This is not a blog I write lightly. I want to warn people who are feeling hopeless or depressed to be cautious before reading any farther.
A little over 10 years ago, I made a decision to end my life. I didn’t leave a note because I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I couldn’t conceptualize saying goodbye to anyone without them feeling guilty about not knowing. I didn’t want to cause anyone any more pain.
Hindsight is a beast because what looked so confusing and overwhelming in the moment appears so clearly now. This example is no different. When I made the decision to end my life, it was not a decision I made easily. I was struggling with health issues and the doctors couldn’t get my heart to regulate properly. I couldn’t get the depression and anxiety that I struggled with at that time under control at all. I had lost hope entirely. I was exhausted from the battle of self-hatred that I had been engaging in. I had bought a house that I couldn’t afford in any realm. I had graduated with my Master’s Degree but all of my hopes, dreams and desires seemed so far away. I had lost my passion and drive. I had been doing therapy for decades and I just couldn’t see any improvement. I had been sober for nine years and I couldn’t find any happiness or joy in my life.
I vividly remember making the decision to end my life. My entire house was immaculate, because I didn’t want anyone else to have to clean up after I was gone. I took all 29 of the pills designed to stop my heart and poured them into my hand. As I popped them into my mouth, I said out loud, “Ready or not God, here I come”. And I went to go to sleep on my couch.
When I woke up the next morning, it was 6:12 a.m. on a Friday morning and I was livid! My instant thoughts were, “Are you kidding me!? I can’t even get this right?” In that moment I grabbed a book and went to my garage. I shut the garage door and started the car. The next thing I was consciously aware of was hearing one of my best friends calling my name. I won’t go into all of the crazy details except to tell you that when she found my lying on the garage floor, it was nearly 8 p.m. on Sunday night.
I share this story because I know I’m not the only one out there who has survived a suicide attempt. I also share this story because it currently holds no power over me! I have been freed from the shame attached to this experience. It was a huge learning process for me.
Since that time, I have found holistic ways to alleviate the anxiety and depression I previously experienced. I have also come to terms with my physical body and the health issues my body struggles with.
While this process was not fun and I have received ‘concerns’ from other professionals for sharing, I do so with the intent that my transparency is able to help someone else. Following are the lessons I learned as a result of the attempt to end my life:
1. Every life matters: As trite as I am sure this sounds to some people, it really is accurate. I had no awareness of how many lives I had touched, or how many people would be impacted by my death. The five subsequent weeks I spent in the hospital sent me a very clear message that the world would not have been “better off without me”.
2. Nothing is permanent: I have, at times in my life, suffered from “Foreverism”. It’s a term designed to describe when you are convinced your feelings or a situation will be like that forever. In reality, nothing is permanent and therefore nothing is forever. No experiences, no situations and no interactions will remain the same forever. As long as people are growing, things are changing.
3. Life is finite: As a result of the population I have worked with much of my life, I have seen families devastated by someone’s decision, which ended much differently than mine. Every time I meet a new family impacted by someone else’s decision to end their life, I grieve with them. I also wish that I could have helped their loved one through the process.
4. Hope is eternal: As long as I am breathing, living hope exists. Hope is typically a matter of perspective. While I couldn’t see any hope remaining on that August day 10 years ago, it was there, lurking, waiting for me to reclaim it. The thing with hope is that many times it takes action in order to reclaim it.
5. I am enough: I had previously spent a lot of time beating myself up for not being “_____” enough. As a result of this incident—seeing how many people’s lives I had impacted, as well as having survived such a massive attempt—I became very aware that I am enough just as I am right here and right now. Don’t get me wrong: I’m still growing and changing. However, my worth is not dependent on anything external.
6. People care: When I made the decision to end things, I wasn’t able to ask for help. I also couldn’t have listed on one hand the amount of people who cared. I was wrong! I was absolutely wrong! I’m a very caring and loving person and would help anyone if I was capable. And I’m not the only one out there who cares. I am not alone!
7. I have a future: In that moment in time, I didn’t perceive that I had any future at all. I was so stuck in “Foreverism” that I couldn’t see beyond the debt I was in, or the relationship I wasn’t in, or the house I couldn’t afford. Every single one of us has a future that holds tremendous possibility!
8. Healing is possible: In my long ago past, I didn’t think I could ever escape my depression or anxiety. I didn’t think I could function like a normal, healthy and happy adult. I feel the need to point out that my depression was not a result of any of the following things: too much sin, too little prayer, not enough faith. I remain unbelievably grateful that I found my path to healing and hope.
9. Others’ judgement is out of my control: I have resisted posting this blog for a long time. There’s so much stigma out there for people who have mental health issues. And there is even more stigma for people who have attempted suicide. At this point in my life, I can’t be concerned or fearful about what other people will think, feel, worry or say about me. What other people think or say about me is none of my business. In that, I have found huge freedom. I have tremendous amounts of love in my life and unbelievable support as well.
If you have lost a loved one to suicide, I want to apologize for the harm that you have experienced. I can’t even begin to imagine the grief and loss that you are experiencing. I want to honor your feelings and your experiences. If you are a person who has or is considering ending their life: Please get help now! There is hope for you!
Author: Jenn Bovee
Editor: Caroline Beaton