*Possible trigger warning as this topic is suicide. Please be aware.*
I strongly believe that the topic of suicide is still so stigmatized and taboo that it stays in the dark leaving no safe place for discussion and understanding. The only way to break this cycle of mouths closed is to open wide and share our stories. Stories of personal struggle. Stories of loss. Stories of why we felt how we did and how much that can swallow a person whole. We need to talk and share and make a safe place so that those thinking suicide is the only way out, those souls can maybe talk to someone confide those darkest emotions and change their thinking. We need that safe place…. after all the statistics show: Every year, almost one million people die from suicide; a “global” mortality rate of 16 per 100,000, or one death every 40 seconds. Worldwide, suicide ranks among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15 – 44 years. Suicide accounts for more loss of life in the world than the total number of deaths from war, acts of terrorism and homicide combined!
So here I share my personal relationship with suicide in hopes of encouraging others to do the same. It’s hard. But it’s necessary.
My first suicide attempt was 14 years old. I was in junior high, fairly popular and seemingly happy. Yet I was the furthest thing from. I had been suffering physical and emotional abuse for years from my mothers then boyfriend. It started around 8 years old and got worse with every year that passed. By age 14 I was tired and alone and broken down. I had cried out for help to anyone I thought could (including a police officer) but there was never anyone that believed me. Never help to be found.
I tried to never be home, I slept at friends houses as much as I could. I was just done being so alone. I was always in such fear. If someone yelled I cried I thought I was going to be hit. It’s like a wounded animal. I had nobody and nowhere. So one night he was gone and my mom was at work I went to the medicine cabinet and I took the first bottle I found and I swallowed all the pills. I remember hand full after hand full and trying to drink the water… it was so hard. Yet I kept going till none were left. Then I sauntered downstairs made a phone call to a friend declared my plan to die (she had no idea I’d already taken the pills), listened to her try to talk me out of it. “You’re so loved, you’ll be missed, you have so much to live for.” These words meant nothing, I was numb. I didn’t believe these words. I was worthless, nobody was helping me so how could anyone love me. I was a punching bag. I was better gone, no pain, no more tears. I hung up and went and sat in my living room on the couch and stared at a blank TV screen. I was ready.
A knock on the door and a family friend learning from my brother (whom was home and only a year younger than myself) what I had done I was rushed to emergency. I remember begging the nurse to just let me die. I was better off, my family was better off. Still not being listened to I was pumped full of sticky nasty black charcoal. Spent the night vomiting and begging not to go home. Please DO NOT let him take me home. Again nobody listened and I was released into my moms care, where her boyfriend threw me in his car and drove me straight to school. Yup, you heard me to school. I went in the front barely and when I saw his car was gone I went and sat on a hill outside. Crying. Broken. Alone.
Attempt two I was eighteen, just had a baby boy. My beautiful baby boy, the love I had always wanted I finally had and could give. He was only 6 months old, I loved him more than anything. But I was a single mom, the guy I “loved” was nowhere and made it pretty clear I was doing this parent thing solo, I was a damaged soul already. Quick tempered and easily emotional. My pregnancy had been so hard I was so sick, I was hospitalized and on medication the whole time. I was working and living on my own with my parents helping as much as they could. But I was alone. I felt so alone. I was a teenager how could I be a mom. A good one anyway. I was overwhelmed I lost so many friends; I was so depressed.
One of the nights my parents took him to give me a “break” I stayed in my apartment with some friends and drank. Drank a lot…. everyone eventually cleared out and alone I sat drunk in my son’s room on the floor by his crib crying uncontrollably. All the thoughts rushing in “He’s better off without me!” “I’ve always been a failure.” “What if I hit him the way I was hit?” “What if I can’t do this?” “I’m just going to be a lonely failure and I’m going to screw him up!” So much worthlessness I felt, so much self-loathing and hopelessness. I just knew it would all be better for him without me. Again I found myself at the medicine cabinet swallowing a bottle of pills! This time no knock on my door. No rush to emergency. I fell asleep on the floor of my son’s room expecting to never wake again! I did wake up though the next morning, massive headache and a sadness I had even thought of leaving my baby. I still can’t believe I woke up that next morning.
Six months ago my depression was at a low I had never reached before. I had been on lithium for a diagnosis of bipolar and the medications weren’t working. I was stressed and found myself in that space, that dark hopeless place. The constant thoughts of “your’re not good enough. You just keep failing. You have no friends nobody loves you. Everyone turns on you and leaves you. You’re disgusting. You’re empty and ruined.” All those thoughts, never stopping. So loud and echoing. This time I did what I hadn’t done before. I talked to a friend and my husband. They encouraged me to go get help. It took A LOT of prompting but I entered that emergency room full of anxiety and sadness. However, I left that emergency room (after a LONG and repetitive stay) with a new diagnosis, one that made way more sense (Borderline personality disorder) and an action plan for therapy and help! Finally, help!
My reality with suicide is it’s an overwhelming wanting to make my pain disappear and others at the same time. I know that doesn’t make sense. But the idea of not existing means no pain, no hurt. Every time I’ve felt that hopeless urge to just not be. I’ve never taken anyone’s thoughts or feelings into consideration. I’ve never thought what will they think, how will they feel. NOT in that moment. I’ve just known with me gone it would mean everyone’s world is better. It’s a foggy, self-centered thought process. But my intentions in those moments weren’t to hurt anyone not even myself I just wanted the pain to stop. All my pain to stop.
I am able enough to now be more self-aware and recognize when I’m feeling this way. And believe me, I feel it more often than not even still. (Suicide is a significant risk for individuals with some mental illnesses, such as borderline personality disorder. )The difference is I will ask for help now. I will try my hardest to NOT let that feeling take me over! It’s a never-ending fight. I’m just a more prepared warrior. Or I hope I am.
I’ve sadly lost loved ones to this fight. Their stories so much like my Own. Keep the conversation open. Share your stories, it’s how we will create a safe place.
About Jennifer Hope
I am a wife and mother of 3 that has battled mental illness my whole life. With a recent diagnosis of Borderline Personality disorder I am writing and talking about what it means to live with mental illness and specifically my own and to be diagnosed (finally) later life.