Monday, September 10, 2012

It's my life, and DAMMIT, if I'm going to live, I'm going to LIVE!

It's suicide prevention week.
I spent most of my life (29 out of my 33 years) feeling suicidal. "Suicidal Ideation" is what the professionals called it. Suicide sounded like a good idea. I dreamed of my death every single day. I prayed for it every single night. I hoped it would come, and on many days I planned for it. I attempted it once. I lived through it - in part because I immediately started throwing up. Apparently, although I didn't want to live, and didn't believe I deserved to live, my body decided something else. I also tried starving myself, and an addiction to exercise... somehow I survived those too. I'm pretty darn lucky.

I've sat here trying to think of what I would want someone like me to know. The only thing I can think of to say is, "LIVE!"

I wanted to die, because mostly, I felt like I was already dead. I was still breathing, but I wasn't living. I was doing what I thought other people wanted me to do. I was being who I thought other people wanted me to be. Looking back, I can say I barely even existed. That is no way to live... and something deep down inside of me knew it. That is the part of me that kept telling me to either LIVE or DIE. (I'm not a black and white thinker... at all.)

A while ago, I was talking to a friend. He was suicidal. He thought his death would end the craziness he felt, and he figured if he died, he wouldn't have to live with disappointing others. Since I had felt that so strongly myself, I had words that were helpful.

"You go through life trying to make everyone else happy. And then one day, you say, 'I can't live like this anymore!' What do you do? Do you end your life? Or is there another option? For me, at one point I just decided, it's my life, and if I'm going to live, DAMMIT I'm going to LIVE! It's my life, and I can't live it for anyone else anymore."

It sounds strange now... I thought I was selfish. I thought I was SUPPOSED to live my life for everyone else... In fact, that is one of the things that kept me alive for so long. I wasn't willing to put my sister through the hell of my death. I'm glad I had that bond with her, because it kept me alive long enough to find myself.  There came a point where even living for her wasn't enough to keep me breathing. There came a moment when I had to love myself enough to live for me.

I understand feeling sad. I understand feeling overwhelmed. I understand wanting out and away from all the hell. I also know what it feels like to find ME. I know how good life can be.

So, my advice is simple. Find a way to survive today, because tomorrow (or sometime in the future) will be worth living for. My life is nothing like I thought it "should" be, and everything that I want it to be.


  1. LOVE this. SO glad you found yourself, Jen. And thanks for posting this. Losing loved ones to suicide is tough. Loved reading this hope filled and uplifting post.

  2. Deciding to live, even when life seems like hell, is the first step to changing the hell around us. It took me a long time to learn that, and some days I still wish it wasn't so messy and painful to decide to live. Still, I do want to live, survive, and become the woman I want to be. I know it may take some time, but I am going to give myself that time. I am glad you decided that you deserve that time too!

    1. I like your first sentence... A lot. Accepting that THIS is my life, and THIS is how it is, makes it possible to deal with reality. Back when I kept trying to run from it, or pretend it was different than it was, it was impossible to change it. (If you won't acknowledge a change needs to be made, how can you make the change?)

      Somewhere along my journey, I had someone tell me once, "You deserve whatever it takes to heal your life." Don't we all deserve whatever it takes to heal?

  3. I thought you might like to read, and maybe share with your readers, my post for Suicide Prevention Week.

    1. Thank you for sharing that! It makes me very very sad, and I'm also very glad you're still here to tell your story.

    2. After I decided to live, then I realized I could live when and how I chose to, whether it was popular or not.

      That experience came after a hellish week with feelings skittering through the air to plop condemnation and hate, as it strikes and stains, like an emotional paint ball. I kept wanting to run away from the balls of judgment, shame, blame and hostility. The animosity that accompanied each direct hit buried the shooters and those who shot, in layers of smudged, grimy, stinky paint and deadly organisms. No one was leaving that fight without the imprint of contention on their forehead.

      Finally, it hit me. I had no vested interest in the fight. Sure, some were family and friends who I cared about, but this was their battle, not mine. They would keep shooting balls of pain, anger, jealousy and consternation, whether I was there to be hit, or not.

      Walking away from some of those relationships has been difficult. I miss the time in between battle rounds when we would remember that we had a few memories in common. What has not changed is the battle plans and tactics employed to make their worlds safe and homogenous. I may have moved myself out of firing range, but there are still balls that splat close enough that someone mentions it. I hear that newer targets have appeared and that the splatter of the paint still litters their lives.

      It makes me sad it is still happening to others, but it makes me glad that I can share my experiences, and occasionally inspire someone else to walk away from the firing range.

    3. I have a blog post that I have been working on for years that has the title "Not the Problem I Thought I Was". For a long time I thought people's mistreatment of me was somehow my fault, so I'd stay with them. If I was somehow nicer, kinder, softer, better, stronger, smarter, etc., then THEY would change their behavior.

      Then I stopped trying to change them, but still stayed in the relationship... Constantly telling myself I should like the way they treated me if I was a good person.

      At some point I realized that I didn't have to like their hurtful behavior. I couldn't change THEM, but I could change the situation. I didn't have to stay anywhere that didn't feel good to me.

      I was responsible for me, and my half of the abusive relationships, just not in the way I used to think.

  4. Thank you for talking about this - there is much of my own story in here as well.