A warning: This page is now quite long.
This space is for stories from those of you who write in with your experience and say you’d like to share it publicly. Some people choose to share their names as well, but it’s not required here. Each separate story begins in bold.
Christine: Comment: I wrote this several months ago, when I was in one of the darkest places I have ever been in my life. Since then, I have alternately felt compelled to do my part in attempting to de-stigmatize and then embarrassed, ashamed and self-judging, so I have kept it hidden. The last thing I want is for this illness to be my legacy. I don’t want the first thing people think when they see me is that I am the lady with mental issues. Or worse, judging my kids based on the disease. But this is why it is all the more important to “talk” about it. Like any other disease, this is treatable but can also be fatal. Thanks to a friend (who literally saved my life) and an inner circle of trusted family and friends, I was able to realize I was sick, not unlike someone with diabetes or cancer, and have been able to find the right treatment for me. It is not just the people you see sleeping under bridges or the monsters in your nightmares that have these issues, but it is people that you see every day trying to be good parents and successful business people, coaches, aunts, daughters, church members, sisters, friends, and most importantly “normal” people. All of this describes me. The stigma is still very strong, but I am constantly encouraged to talk about my experience, and hearing about others did help me realize I was going to be okay. That I wasn’t a monster. Or selfish. Or broken. Or worse, doomed to a sad statistic. I don’t feel like I have to hide or fake it anymore.
“I start to feel like I can’t maintain the façade any longer, that I may just start to show through. And I wish I knew what was wrong. Maybe something about how stupid my whole life is. I don’t know. Why does the rest of the world put up with the hypocrisy, the need to put a happy face on sorrow, the need to keep keeping on?… I don’t know the answer. I know only that I can’t. I don’t want any more vicissitudes, I don’t want any more of this try, try again stuff. I just want out. I’ve had it. I am so tired. I am twenty and I am already exhausted.” ~ Elizabeth Wurtzel quotes (American Author and Actress, b.1967)
I am 37 years old. I have two beautiful, talented, smart and exceptionally well behaved children who haven’t given me a minute of trouble their whole lives. I have a loving supportive family. I am smart. I am not horribly unattractive. I am ambitious. I work hard and have a fantastic career. I can run for hours. I have some unique talents. I am well educated. And I hate myself profoundly.
Why is this? I don’t understand it myself but I am trying to now, finally, after 37 years of this. I cannot remember more than a handful of moments that I can honestly say I was happy. I have periods of being ‘okay’ more periods of sad and some of total blackness. I hate this more about myself than anything. I can’t stand people who whine and feel sorry for themselves. I despise people who sit around not doing anything for themselves. People who complain and take up my time going over the disappointments in their lives bore and disgust me. But this is exactly who I am on the inside.
I wasn’t raised this way. My family is strong. Every one of them accomplished in their own way. Successful. In my family, if you have an issue, physical or otherwise you suck it up and deal with it. We don’t have time or the patience for weakness. My family is amazing and has always helped one of the other of us in need, don’t get me wrong. But depression is not something to be tolerated or succumbed to. But I am clinically depressed and am an embarrassment. They haven’t said as much and probably wouldn’t. I have been for as long as I can remember and I am not capable of sucking it up anymore. As Elizabeth Wurtzel said, I am exhausted.
Tired. I am so tired of wishing I would disappear. I have gone through my whole life hoping this “one thing” would make me better. Better grades, higher achievement, a promotion, another marathon medal, better split times, nicer hair, a better figure, and most intensely…a great love. Love had eluded me and this, I feel, is my biggest failure of all. But if I do something fantastic, I will be okay. If I can find someone to love me. I will be better. But it is never enough. I know even that wouldn’t be enough.
