the sensitivity of suicide and its repercussions in both the survivor’s life and their family’s. I’m scared of becoming ungrateful for my second chance.
Remembering can sometimes come with pangs of shame, hurt and humiliation, like someone somewhere in the world is smirking at me behind their hand. But I think I need to remember —not dwell on it necessarily, but remember that humility to bring into my life today. Humbled that I’m given a second chance, appreciation for the frailty of life and purpose, an understanding to love people more deeply even if they seem self-sufficient —because I find that the most angry person is usually hurting too.
And looking back now, the two years that have flown by since I tried to take my life, I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t be ashamed. I can’t regret something that was the turning point in my life. I shouldn’t cringe if ever I was asked to talk about it with somebody, worrying about how they’ll see me now that they know the “truth.” Because really, the person two years ago who tried to end her life, that isn’t or wasn’t the real me. She was blinded by hatred, agony and desperation.That isn’t the “truth” about the real me.
The truth is, I’m quickly learning how important it is to mark dates and how harmless memories really are. This memory shouldn’t make me afraid, and I shouldn’t hide it away. The memory should be loudly labeled: I DIDN’T JUST SURVIVE, I’M NOW THRIVING.
And that’s the truth. Not that every day is perfect, nor is it not a perpetual struggle. But despite what you or I have been through or will go through, we will continue to grow and learn and mark significant dates. We shouldn’t forget because there is always somebody who might benefit or find comfort from our stories. So please don’t forget because of guilt or shame, instead be friends with your past self and understand that while it isn’t who you are anymore, it played a role in birthing who you’ve become today. Wherever you are in your journey of recovery, you are precious and stronger than you think.
[Editor’s note: If you, or anyone you know has contemplated suicide, please know that there are places that can help. Call Suicide Prevention: 1-800-273-8255, or go to The Suicide Prevention Lifeline website. You are not alone, and you are loved.]
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