Choose Life

Before going forward, I want to be very clear about a few things. Understand that I am not a clinician or a social worker. I am not a medical doctor, psychiatrist, nor psychologist, nor do I want to be.
I am me and I say this proudly.
I am me without apology, in fact, and before going forward, I am not claiming to be a professional or an authority; however, I someone of experience on the matter.

I received a text message yesterday about a teenage suicide in a nearby town. I struggle to write further because suicides do tend to cluster. This is a sad fact and should be taken into consideration.
Therefore, I want to write about this from a different perspective because in my case, hearing the news of other attempts was encouraging to me.
See, I was that kid too.
And it doesn’t matter what others might have seen on the surface. The truth is I was that kid. I was that kid who deep down saw no other option. I saw myself as flawed

The following is how I saw this from my eyes and taken from a behind the scenes perspective. People are certainly welcome to their opinion; however, everyone has an opinion and the following story, well, this is just how I saw it. I offer nothing scientific or quote any statistics.

At the time, I felt the world was spinning too quickly. At the time, I swore nothing could ever be fixed.
The idea of me saving my own life again seemed unlikely.
And it’s like that too —in fact, it’s just like that. You have to save your own life, every day, all the time.
And it’s exhausting.

It’s not that I wanted to die so much; it’s that I just wanted everything to stop. I was pent up. I wanted to feel free. I wanted to escape but every other option was only temporary.
It became so that I was afraid to smile.
I mean, why smile?
Why feel anything else?
Besides, as I saw it smiles were only temporary . . .
What do I do when the smile goes away?
What will I do when everyone leaves and I feel all alone, or worse, I am alone?

I understand people do not like to hear these thoughts and they rush to silence them but silencing them only creates the more of the problem.

I hear people ask about suicide. I hear people wonder why anyone would take their own life.
But I don’t wonder . . .
In all honesty, I get it, which is more helpful to someone who say, is on the ledge and looking to jump.
They would rather speak with someone that felt it than listen to someone judge and offer some positive affirmation

What I needed was to know that I was not so alone. I needed someone to give me the permission to free myself from this crazy thing I called my head because otherwise, I felt trapped.
In all honesty, my attempts (and I do pluralize the word attempt intentionally) were done in the interest to find freedom.

I just wanted the thoughts to stop spreading from one to another. I wanted the dread to stop. I wanted the feeling of impending doom to go away.
I want to talk to someone but I didn’t know how.
I didn’t know what to say; plus, the shame of it all kept me silent, and in moments like this, silence can be deadly.

I am sure every case has their own motivation; however, as unique as we all are, everyone relates.
Whenever I discuss suicide in my presentations, I notice a sea of heads nodding. In which case, I can literally spot those who feel the way I felt.

In one case, I ran a 15 minute presentation. I put it all out there. I said it all in just 15 minutes. No one expected the aftermath.
It was Friday, last block, which is the last period of the day, which is when the last bell rings and middle school hallways are filled with middle school kids, screaming to push through the double doors of the school and find their way out to meet the weekend.

I was given 15 minutes.
Truth is I was done in 10.
It took me over two hours to leave the school. It took me over two hours to speak with every kid, weeping with me, holding me, understanding me, and Thank God, they were happy to know they were not alone.

What I saw after this was nothing short of a miracle. I watched kids circle up and put arms over each other, making a pledge to live. I saw this with my own eyes and if I see nothing else, I can say that yes, I watched us overcome the odds that day.

Truth is age is not a factor. Suicidal ideation comes at any age. Even as young as 8. Trust me.

In my experience, what helps most is honesty. What helps most is not a directed conversation but an open one.
See, I lacked the words to tell you how I felt.
I lacked the ability to say what I wanted.

I lacked this partly because I didn’t have the language to explain myself. I lacked this partly because I was confused and I didn’t know where to begin and partly because I was afraid to open up.
I was afraid to let go of the pain (because what happens when the pain comes back?) and I was afraid to speak out, partly because of shame, partly because I thought this was all my fault, and partly because I though this was me, because there had to be something wrong with me, and partly because I never believed that I could heal, that hope was an enemy, that disappointment was a painful commonality between each of my days, and partly because I was just too tired of fighting back another day; I lacked the ability to know where to start because there was just way too much to say.

