September has been designated as suicide prevention month. As I stroll through all of the post about being aware of your moods and listening closer to others, I think about the many years I suffered with suicidal ideation and attempts. I can remember the first time I tried to end my life. I was 14 years old and I was healing from a recent date rape incident while still suffering through the flashbacks of when I was sexually violated, for six months, the year before.
I had a dream that I was pregnant, with a little girl, and I was afraid that if my mother found out she would be angry at my irresponsibility of getting raped and being pregnant as a result. I never went for a pregnancy test, I suffered in silence and beat myself up for not being strong enough to prevent the assault from happening. I remember thinking, "I am not worthy of a child, how am I going to take care of a baby? I'm stupid! I don't want to be here anymore!" I went into my mother's medicine cabinet and grabbed a bottle of medicine I thought were pain pills. I figured if I took enough of them then I would get rid of me and the baby. I poured myself a handful of pills and a tall glass of water. Down the hatch they went. I laid myself down and thought about all the things I could do with a new baby... love her, play with her, talk with her, help her to be a stronger young woman than I could ever be. I wished myself to sleep, praying that death would come swiftly. Well... death never came to visit. My mother came home and asked me why were her vitamins in our (her children's) bathroom and not in her room. VITAMINS?! Ugh! I can't even kill myself right! I remember thinking of how big of a failure I was in doing the one thing I figured couldn't be very hard to do. I mean, the movies make it look so simple...right?!
From that moment in 1981 till about 2007 (I was 40 years old) I tried to take my life at least once a year. I used various methods, but none of them worked. After my last attempt I made a deal with myself that I wouldn't try anymore. I began building a support system that started with a therapist, a calendar and a journal. My therapist helped me discover new ways of liking myself. You see, my self esteem was never the best so I could never see a real reason why I should exist in this world. When I began to view myself as important to ME then my view of my life changed too. Here are some of the tools I used:
I began to think about the fun things I like to do (crafts, playing with my children, traveling, playing in the park, watching sunsets on the beach, etc.)
I remember that tough times do last long. They may linger and I may feel bad from the memory, but... life and circumstance do change and I must allow myself to grow and change too.
I wrote down my moods everyday on a calendar and that helped me to monitor when I was not feeling my best so that I could pre-plan a way to make myself feel good.
I used music to help me identify my feelings and journaled my thoughts to get them out of my head. If the pain was really deep then I would burn the paper to relieve me of the pain. If I felt as though I could benefit later from my thoughts, I would put the note away and read it later when I felt better to remind myself of the moments when I could help myself heal.
One thing I like to remind myself is that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Everything can be worked out if you just give yourself a chance. When someone commits suicide those who survive them think about how much pain they are feeling. I challenge them to consider the will, pain and consideration of the person who has died. Suicide is more challenging than anyone can ever consider which is why I said it's a reminder of life lost. Those who succeed in their suicidal attempts feel as though their life has already ended so why continue on. What I want to say to that thought is this... You are enough regardless of what anyone says to you. Not only are others relying on your love, expertise, joy and support; you are looking for those things as well. You truly do hold the key to your mental wellness. It's ok to not be ok. It's ok to take some time to take care of you. It's ok to love you inspite of it all. Love you first and foremost and you'll find the love you have for others will grow, vibrate and will rejuvenate the beauty you are as a person.