Suicide & Mental Illness
A MOMENT OF HOPELESSnESS...
Asking for help has never come easily for me, but it is the best decision I have made in my 22 years of life.
My experience is far from simple, but a history of trauma had led me to a place where I did not think I could ever be okay again. I didn’t know how to make it through the day, and each sunrise brought a dull sense of dread that ached to my core. There were days when I didn’t know how to make it to bedtime. There were days when the pain was so debilitating and the hurt so indescribable that it was way beyond what I knew how to cope with. Surrounding myself with friends had never felt so lonely and it was frustrating and exhausting to pretend to be okay. Every day I prayed and I hoped that tomorrow would be better, and honestly, for a while it never was. I was so tired of the fight that it took just to get through the day. I hated myself; I hated my life; I decided one day that I was done.
I had every intention to kill myself, but in the midst of an attempt, something inside me changed.
I was lucky enough to know Dalton; to experience his friendship, and the joy, laughter and kindness he spread to all around him. This made his death all the more tragic, shocking, and unbearably difficult. It was an experience I was so unprepared and unequipped to handle; it was a hurt that I will never forget. But as hard as it is to say it, it is a hurt that I am grateful for, because it is a hurt that saved my life.
When I was moments away from taking my life, I could think of nothing but Dalton, and to be honest, I was mad at him. I thought, “Dalton, get out of my head and let me do this.” I thought that no one understood what I was going through, that no one could imagine the pain. I truly believed I was worthless, that everyone would be just fine without me. I was not thinking about the people in my life who loved me, and who would be devastated if I were gone. But I still could not shake Dalton out of my mind. I remembered how much his death hurt me, and how devastatingly life-changing it was to so many. I realized the permanency of my decision and I told myself, “Maybe I’ll just give it one more day.” And I stopped my suicide attempt.
No one talks about suicide. Even after Dalton’s death, the atmosphere, both in school and at my home, felt unsafe to talk about what had just happened. It unintentionally put a shameful label on the topic. This made the words, “I need help” the hardest words I have ever had to say. I just remembered how much I wished Dalton had asked for help. And I remembered how I would have thought nothing less of him if he had. Dalton gave me a lifesaving ounce of hope during the most hopeless moment of my life.
I am not exaggerating when I say it took everything inside of me to make the first phone call for help. And for a while, I could not even say out loud what I was going through. I was scared to hear myself say it, I was scared what people would think of me, I was scared I would have to be locked away in a hospital. For a long time, I was ashamed; I was embarrassed; I thought there was something wrong with me.
But the best thing someone told me was that, it is okay to not be okay. It is okay to ask for help. It is not a weakness, and I know this because it truly took every amount of strength I had for me to do so.
I couldn’t understand suicide until I had been to that place. I know the hopeless, unbearable pain that makes it feel impossible to live another day. I am all too familiar with the feelings of worthlessness, shame, embarrassment, and hate. For a very long time, I did not believe anyone who told me it would get better. I thought they were wrong when I was told time, and time again, that I was worth it; that I had so much to live for.
But I realized that I didn’t want to die, I wanted the pain to stop. And it did get better. I promise. I wrote down all the things that I wanted to do in my life, all the things I had to look forward to, all the things I am grateful for (even if some days it is just a hot cup of coffee). I still look at my list and I think about how much I could miss out on if I weren’t here. I learned to lean on my friends, and reach out to professionals. I learned to use my anger as a fueling spark to stand up for myself and what I believe in; to regain my voice. I learned that I was worth fighting for.
Everyone’s story is different, everyone has a different path that has led them to a state of debilitating pain, in which death seems like the only way out. I’ve been there. And I’ve believed it. But suicide is never the answer. No matter how hard it may be to find, there is always a reason to live. I didn’t find help in my family, not even much from my friends. But I found it. And it is okay to need it. There is no shame in hurting. There is no shame in asking for help. It is okay to not be okay.
-Signed, A Classmate & Friend to Dalton