Truth is I just wanted to rest. I wanted to feel better. Eventually, the anxiety became too much that I saw no other way.
Even if this hurt others in my life, as bad as this might have been for them; as I saw it, they would eventually heal and been better off without me.

People say suicide is a selfish act. They say the pain does not stop it just transfers over to someone else.
But I have no time for little clichés or the quick, positive affirmations used with hopes to encourage people to choose life. In my case these things only made me feel worse. Instead, I am here to offer my thoughts because it seems to me there is a break in communication.

Consider a baby crying.
Why does a baby cry?
A baby cries because it lacks the ability to communicate. A baby cannot say where it hurts or if the baby feels scared. A baby cannot say whether it feels tired or hungry. Most times, we assume the problem. But we don’t really know. And we try to comfort the child but the child still cries.

My depression was like the baby crying out. I lacked the ability to communicate. I didn’t have the words to say what was wrong. All I had were the feelings, which grew too big for me to handle. So I chose to retire.
Although there were close calls along the way, my last attempt was in the summer of 1991. I woke up on the floor of a bathroom in a treatment facility. I tried to hang myself. . . .
It didn’t work.
There must be a reason why

I wished I had someone to talk to. I wish I had someone I could tell my thoughts. Especially the deeper ones, and not have them try to figure this out for me but instead; I wished I had someone that could lead me towards the freedom to speak openly and not be afraid.
I wanted to yell and scream. I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs. I wanted to punch the walls but this only hurt my hands. Eventually, it was hard because as much as I wanted to hit something, the pain I felt did not come with a face.
A cut or a bruise can be seen, which means it can be explained. Depression doesn’t come with a face; it only comes with a reflection in the mirror.

I just wanted to feel free.
Suicide, albeit desperate, is just a plea for freedom.

That’s why people jump . . .

However, many suicidal deaths are often accidental. For example, take someone driving off a cliff. There have been accounts of stories where in the last few yards before the car drove over, skid marks were left behind. This meant they wanted to change their mind.
But it was too late.

So before it is too late and for you (if this is you) before you make a decision, I want you to know that there is a way out. Although it might not seem believable; trust me, there is a way.

I get it.
You feel trapped.
I did too
I get it.
You just want to breathe
You want the weight to go away
You want the thoughts to stop (but they won’t)|
you want to wake up one morning and just feel normal . . .
I get it.

I make no promises but I do offer you this:
Imagine yourself this way. You wake up. Your eyes open and you have the energy to let your feet hit the floor. You can get out of bed instead of lay there and look up at the ceiling.
The sun is shining outside and the sunlight is moving through your window.
There is no weight on your shoulders. There are no worries. No pain. No fear. The need to hide or feel like you have to wear that disguise is gone.
You’re not afraid to walk out of your bedroom or go outside. You eat something. You have the energy to wash your face and brush your teeth.

You are about to go outside now. You have everything in your house exactly as you want it. Nothing is out of place and nothing is threatening you. You open the door to your world and you step outside.
The fresh air does you well and the sunlight is not this blinding thing.
Imagine yourself this way, ready to walk, and ready to live, ready to be, think, and ready to feel without restriction and without feeling like a prisoner.

You are free
This is you, so help me God.

This is us
This is all of us.
Sometimes, we just need help to see it

I know this because someone helped me.
and if you can’t find someone to help
call me . . .

I promise I will do what I can

2 thoughts on “Choose Life

  1. This is so powerful. Thank you for sharing! I especially love the baby metaphor, I’ve never found I have a good way to explain tats it’s not selfish.

  2. Very powerful. Those who judge those who end up taking their lives have no idea. Its wonderful work you are doing speaking to kids about this. Its such a necessary conversation. I so admire your ability now to find the words. ❤

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