Admitting this makes me sick. I should be able to overcome this. But not admitting it makes me sicker. It contributes to my Lupus, which I will take in extreme forms over this darkness. I find myself jealous of cancer patients and dead crime victims. How pitiful is that? But often times I could leave all of it behind and that would be ideal. My children would be taken care of and I would not be stigmatized. I would not be seen as a horrible person. I always thought people who take the ‘easy way out’ are selfish people. The worst kind of person. A waste. Deciding to take your own life is NOT easy, by the way. Picking the weapon and going through the agonizing steps will be the hardest thing a person could ever imagine going through. Almost as hard as imagining living through another day of the pain and torture of a mental condition you believe no one can understand or save you from. Hell is something you feel like you deserve. At least I did.
My children…feeling this way means I am a terrible parent, right? How could I feel like leaving them? Aren’t they enough to live for and to make me snap out of it. Of course they are. They are wonderful and I feel the one reason why I am still here today. But many times I feel like they would be so much better off without me. But in leaving them, I would leave them to always blame themselves because that is what children do. So I cannot leave. I won’t leave. But I need help. And finally, I am getting it.
I am beginning to understand this is a medical condition. Not entirely my fault I suppose, even though I feel like it is. Like I am weak. Could five concussions have contributed to it? Perhaps, but I have always been sad. I remember darkness even when I was a child. Even growing up in the ideal ‘Leave It to Beaver’ household. I could not have asked for better in a childhood. I would hate it if anyone were to feel sorry for me. I couldn’t stand for anyone to look at me with a sad look and ask if I am okay. I will just say that I am fine. I will not bother you with my illness. My mother says I have said even as a toddler that I can do it myself. And I can. I will. I just need to say this. I had to write it. It is time to admit it to get better. This is an illness and I have to believe that.
I will be okay.
Jeannine “Jaye” Palmer: I made a serious suicide attempt back in 2001. I overdosed. It was the night before Thanksgiving, and I called the ambulance after I woke up. The paramedics brought me into the emergency room of our local hospital, and the doctors and nurses in the ER wanted to admit me onto the mental health unit. They called the psychiatrist I was seeing at that time and asked for him to admit me. They were told, “No, let her sleep it off in the ER and send her home and tell her I want to see her in my office the day after Thanksgiving.” He had no idea what I may still have had at home to finish what I had started. If it hadn’t been for a friend sending her son out to pick me up so I could stay with them for Thanksgiving, I probably would not be here to be able to tell my story. That was the last serious attempt I ever made. It was also a turning point in my recovery. I felt as though I had been given a second chance at life. I went back to school and earned an associates of Human Services focusing in Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. I am currently working as a peer support specialist here in Fairbanks, Alaska, and am very involved with the local post-vention task force here. I thank God every day that I am alive to be able to help others realize that there *ARE* people out there that *DO CARE* and that suicide is *NOT THE ANSWER* I am also the vice president of the local chapter of NAMI.
Feel free to use my identity. I have nothing to hide.
My name is Patricia Sterenchock, but I prefer Patti. I am a 37 year old female,married 17 years to a wonderful man and I have 4 teenage boys.I am not a very good writer but I am going to try to tell my story the best I can.
My depression started early in my childhood but it was not till many years later that I realized it was depression and it took many more after that till I even helped myself. I lived in an abusive home but I wont go into detail. I have been in and out of psych wards since the age of 14. Every doctor I went to see I didn’t feel as if anything was helping me. I always felt alone. I felt as if I was living two different lives. I was put on several medication which I didn’t see a change. So as many I started self medicating. Which in time instead of doctors focusing on my depression they focused on my addiction. So it was never solved. I couldn’t handle the way I felt so I would cut myself or anything else I could to harm myself in hopes that it would eventually kill me. It was later on that I realized I was crying out for help.
Unfortunately in 2009 I hit my breaking point. I lost my best friend to suicide.She was the only one I felt or thought cared for me. That sent me over the edge I truly felt alone even thou I had 4 wonderful kids and a husband who loved me even after everything I put them through. I was still using at the time more depressed than ever and my husband pretty much was giving up on me because he didn’t know what else to do to help me. So in May of 2009 I decide it was it I was tired of hurting inside and also hurting my family and friends so I dumped gas on myself and lit it. I am burned over 60% of my body and the doctors have no idea how I am still here. I was in a coma for two weeks and in the hospital for a month after and had many surgeries.
