The month of September is Suicide Prevention Month. Sunday (10th) was Suicide Prevention Day. I was hoping to post this on Sunday, but I did not get it finished in time. As I have written in the past I have attempted suicide several times. If my blog post prevents one person from taking their life then writing it was worth it.
There are those in my life who do not like when I discuss the past like this, very raw and exposing my personal past and feelings at the time. I do not write to hurt them. I write to help others know it is ok to feel the way they are feeling and that they are not alone in the world. A few disclosures. I am not a doctor, these are my stories, these are my feelings, and these are my opinions.
While there are many more times that I have contemplated suicide, there are a few times I actually attempted but my guardian angel always stopped me from the very final step. When I look back at my life each time I was experiencing similar feelings each time. I felt no one in the world would miss me if I was no longer around. I felt very alone in life. I did not feel I had anyone I could talk to about what I was feeling or going through. To me at each of these points in life, death was the only answer that made sense. I know now that’s not true. As I’ve written before I will be honest with you about my life, I still have those thoughts once in a while. The difference now is I recognize when my mind goes to those thoughts. I immediately reach out to a friend or therapist to help get through it. I want to live so to me, suicide is not an option.
The first time I attempted suicide was in August of 1987. It was a couple weeks before heading off to college. 1987 was a rough year for me. All my life I had low self-esteem. In my teen years, I often was rejected from boys because I had a weight issue or just wasn’t pretty enough. Most of the time if a guy was interested in me it was so he could spend time with my sister who was (and still is) beautiful. I started dating a boy early that year, looking back on it, that was my first of many relationships that was mentally and emotionally abusive. He was the first boy that seemed interested in me and asked me out. I knew early on that he was the one in control of the relationship. But again, being I had no self-esteem and no one I felt I could confide in, I allowed him to treat me badly. As with most (not all) teenage boys, he wanted sex. I was not ready for that kind of relationship in my teens. A month before prom (I was set to go with him – and had my dress) he cheated on me with a friend. I was blind and didn’t know it was happening. Finally, one of my other friends told me what was going on. I went to the prom with him even after finding out because my parents spent $250 on a dress that I spent months walking and dieting to get into for prom. This was my first serious relationship and it hit me hard because of the betrayal from him and the friend. Of course, with my low self-esteem I immediately thought it was me, I figured I wasn’t pretty enough, I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t funny enough, I just wasn’t enough.
I was still hurting from the breakup when my Grandma ended up in the hospital and ended up passing away in May 1987. She passed away a few weeks before my high school graduation. I was very upset losing her. I had been helping my mom take care of Grandma. I was going to delay college or commute to the local community college to continue to help my mom. Grandma and I talked about it. I remember a few days before she ended up in the hospital we had a heart-to-heart talk. I told her I was going to look into classes at community college, she looked me in the eyes and said to wait. She said she wanted me to go to college and fulfill my dreams of someday being a CEO (we had talked about my love of business back then). It was as though she knew she would be leaving this earth when we talked. I remember whispering to her at her funeral that I would go to college and make her proud someday.
High school graduation was in June 1987. It was bitter sweet for me. I was glad to be done with high school because I was going to be going to college, but I was going to miss my friends even though things had been tense between my small group of friends because of the boyfriend thing. The friend who was now dating my ex was going to be rooming with my best friend in college. Which meant I was going to lose my best friend for a few years. I felt very alone during this time. It was during July when I really felt like I was very much alone in life. There were a lot of other things going on around me that were pushing me over the edge between my family and friends. I had no one to talk to or confide in. My feelings at this point were so distraught and alone. My mind kept going to “no one will miss me if I wasn’t here” or “this pain inside me will go away if I was dead.”
One August night I was sitting alone on the front porch of our house on the glider staring out the window. I went to the bathroom and grabbed whatever pills were the fullest and went back to the glider. I sat there for a while longer just asking for some kind of sign. I didn’t get it. I opened the bottle, poured out all the pills and put them in my mouth. Before I took a drink and swallow, I felt this shiver of cold air at my neck and shoulder. I heard my Grandmother’s voice in my ear saying “don’t do it, you can get through this, you will be on your own in a couple weeks, you know I love you.” I’m sorry if you don’t believe in guardian angels, but that night made me a full believer (and I have written about them in previous posts). I spit the pills out and even rinsed my mouth out with water.
