Every thirteen minutes another person makes the horrifying decision to end their life in the United States.(1) That’s one too many; imagine how many precious lives could be saved if they could see themselves through the eyes of the people who love and care for them.
Suicide is something I am all too familiar with. In honor of Suicide Prevention Week, I would like to share a bit of my story.
I am now thirty years old; thankfully I am able to see life on the other side of that seemingly endless tunnel of despair. But life wasn’t always like this, no, in fact, for most of it, I struggled with the after-effects of sexual, physical and emotional abuse, a seventeen year eating disorder, alcoholism, depression and stints of heavy drug use. On the outside, I seemed like I had everything together, but on the inside and to a close few who really got to know me, I was desperate to die.
Thoughts of death began to creep in around my early teens, when my mother attempted suicide twice. When other kids my age were just beginning to blossom at school and make friends, I was living in a nightmare, visiting Mom at the mental ward. Visions of her bandaged arms haunted me for most of my adult life, although they were detached somehow; I buried them in a deep place. After all, mothers weren’t supposed to be the ones who needed care.
I internalized the clouded feelings. If Mom wanted to die…I wanted to, too. What was my identity? How was it being formed? My mental state deteriorated at a time when it should have been growing. I was angry and began to dabble in my own forms of self-harm and ultimately, turned towards sharp objects for relief. I needed something to release the intense misery that I felt inside.
At eighteen I was married, although it was brief. I was looking to get away from my family, and move as far away from home as I possibly could. I looked for anyone and anything to cure the loneliness and painful memories that kept resurfacing from my childhood. My eating disorder was worse than ever; I binged and purged multiple times a day. When that couldn’t numb me anymore, I reached for a full bottle of ephedrine and swallowed it whole. The world became dark and I collapsed. Thankfully, my husband at the time came home and found me, my sweaty body convulsing on the floor. I was angry. “How could he do this to me?” I thought. “How could he let me live?”
I continued to struggle with thoughts of suicide, especially when I was recovering from anorexia. Many people are not aware how many deaths are due to suicide from those suffering from eating disorders, but I teetered on the brink for far too long.(2) I was blinded as to my worth; years of trauma had led me to believe that I was not good enough. Throughout years of recovery, however, I am grateful to say that not only am I alive and thriving, but I am able to help others see their value as well. Our darkest times truly can serve as our most valuable lessons.
My mom was not so lucky. Only a couple of months before her death she was in rehab, trying to get her life together. However, she kept talking about how she wanted to die. And she did…she created that life. It was the hardest reality for me to face. My life will turn into the way I want it to. I choose life, today and always. What do you choose?
If you or someone you love is contemplating suicide, please call 1.800.273.8255 Just talk, to anyone. Whether you know it or not, there are so many people who love you.
Visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to learn more about suicide and ways to get involved in your area
To learn more about eating disorders, check out the National Eating Disorders Association.