This last attempt almost killed me but instead it saved me. I am here for a reason and I believe my reason is to save someone else. I went and received my GED and now I am enrolled in collage to receive a Human Service Degree because I legally want to be able to help people and share my full story. I lost my sister(2009)shortly after my attempt and also my best friends mother who I was close to this past year. I want to be their voice because they are no longer here to share their stories.
I have visible scars to everyone and when asked what happened I tell them the truth. I am not embarrassed by what I did and it needs to be known that other people are not alone. I am here for anyone who need a friend to talk to. Everyone needs someone who understands them not someone who only knows what they hear or read in a book. My story will continue and I will reach my goal as a survivor and I will make a difference.
On January 17, 2007, I bought 40 over-the-counter sleeping pills from a local pharmacy. I drove to a spot in close proximity to the house of the girl I loved.
I was under a lot of “stress”; after working blue collar jobs for a couple of years out of high school, I decided to take some community college classes. My mom had engrained the idea that without college, I could not be successful. I had extreme anxiety during the week of classes I attended. It was the imaginary pressure I was putting on myself; and by imaginary, I mean pressure that existed only because my mind created it, and no one else was aware.
With my car parked in such a sentimental location, I thought I would commit suicide. The pressure in my head was at a boiling point and I wanted to put an end to it. Lucky for me, that day, I decided to call my mom instead. I told her I would be dropping my classes and getting a full refund for the money I put in. I was crying. I honestly can’t remember her actual reaction, but in my head, I knew she was disappointed. At least without the anxiety of sitting through another college class, the boiling pressure eased momentarily. I trashed the pills and went to work as usual. That night, I slept like a baby.
On January 19, 2007, I bought 40 more over-the-counter sleeping pills, parked in the same spot as I had only two days prior. I swallowed the pills and washed them down with a 20oz bottle of Coke. Dropping the classes had done nothing but delay the inevitable. Now, with God-knows-what chemicals flowing through my veins, I forced myself to confront the real issue at hand – I will never be successful enough to live on my own, and I have failed at loving the only girl who ever really loved me. I am broken human being and there is no fix. My family and friends are better off without me.
I started writing my goodbyes and sorries on a piece of paper, before the drugs really kicked in. I was about halfway through when my hands started shaking to the extent that I couldn’t physically write any more. From here, the details I can remember are blurred. I considered calling 911 or calling my best friend. Next thing I know, I’m sitting in the passenger seat, naked, and having pissed myself. My best friend opened the driver side door and sat next to me. He looked at me and asked, “What is that smell?” I laughed and cried simultaneously, trying to think of how to explain this to him. He was not actually there. All of this was part of a massive overdose trip.
I was in and out of consciousness for hours. I’m able to open a door and puke. I remember looking out the windshield at the sky. It was like nothing I’d ever seen. The sun beaming through the clouds was so beautiful, and I knew I had made a terrible mistake. Hours keep passing and it gets dark quickly. It’s one of the coldest nights of the year, and the windows have fogged over. At this point, I have no idea what state I’m in or how I got there.
It’s now 3:00am, roughly ten hours after I’d taken the pills. I’m jolted awake. I’m naked and shivering cold. I manage to find my keys. All I can think of, is “I need to get home and sleep in my bed.” I put the car into drive, take an immediate right turn, and crash into the entrance of a gated community. I put the car in reverse, realizing I’m not where I thought I was, and get back on course. I somehow make it back to my neighborhood without hitting anything else or getting pulled over. I park at the end of the street and run to my house, still naked, and throw my soiled clothes into the garbage.
The next day, I call out of work. I don’t tell a soul what happened. I don’t go to a hospital. I decide to live the rest of my life like nothing ever happened.