I went to bed and never spoke of the incident to friends or family. A couple weeks later I went to college and started on a new path. However, my first year at college was not easy. Mostly due to the roommates I had and my shy / low self-esteem. My first roommate was awful. I was on the top bunk. Her and her boyfriend always had sex in the middle of the night. She was constantly coming in late, hungover and throwing up in the room. I could not study or do homework in my own room without disruption. I was constantly being bullied and picked on in my own room. I was able to convince the college to let me change roommates my second semester. That wasn’t much better because my roommate my second semester let people steal my stuff, I remember one time getting ready to go to a formal with my boyfriend (my ex-husband) and my roommate (and former roommate) thought it would be funny to hide my shoes and come in and harass and tease me and basically bring me to tears. It was before this incident (and before my ex) that I attempted suicide for the second time.
It was my second semester at college and I was totally stressed out. I was not the outgoing person I am today. I had very few friends and again I was feeling very alone. I had just gotten rejected by another man. This was the second one at college that rejected me. They both went for someone cuter and skinnier so of course that depressed me. I had no one I felt I could talk to about what was going on in my mind. There were nights I was sitting alone in my room just thinking no one would miss me if I was no longer on this earth. I had a bottle of pills for headaches (don’t want to mention the brand name) it was full and I again opened the bottle and put all that I could fit in my mouth. I remember swallowing one or two before my guardian angel appeared again to reassure me that things were going to get better. I remember her saying to me “you will get through this, you will be ok, stay strong, I love you.” That night I only ended up swallowing 4 in total before I got my mouth emptied.
My guardian angel was so right that things would get better. It was not long after that incident that I became good friends with one of the girls on my floor. She doesn’t realize how much she saved me by being my friend. We clicked and ended up the next couple years being roommates. Her boyfriend (now husband) introduced me to my ex. Even though I’m not married, my friend and her husband are still married and happy. They both were (and still are) saviors to me. That was a time in my life I did not think I would get through, yet my Guardian Angel said hold on because she knew these two were going to be important in my life and I just had to be patient.
Between August 1987 and August 1988, I had already attempted suicide twice and contemplated it many more times. I had also contemplated suicide in my younger years, including thinking about running away. Fast forward to the 1990’s. I was with my ex, we started dating February 1988. Again, I had a pattern (which I believe I am breaking) of being with men who fed on my low self-esteem. My ex was smart, arrogant, and knew what to say to me to make me feel bad. I took it because I did not know any different. At one point when we were dating in college, I was not doing well in my Economics class, he told me I should drop out of the university and go to a community college. I still married him. I look back and that should have been when I walked away. But unbeknownst to me, I still had a lot of other life lessons to learn from our relationship that has helped me become the person I am today.
We got married February 1992. Our marriage was not the best, we had some good moments, but I was married to a controlling, angry, arrogant person and I let him control me, I let him treat me the way he did, and I just learned when to pick my battles. I cried a lot during our 20-year marriage. He didn’t even know half the time when I cried because I did it in private. I had learned to keep emotions to myself and not to show crying. To some people who knew me in my past I’m sure I seemed cold and cold hearted, but that was all I knew. Yes, I cared, yes, I had feelings, I just didn’t show them often.
