Today’s post will be a very personal one, and I hope by sharing my account and a personal anecdote of writing I found the courage to write a few years ago, it will change and even save lives.
It all began with a blog post that was retweeted earlier this week by Almond Press, an independent publisher out in Scotland that publishes fiction in the dystopian and apocalyptic genres. It was a blog from a fellow writer and the blog was called Drifting Pages. The title caught my attention: “Suicide Prevention Week: Why I’m Glad I Kept On Living” In the post, the writer talked about the #IKeptLiving she came across on her Twitter feed. That moment led her to reflecting back on her struggles, her lowest point and, ultimately, her rise from rock bottom and what she realized years later by not following through on what she wanted to do. You can click the article title above if you want to check out the post.
The reason I bring this up is because it led me to something I wrote a few years ago, and, to reflect and recall my own encounter with suicide at the age of 14. Even typing this, I’m finding it difficult to talk about this because not only is this a very personal testimony, but also an issue that still carries so much stigma in today’s world because of issues of depression and anxiety. After recovering from my suicidal thoughts, the road was still hard until I finally accepted and got help when I had hit rock bottom at 21 while entering my third year of college. I began to find healing and clarity from the demons that continued to follow me even after I broke out of the fog at 14. It wasn’t easy, and it took time that I finally allowed myself to undertake and understand to move forward in my life.
One of my many dreams besides publishing/writing books was to become an advocate for suicide prevention. But, I confess, I felt because I had only the thoughts that it wasn’t enough. It didn’t qualify me as someone who dealt with suicide. But, I have realized I was wrong about that assumption.
It was the darkest period of my life, 14 years old. 19 also came close to that point again, too. But, ta few things saved me both times. At 14, it was a friend who talked me out of it and, I believe, God reaching out to me through putting the words “You’re better than this,” in my heart to show He still cared for me and never abandoned me as I had believed when I was younger. I later confessed it to my mom who supported me and assured me she loved me. At 19, it was breaking down crying in my car on a very rainy day when my insecurities of being perfect and fears of failure hit a breaking point. There was also being soothed by the voice of David Archuleta singing his favorite hymn “Be Still My Soul” from his BEGIN. album while he was serving as a missionary in South America that helped me remember where I was and feeling God’s presence.I was also brought close to home about the subject when actor/comedian Robin Williams died in August 2014 of suicide. I remember to this day when my dad first told me the news when he saw it online and not believing it until ABC World News anchor David Muir confirmed the reports on television just a short time later. I wanted to fall to my knees in tears in my living room just, as I can only imagine, so many fans, colleagues and others were just as distraught in receiving this news. It made me really question why I was still here. Why was I able to find strength? Why was I able to find my way out of the abyss and darkness that could have taken my life too? How was I able to find my way, when he didn’t?
It haunted me, a lot and maybe that’s why over two years later I struggle in remembering his death. Or, ever since I started recovering from the personal demons in my life that I never want to look at those demons again. Just move on from them.
Until you realize you can’t, or haven’t.
I am now 23 years old, and have thrived in ways I could have never imagined. Gone to places I thought were impossible. Finding people through churches, friends, my major adviser during my time at Smith, professors and where I did my work study jobs who really loved and cared for me when I didn’t see it in myself. David Archuleta’s music and personality also held a special place in my heart, and, in my life for being the light in a dark place I so desperately needed.
Each, and every one of us, whether famous or not, rich or poor, black or white, religious or not, and so on…have seen difficult, dark periods. Some unfortunately thought taking their life was the answer. Others were awakened by loved ones before or after the fact if they survived an attempt.
I was very lucky it never went past thoughts in my head.
I want to do more, and wish I could. When National Suicide Prevention Week comes around every September, I want to. I want to participate in a walk, to educate myself more so I can become that advocate.
I have to try harder. Plus, it should be to help others, not to alleviate any guilt I may have for not doing much before. We all wish we could do more, “big, dramatic things” as David Archuleta said during a Time Out for Women event in Madison, WI last night in discussion of efforts to help flood victims in Louisiana. But, we should keep in mind of “the small, simple things” (David again haha he’s quite wise for his age) we could do in our lives that would make the biggest difference to someone else.
I don’t have all the answers, I’ve said that before. But I’d like to believe love, compassion, hope and sharing your story to save another can do so much. More than we’ll probably ever know.
If you’d like to learn more, you can check out the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at https://afsp.org/. There is also the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or their number at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
If anyone who is dealing with suicidal thoughts or feelings is reading this, you are not alone. Please know that it gets better, that you are loved and your life, and voice, matters to people more than you realize.
To close this post, I am posting a link to David Archuleta’s rendition of “Be Still My Soul” from YouTube Channel 8throwcenter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGvs86boyu8. I am also sharing a monologue I wrote about the topic in my Creative Writing for the Theatre class my first year of college called “Suicide Child.” I warn you in advance it may be difficult to read and is semi-autobiographical so please proceed to read with caution.
Scene: Bedroom at night. Shade down, lamp on. Wrapped up in bath robe with dry tears against her face.
Character: Kris, a depressed 14 year old teenager who decided not to cut herself.
It was like I heard a voice calling out to me that night. I was alone, the water beating against me and my wet hair hanging against my face. I look up and see a razor by the bath tub. I just wanted to reach my hand out and touch it. Cut my arms until they bled. I pictured myself wanting to smoke. To drink alcohol. Do things to my body to harm it, damage it, just like life damaged me.
That’s when it happened. I heard a voice in my head: You’re better than this. I stared in shock as the water continued to pour out from the showerhead. I didn’t touch the razor then.
Why? Has God finally heard the cries of this troubled, brokenhearted child? This young girl who gave up on all because life wouldn’t guide or help her when needed most? Love, hope, faith, friends, family. They were nothing but lies and betrayals that life masked like a masquerade. A fake one hiding ugliness under hopes of goodness and love in a world so fallen and dark.
God. Have you heard me? Has He heard me when I gave up? He abandoned me! He led me here! When I needed Him most He gave up on me. He had let me down over and over and over until I could take no more and said to God, “I’m a mistake to You. I don’t matter to You. I’m nobody. I’m nothing. I have been punished.”
But God is more than that. God does not want fear. He does not want to be abandoned, just like a child so lost and now found in His grace. Suicide makes one think. I have heard the stories. People who gave up. Ended it all. They just couldn’t take any more of it. They had one choice left when all was lost, and this was it.
Suicide has opened my eyes to what I can do. I hit rock bottom and found myself slowly seeing past the darkness of my past and shattered heart. There is good in this world. There has always been good.
I am a suicide child. I am one of many. I matter. We matter. We can survive, because I have.