Suicide: the Struggle, the Truth, the Light.

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I was staring at the note I had just written, quickly scribbled on a notebook I had found in the bathroom.

I’m a writer and my husband continually teases me that even my short emails to him are written in a way that flows. Yet this letter, the last letter I would write, was none of that—it was bland. It said only that I could no longer deal with the darkness, that it wasn’t their fault, and that I was sorry.

I left that letter—my suicide letter—on the floor of the bathroom. Then I stepped onto the edge of our tub…

My last memory was of my breath becoming shorter and my vision blurring out.

I woke up, not dead. My husband, having heard a thud from the shampoo bottles falling to the floor, had managed to get into the bathroom, lowered my unconscious body to the floor, and sat with me until my eyes opened.

I remember feeling a sense of relief—relief that I was still here, that I was alive. But I also felt a heaviness because my life was still dark. I couldn’t find the light and I didn’t know how to live in this world any longer.

I was going to therapy. I was on antidepressants. Yet still, I had tried to take my life.

Suicide is often seen as a selfish choice. How can someone take their life, leaving behind people who love them? I can remember judging other parents who had chosen suicide—didn’t they know the pain they were leaving their children with?

Well I’m a mother and I love my children more than life itself. I would never intentionally hurt them, but I did tried to kill myself.

In that moment, for me, suicide wasn’t a choice. I was drowning in darkness, unable to tread water any longer. I didn’t want my children to remember a mother who could no longer smile, a mother who couldn’t get out of bed. I felt as though I was a burden to my family, that I was hurting them with my depression, with my darkness. The depression had convinced me that my life was no longer worth living; it had whispered in my ear that the only right thing to do—the only thing that would prove my love to my family—was to kill myself.

Suicide is a word that as a society we don’t speak of often, unless a celebrity dies from it. When Robin Williams died, we sobbed, unable to understand how a man so gifted, so funny, had felt so dark, so alone. For weeks, we spoke of the need to be more open about depression, the suicide hotline was shared everywhere, and then it faded. There was a new news cycle, a new story.

A few weeks ago, both Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade died by suicide, within a few days of each other. In the following days, we were bombarded by posts about depression. Then, like every time before, it faded. We will see these kind of stories again, when another well-known person dies this way, and we will react with shock and sadness, we will judge, we will wonder what made them chose that path, and then it will vanish again into the background. 

I understand it. In fact, I was that person—the one who judged, who wondered, who couldn’t understand how someone could do that—until it happened to me.

Depression is the mute button on our lives; it distorts our truth, convincing us we are nothing but a burden. Depression takes away our hopes, our dreams, our smile, and our laughter. Yet most people stricken with depression are masters of the art of deception.

I hid behind a smile and learned to mask a pain I could not understand. I laughed for my family and friends, when in reality I was crying inside, dying inside. For the longest time, I didn’t talk about my depression because I couldn’t stand the shame. I had grown up in a society that blamed those who died by suicide. So I stayed silent, I struggled alone—not because I wasn’t loved, not because I didn’t have a support system, but because I was ashamed.

The shame is what we need to end. We need to speak honestly about depression, and not just when a celebrity dies, but always.

We need to educate ourselves and those we love. Depression isn’t a choice, and suicide isn’t a conscious choice—because it’s not one made with a clear head. Suicide is a moment: a moment when the darkness was too great, a moment when the depression was too convincing, a moment when we believed we were the problem, the burden.

We aren’t depression, and we aren’t the choices made during those moments of darkness. We are people, flawed and struggling, yet just like you. Depression isn’t biased—it doesn’t care about our jobs, our families, our lives. It can chose the wealthiest of us and the happiest of us, and try to steal all we have and all we are.

But I believe we can be greater than depression. I believe we can beat suicide, but only if we as a whole start openly talking about our struggles. We need to stop living our lives through Instagram filters and finally realize that our lives are enough. The good, the bad—all of it is worth it. Because life isn’t measured by likes and clicks; life is measured in breaths.

