This post is part of a Suicide Prevention Month blog series. Read the other blogs here.
“In the past, have you ever attempted to seriously hurt yourself?”
She means have I ever attempted suicide.
I wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans.
“Um, yeah. I’ve attempted,” I counted with my fingers in my lap. “…about, a handful of times.”
A handful. A neat five little fingers. I summed it all up to that.
What couldn’t fit into a handful was the nights on the cold linoleum tiles of my dorm room floor sobbing, imploding, tucking all my body parts into each other in hopes that if I became small enough, I could cease to exist.
What I couldn’t count with five fingers was the number of times the words “stupid”, “pathetic”, and “worthless” circulated through my mind every minute.
Now, I was being assessed by a psychologist at a psychiatric treatment center to determine my eligibility for admission.
I fought with myself for months over whether I was “sick enough” for inpatient treatment. I fought with myself for years over whether I was actually sick.
But for the first time, I found myself relentlessly and entirely fighting for myself. Fighting for help. Fighting for my life. I was tired of holding myself together, so I cracked myself open and poured everything out.
It was the first time I spoke the words out loud. Speaking up is what helped set me free.
Stigma is a strong force. It stuffs sufferers behind closed doors, alone and in the dark, until they feel like they don’t belong with others in the light. People are uncomfortable with things they don’t understand, so they feed into stigma, attaching lies to mental illness and suicide or not acknowledging it at all.
It isn’t easy to speak up about your pain. It might feel uncomfortable, wrong, terrifying – but it does get easier. Your voice is the most important instrument you’ve been given, and no matter how small or shaky or hoarse it feels, it is there so you can use it. For yourself. For others like you. We all need help sometimes; there is no reason to be ashamed of what you’re feeling.
You don’t have to fight this alone.
You are worthy of feeling better, no matter how far or how deep you’re coming from. The strength you possess is so much bigger than your pain and the tangled thoughts in your mind that tell you otherwise. You bring gifts to the world that you might not be aware of yet.
Your story is beautiful in a way that no one else’s will ever be. Give it a chance. Stay with us and keep on telling it.
Open the door. Reach Out. Speak up. I believe in you.