A few years into our marriage, I was feeling lost and alone. Again, I did not have anyone I could trust or felt comfortable confiding in or talking with about everything I was going through and definitely couldn’t talk about my feelings. The marriage was not going well, I decided to go to Atlanta for a long weekend and spend time with my cousin. I was again contemplating suicide because I was feeling there was no other out in this marriage and it had gotten bad. I’m not going to use this venue or post to bash my ex, just know it was not good. I was always close to my cousin, he was like a big brother to me, but I could not tell him why I was coming down and did not feel comfortable talking to him about things. Again, in our family we didn’t talk raw about things I was going through. I remember my cousin and his wife at the time, taking me to Stone Mountain. We climbed up to the top it was such a beautiful site. You could see so much from up there I just stared at the view. I was at the edge of the mountain and thought I could easily step off this mountain and it would be over. But I didn’t. Instead I decided to keep going and see what life had to offer me. I never told my cousin how close I was to jumping that day, he didn’t know anything was wrong. I had gone to visit him under the presumption I was studying to take the GMAT to go to graduate school. I was studying at the time, but that isn’t why I went down there. I needed to be there away from the bad to get perspective. It did help at that point.
Obviously since you know I was married for 20 years before leaving my ex, I did not leave him back then. We kept going for more years. Throughout the 20 years I had several other times when it got really bad that I contemplated suicide. One of the times I attempted suicide I was in my vehicle driving in a rainy night and just upset from treated like I was stupid for the millionth time, I started to turn into a cliff on the road I was driving just wanting to end the pain. I just sat there frozen for the longest time debating what to do. When I did get home, he wanted to know where I’d been. I just said I ended up talking to so and so in the parking lot before leaving work. Why didn’t I follow through this time, I was sitting in the car trying to think about everything that had transpired in my life including the prior times I attempted suicide and what stopped me those times. I remembered my guardian angel (my grandma) telling me to stay strong and I’d get through this the past times and she was right. But it also got me thinking about divorce.
While I did not initiate the divorce / leaving my ex in 2003, that is when I first started thinking about it. Something always scared me or stopped me. Remember, I still had very low self-esteem. I was ready to leave him in 2005, then I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I did not have the strength going through cancer to leave him. My cancer treatments lasted from October 2005 to the end of May 2006. I was very weak and had side effects that kept me from making a life altering decision such as divorce at the time. Once I had regained my strength his mother passed away and we had to move his dad to be near us because he couldn’t take care of himself. Because I married an only child, I could not leave him to do this alone (I am not the cold-blooded bitch that some would say or think).
In 2012, I had had enough. I had another incident that winter where I just wanted to be done with life. I was tired of crying to and from work (which most did not know about because I would sit in my car to calm down before going into work and I would stop somewhere to calm down about a mile or so before getting home). I was crying every day and it was making me miserable. I still felt like no one would understand and felt so much alone. I cannot tell you how much I felt alone. At this point I was working north of where we lived and the road I traveled had several icy spots in the winter. I was driving home one evening and crying in a snow storm from words I kept hearing repeated in my head “You’re not good enough.” I had slid on the road and was on another hillside cliff, the car had stopped and I was ok, but I looked around and realized this would be an opportunity to just end it. Who would care, my ex wouldn’t care, he would get a decent life insurance settlement, my family wouldn’t care (I had become distant because of my home situation), my friends wouldn’t miss me (again, distant because of my home situation). I sat there just thinking then like clockwork my guardian angel appeared again and this time she was stern with me and told me to basically stop being controlled, stop letting others knock you down, and be the strong woman I know you can be. It was hard to swallow, because I never really thought of myself as a strong woman, but she was right. I was not going to take the “easy way” out. It was that day that I started planning my exit strategy. I got my car back on the road went home and quit crying and just started fighting back and planning.
Think about life right now, if I would have taken the final step in any of these attempts I wouldn’t be here today. I know I have made an impact on a few people’s lives throughout my years. I hope to make even bigger impacts on lives over the next several years. When I was feeling alone and attempting suicide I could not envision what my future held for me because I just kept looking at what had happened. The thing about suicide is it’s permanent, there is no “do over” or coming back from it. Once you follow through that is all. You leave behind confused people in your life because you hid things so well. I know looking back on things, had I followed through my family and friends would not have known what triggered me because I hid it well.