In that last first kiss.
In the laughter shared between friends.
In your child’s first step.
In the little moments—the walks in the sunshine and dances in the rain.
In the big moments—the weddings, births, and unforgettable trips.

Life is worth every moment, every tear, every heartache, so when you feel as though you can’t go on, fight that urge. Call a friend, the suicide prevention hotline, or go to a hospital. Do whatever you can to silence the depression, because it is lying to you when it says life isn’t worth it.

Let yourself feel the darkness, but don’t live there. Instead, cherish the moments that are light and love.

Let yourself cry, but do so knowing that life will go on and laughter will come again.

Most of all, be honest. Tell your circle, your family, your world that you are hurting—do not hide in a shame that isn’t yours. Say it out loud: “I’m depressed and sometimes I think about not wanting to live.” Take the power away from your depression.

In your darkest moments, choose the light—however small—and believe that it will get better. You will get better.

~

author: Michele Genzardi

Image: Author's own

Editor: Nicole Cameron

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Michele Genzardi

Michele Genzardi is a writer and speaker. Words have always been her solace, her writing echoes those of Strayed. She draws you into her world with each word painting a picture of that moment in time, that feeling. She is authentic and vulnerable in her writing allowing readers to see her heart, her life, her true self.

Whether she is taking you through the deserts of the Sahara or camping in the mountains of Carolina be prepared to be transported into her world.

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Dave Phillps Sep 11, 2018 9:19am

well said!

Himani Pande Sep 8, 2018 8:20am

Lost my brother that way. Remembered him all through this medicinal article. Maybe he too felt he would be shamed if he would speak of his inner turmoil. All our love couldnt bring him back. He laughed for us, he laughed with us when he was disintegrating inside. Beautiful article.

Michele Genzardi Aug 23, 2018 8:47pm

Thank you, Robin. I am truly humbled. I am honored that my words resonated with you.

Michele Genzardi Aug 23, 2018 8:46pm

Thank you for reading

Michele Genzardi Aug 23, 2018 8:46pm

It is!! Depression sucks and so many people don't get it, or they just want us to be happy. There is power in owning your feelings, in saying I am not okay. Talk, talk with friends, support groups, anyone. Just don't let depression be your mute button.

Michele Genzardi Aug 23, 2018 8:45pm

Thank you! Yes, I think so many see it as this selfish choice, but it's truly one made in the worst moments of pain.

Michele Genzardi Aug 23, 2018 8:44pm

I am so sorry for your loss, I hope my words could help shine some light inot how she was feeling. sending you love

Michele Genzardi Aug 23, 2018 8:43pm

Thank you for reading!

Robin Thorne Aug 21, 2018 6:31pm

This is the best definition/explanation of depression and suicide (reason why) I have ever read. Thank you for sharing.

Anneke Bollen Aug 16, 2018 8:52am

Thank you, love your honesty and heartfulness

Anna Hensley Aug 16, 2018 5:32am

Thank you for sharing your truth... depression is SO painful

Gail Knight Aug 16, 2018 12:57am

Such a difficult topic, many hide & wont talk about it. Great to see it shared!!

Kathryn Griffin Aug 15, 2018 6:35pm

Michelle, thank you for your insightful and brutally honest words. You are courageous in sharing your experience. You are so right that depression doesn't care about our families or jobs or our lives. It doesn't care about social or financial status or if you are in the prime of your life and have everything you could ever want. Depression is the worst of the worst of joy stealing thieves. Talking and being honest really does take power away from depression, but I find the majority of people are unequipped and unable to handle the pain and darkness that needs to be expressed to drive away the shame. It seems it becomes “acceptable” to talk about suicide only after the fact. The feeling of wanting to end your life is a pain that is incomprehensible, and if a loved one is suicidal, the feeling of helplessness is excruciating. I see it every day on the faces of those I love and I will myself to be content in taking life moment by moment. I know now that suicide is not at all a selfish act, but one steeped in the blackest, darkest pain.