In the Spring of 2009, I’m forced to tell an old high school friend this story. She casually mentioned how she was looking for the “best” way to commit suicide. Knowing her, she wasn’t bringing up suicide for the sake of odd conversation. I chose to ignore it at first, trying to protect myself. But on the third time she brought it up, I put a stop to it. I said, “You can’t commit suicide, because as soon as you commit it, you regret it.” I told her everything. She cried, said she could tell there was something wrong. I had saved her life because I tried to take my own.
Today is August 25, 2013, and I’m still alive. I’m living with and taking care of my 87-year-old grandfather. Earlier this year, the rest of my family was ready to put him in assisted living, against his wishes. My grandfather is a great man and he deserves more than that. Without my history, I don’t think I’d be up to the task. But ever since my suicide attempt, I’ve become desensitized to what the average person might consider uncomfortable. I only want to make my grandfather happy during his last days, and I’m the only one willing/able to give him that happiness and freedom. I hope to atone for the ultimate mistake I’ve made.
I’m not sure I’ll ever tell my family and friends what happened, but it seems more and more like the thing to do.
I wanted to tell my story…
It has been years now, and that time seems far away. Something like watching a movie about a girls life that isn’t my own. I had it rough as a young girl. I was thirteen and my family was a mess I tried to kill myself after I was raped by a boy who pretended to care for me. I took over a hundred aspirin and went to bed. I awoke violently ill and semi conscious. My family was so angry, they said terrible things I have yet to find forgiveness for. I couldn’t have my stomach pumped and just had to lay in the hospital waiting. My ears rang for almost six months. I eventually grew up and became the master of my own life and I couldn’t be a happier person. I hardly like to visit that part of my past because its quite painful and things may never fully heal. But I will promise that life has beauty and a certain value to it that you shouldn’t abuse or take into your own hands. Good luck and keep living.
Marie Pang: When I attempted my last suicide more than a year ago, my neighbors were suspicious about me because I didn’t go outside at all for a day, and I never answered their text messages, phone calls, nor the knockings on my door. Finally, EMS was called, and they found me already unconscious. I am forever grateful for my neighbors’ concern, and if they never called EMS, I probably would have died.
For people who have attempted suicide for the first time, I would suggest contacting them with a specialist in the field who would stress the consequences if they do it again: They may not just risk dying but becoming a vegetable or suffering severe pain, and that should scare them from attempting or thinking about it again. As a chronic suicide survivor, my last attempt was very severe. I was in a coma for nine days. I had problems walking, and my short-term memory has been affected. For people with multiple attempts, I suggest the family hospitalize their loved ones to become stabilized on psych medicine and closely observe the effects of the medication to see if it is working or not. Family therapy can be helpful for those who want to participate with the patient’s recovery. However, most families avoid it because of fear that they will be targeted as the main source of the problem.
When I came home after being hospitalized for a month, I was advised by my apartment manager to not discuss my suicidal matters with my neighbors because I scare them too much. Instead, I found helpful Internet support like this to process my thoughts and feelings of suicide. I really am interested in being trained to help survivors as a peer counselor for support and understanding, since I have been there personally. I want to help others who are struggling with suicidal thoughts or feelings or contemplating for the first time or chronic attempts. I wouldn’t mind volunteering somewhere because it would boost my self esteem and do something productive with my life experiences.
I have found an excellent partial hospitalization program for the mentally ill. They provide intense outpatient group therapy and individual therapy to learn coping skills and offer information that would encourage self-esteem and learn about the sickness a little better. The social workers offer assistance to contact sources of support that the patient is interested in.
I never benefited from crisis hotlines because if you’re not actively suicidal or attempting, I feel they just brush me off. They say they can’t just talk and that their purpose is to help people in eminent danger. However, I find support and feedback from online forums that encourage suicidal people to share their thoughts and feelings in a safe way. There are moderators or administrators to offer advice for all types of needs.
Ryan Rivera: Suffering from a slew of disorders, I lived a life on pause. I couldn’t work and
engage in social situations, and I didn’t have enough energy to enjoy the day. Every day was an uphill battle against anxiety, agoraphobia, panic attacks and physically debilitating symptoms. What I had was the complete package. I felt beaten by my disorders, and then came another – my suicidal thoughts.
