Before I start, I have a request. To my parents and older children, please don’t read this, you don’t need to, and it is of no relevance to you. I am tackling this subject because I am hoping that it will strike a chord with a specific person. I feel that I would be out of line to contact her directly, I’m not even certain of her situation and don’t want to act on a possibly false assumption. My writing will not be up to scratch, I have limited computer time today and don’t want to delay sharing this through lengthly editing.
During the course of my life, I have attempted suicide twice. I want to tell you why I will never consider it to be an option again. You need to know that I’ve been there, it’s important that I don’t come across as preachy or distant. I do not suffer from depression as an illness. I can’t empathise if that is the place where you are coming from. I have however made many catastrophically cocked up bad choices. I have frequently found myself in circumstances which have seemed utterly hopeless. I am pleased to report that the last few years of my life have been devoid of real drama, proof that things do change.
My first suicide attempt was after being raped in my teens, I knew the boy / man and went on to date him. I felt sullied, I felt helpless and I quite simply did not want to live. Looking back I believe that I sensed then that I had taken the first step on a road which would take me to a future far from the one which I had dreamed for myself.
The second attempt was when one of my children was about 6 months old. The doctor who I saw afterwards, put it down to post natal depression. I was never convinced that this was the case. I need to stress here that my black feelings had nothing to do with my child / children. I was in a personal space which was very dark and I wanted out. At that moment in time, I wanted to die. At least 2 people who I know of were extremely critical of my suicide attempt in a callous way. They labeled me ‘crazy, selfish and irresponsible’. In turn I felt anger at their piously judgemental stance. They knew FA about where I was at. At that particular moment I had honestly believed that my children would be better off without me.
Now let me tell you why I will never try to kill myself again.
Nothing stays the same, EVER. No situation is static, we really never know what is around the corner. It sounds trite but it is true. I can’t begin to list the wonderful, beautiful and important things which have transpired in my life, things which I may never have experienced. I can’t tell you how peaceful and happy I am now. I would never have guessed the paths which would lead to my present. Oh yes! More bad stuff will happen. Bad stuff that we don’t see coming, but it WILL pass, and it WILL leave us stronger, and it WILL give us a deeper experience of our worlds.
I’m sorry to say it but our children need us, not a substitute ‘better parent’ , but very specifically us. Children of parents who commit suicide do not get past that loss. It scars them for life. I’ve seen a few instances first hand, and it is tragic to witness the black hole which swirls at their core, even when they have grown up. Sylvia Plath’s son committed suicide well into adulthood. He may still have done so if his mother had not set her famous example but what if she played a part in her son’s death? I could never take that chance, I don’t have that right.
Suicide is selfish. I don’t know why but despite imagining that I’m pretty cool, I really struggle to gain the perception that others see or admire my strengths. I can’t get my head around the fact that I matter to those outside my immediate family. I find it hard to believe that others even like me. On a rational level, I can’t explain this. I struggled to grasp that others value or need me. Logically I need to accept that even if I don’t feel it, I do have a place and a role in community and society. I am a cog in a larger wheel, and I need to embrace that. If I were to remove myself, I would start a domino effect and be responsible for a chain of negative emotions and events. I don’t have the right to do that.
You know who you are. If you are reading this PLEASE choose life. Choose it because you matter. Choose it because you are loved. Choose it because wonderful, unimaginable tomorrows await, and you have a leading role in them which no one else can fill. Choose life because through empathy, you will have the power to reach others when they are in a dark place. Choose life for your family, because no one can ever replace you and what you have to give them.
In today’s world, social media in particular presents the best side of our accquaintences. It is so easy to believe that everyone else has their shit together. It makes those who are struggling feel out in the cold. You are not alone, behind the veneer, no one is perfect. I wish that there was a drive to run a #myimperfect life awareness campaign, to reveal the chinks in our armour, our mistakes and our flaws.
You are not alone! I hardly know you, but you matter! I’m standing on the outside cheering you on. I want to see you cross the finish line. I’m waiting to see you triumph, if you choose to, you can and you will.