Sabrina Dinucci Aug 15, 2018 9:05am

Thank you for sharing your story with us. Having just lost my beautiful sister to suicide - I am grateful to have entered your mind for a few minutes. Sending you love and light.

Debi A. Meier Aug 15, 2018 5:58am

very powerful, thank you for sharing

Michele Genzardi Aug 15, 2018 2:05am

Hi Kathleen, No need to apologize, I understand difficult days and I’ve been there and am still there on some days. For me writing has always been form of therapy, even before it became what I did as a living...... it’s just where I found my release. Other people use painting, or crafts for me it’s words, they flow from me usually when I’m in my darkest of places. I’m sorry that you haven’t felt the support you deserve, unfortunately our society is still so uneducated about depression and suicide. I hope you are doing better and I’m thinking of you.

Kathleen Ehmsen Aug 14, 2018 10:14pm

May I ask why you decided to share I believe it was your recent experience with suicide? I guess I am asking as you are a writer. And usually when in those dark moments and in times before and after, it seems difficult to express oneself. I have strugged with suicide thoughts and attempts since a teenager. And I am now a Senior. Unfortunately people are not as supportive and caring as I had hoped through the years. I have been unable to share as people have voiced their opinions about mental illness. There seems to be so much negativity around the subject. I even went to a walk for out of the darkness last year. Everyone was in their groups. I walked by myself. I am happy because I am finally comfortable talking to others. Not one approached me. Most times when shared with family and friends, my experiences have not been what I needed. Even with records to hospital stays, hospital staff, ambulance staff, etc. I have had continued therapy, medications that I have always taken, even group therapy and after hospitalization programs. I apologize for being negative. I am trying to pick myself up after a very difficult 4-5 days. I do hope our world keeps developing into a more accepting, caring, taking an extra few more minutes to listen to another person kind of place. And maybe even going an extra yard to follow up with that individual.

Nancy Winters Aug 14, 2018 9:40pm

Michele Genzardi A friend and fellow survivor once likened talking about suicide to "Dropping a turd in the punch bowl." I say, we need to change the punch. Openess can be so healing for suicide survivors....like you and me.

Michele Genzardi Aug 14, 2018 9:38pm

I am so sorry Miranda, the pain you must be enduring is heartwrenching. I grieve for you and your childern. I hope you are able to show them the good parts of their father, so they are able to understand he didn't chose to leave them. I keep rereading your comment, my heart cracked open for you and your family. I pray you are able to find peace amongst the pain. Sending love

Michele Genzardi Aug 14, 2018 9:35pm

Anne trust me it's a daily struggle, I'm in intesive threapy, on medication and really each day is a battle.... so trust me when I say I am in the same awful trenches. Happiness isn't a daily thing, sometimes it's just a moment. A glimmer of life could be and I hold tight to that glimmer, knowing it's worth it. Please hold on, I know it's dark and you feel alone but you aren't you are so loved

Michele Genzardi Aug 14, 2018 9:33pm

You are here because lfe is worth it, and you are worth it. You are here because you are the only you this world gets. I know the sturggle, I 've been there but please don't give up.

Michele Genzardi Aug 14, 2018 9:32pm

I couldn't imagine Nancy, yet if my husbnd hadn't found me in time I would of left three kids without their mother. Unforunately it's still so misunderstoood and shrouded in shame..... I'm hoping we can talk more openly. I love the key statement!!

Michele Genzardi Aug 14, 2018 9:30pm

I agree, being this open has caused me to lose friends yet the ones that are geniune remained. I think sometimes we forget that life doesn't have a filter, that instagram is just the perfected 1% of a persons life. I hope you are getting help Kristin and know how important you are in this life

Michele Genzardi Aug 14, 2018 9:29pm

Thank you!

Michele Genzardi Aug 14, 2018 9:28pm

I am so truly sorry for your pain Patty, My heart breaks reading your story. I am so happy that you have that last interaction that was love... I'm grateful that you are able to see that it was one moment, an instant. I'm sending all the love I can to you right now.