These were thoughts going through my mind each time:
• “No one knows what I’m feeling”
• “I can’t take this abuse anymore”
• “I am so alone”
• “No one would miss me, no one cares”
• “No one would even show up at my funeral”
• “I have no out”
• “Life is hard”
• “Life sucks”
• “I am stupid”
• “I have absolutely no one to trust or talk to”
• “No one understands me”
• “I’m different”
I wish when I was growing up and when I was older that suicide was discussed more freely. I may have found someone who understood what I was feeling or going through and would listen and be there for me. I was not looking for someone to solve my problems I just wanted someone I could talk to without judgement.
I hear too much suicide occurring these days. It’s kids, parents, military, non-military, young, old, all races, sexual orientation, and religion. Suicide these days is not bias in who takes their lives and who is left behind.
Technology is great with its advances; however, it is also awful in how it allows people to harass, bully, torture, abuse, and stock others. They can even do it behind the “curtain” so it makes it even easier. When I was a kid, bullying was out in the open where you knew who it was and you got a break from it when you were not at school or home or wherever. Today, the bullying can be on social media and it can mushroom into multiple bullies or harassment just for being different or saying something incorrectly. There is a mask so more people hide behind the computer and torture others.
If I would be growing up today with all this technology I’m sure I would be bullied because I had speech impediment when I was growing up that I’m still self-conscious about today, I was overweight, and I was shy so people took that as being stuck-up. I’m sure I would be so depressed from the harassment and bullying that I would be thinking about suicide growing up in this world today.
Because it is hard to get away from technology sometimes the person being harassed/bullied/stocked/abused feels the only way out is suicide. We as a nation have to do better to protect others from feeling this way. We as society need to support people being able to talk freely and feel like themselves where they do not have to be masked in what they should be and let them be themselves.
I still do not feel like I fit in at times. I’ve just learned to deal with these feelings a little better and to recognize when I am getting to my danger zone of thinking. It’s not easy in today’s world to be yourself and feel safe.
I don’t have all the answers. As I said in my disclosure, these are my stories and my opinions. At this point you may be asking “How can we stop suicides?”
If you are the one doing the bullying, harassing, abusing, or stocking – STOP IMMEDIATELY. Get some professional help to see why you feel like you need to be doing this to someone. Apologize to the person you are doing it to and be an advocate to prevent others from doing it.
For those who are being bullied, harassed, abused or stocked, and you feel like there is no one else who understands what you are going through and you feel there is no other option, please know right now you are not alone and there are others who can help you and know what you are going through. When you have a choice between life or death, always pick life. You are here on this earth for a reason and I’m here to tell you that you matter. If you have suicidal thoughts, please do not act on it, call a suicide hotline (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255), a professional therapist, or if you have someone in your life you can trust, talk to them. Reach out to someone, even on my blog or Facebook page. Trust me you are not alone.
If you feel someone you know (or don’t know) is suicidal, talk to them, listen to what they are saying. You can also call the suicide hotline to get some help in the situation. Just by asking someone if they are suicidal or just asking them how they are in general could save a life. Just listening to someone could save a life.
Don’t be a bystander and watch someone get bullied, harassed, abused, or stocked. If you are afraid to stop it, let someone know that can stop it before it goes too far. Throughout my life I wish someone would have been there to tell me what they were seeing and not stop when I tried to deny it. I did have some tell me, but I kept denying it and they gave up trying to tell me. You will be hit with denial from the person it is happening to because they are afraid. Don’t give up on someone. They will thank you.
Don’t be afraid to tell your story. You never know when your story will help prevent someone from suicide. Talking about suicide, feelings or life in general should not be squelched. Listening is a gift that you can give to someone that does not cost anything but your time.
I am glad I did not take my own life all those times. I am glad I am here to tell my stories and hopefully I will help someone choose life.
Please note, I love my family and looking back on my life as I write this, I am sure I could have gone to a family member. But my feelings when I was going through these things were that I could not go to anyone. They were my feelings at that time in my life. When you are helping someone do not belittle their feelings because that will cause more harm to them.
Talk to each other you never know when you’ll save a life. #suicideprevention #savealife #happytobealive #listen #stopsuicide