Being consumed with so many intense thoughts and feelings, I often considered just ending my suffering. During especially dark moments, I contemplated killing myself. These were not proud moments for me. I had lost hope that I could get better. I didn’t see an end to my problems and constant worrying. My faith was dwindling.
The suicide attempt happened one day. I got a call from my cousin asking me to go out to celebrate his birthday. At first I was all right, but as the time of the dinner got closer, I started feeling more and more anxious. Were there going to be strangers at the dinner? Could I survive a whole night outside? My fears got the better of me. I ended up paralyzed inside my bathroom. I almost downed a whole bottle of pills in the hopes of calming down. Luckily, I stopped myself and settled for just lying on the floor and falling asleep.
It wasn’t until a friend of mine talked to me about how my panic symptoms could lead me down a dark road that I realized how close I got to ending my own life. I didn’t think I was about to commit suicide until I had a handful of pills at the ready. He said that not dealing with my afflictions would result in death by my own hands. I was stunned. I didn’t want to lose to my affliction.
I decided that I had enough. I wasn’t going to be a slave of my disorders anymore.
The first step to taking back my life began with asking for help. It took longer than expected for me to seek guidance because I wasn’t a social person. I needed to motivate myself to talk to people. It wasn’t an easy road. There were moments where I felt terrified of leaving my home. I was so anxious to talk to strangers and doctors. Through every difficult task, I reminded myself about what I wanted.
Taking a breath, I repeated a mantra to myself: “I will get better. I need other people to help me be healthy. I am worth the effort.”
Meditation really helped me find inner peace. I still wasn’t comfortable with dealing with people, so this solitary activity was perfect. Every time I was confronted with an opportunity to socialize or take a risk, I make sure to give myself time to meditate before I decided anything. I also made it a habit to write down all the great things that happened to me during the day to motivate me to continue doing well.
These small steps gave me the confidence I needed to beat my anxiety. In the comfort of my own home, I was slowly but surely able to cure myself. Also, with the help of my friends and loved ones, I got the support I needed to start again.
My son, Justin, turned 18 this past May _ Mother’s Day. It was a very emotional morning for me. See, on March 26, 2013 at 12:30 in the morning, I got a phone call. It was his number. He was at his dad’s house for the weekend. When I answered the phone, it was his girlfriend. “Get down here now, Justin shot himself.”
That was all she said and hung up the phone. When I arrived at his dad’s, the ambulance, police and fire trucks were there. As I ran down to the ambulance all I could think of was “Please god, let him be alive.” As I climbed in the side door, not breathing at this point, I saw blood and his body laying there whiter than ever. When he opened his eyes, I simply smiled at him, told him it would be OK and that I loved him. Looking back now, I don’t know if it had really hit me at this point.
He shot himself under his chin with a .22 pistol.
A helicopter ride and four days in the trauma unit later, he walked (yes, walked) out of the hospital.
While in the hospital, a psychiatrist sat with him for 45 minutes and never spoke with me or any of his other parents/step-parents. The doctor said, “He is fine, he seems remorseful,” and we left the hospital. I was dumbfounded. I contacted a local adolescent mental health facility. (During the next day at home, his temper and mannerisms scared me.) I was required to take him back to an ER in order to have him “placed” in the facility.
After a week of treatment, he was released. I contacted over 15 offices of psychiatrists and psychologists during the next week’s time. If they called back (most did not), I was told that it would be September before the doctor would be able to get him in. I think the only reason he got into the doctor he is currently seeing is because I cried on the phone with the receptionist.
I must state that Justin was an all-star athlete, not that great at school but passing, and no one close to him had any idea that he would ever consider suicide. Even now, I don’t understand what he could have been thinking or why he was so miserable that this was the only option. He is an avid hunter and had been around guns his whole life. There were no warning signs. No talk or hints.
The most difficult thing during this entire episode has been trying to find help. Trying to get in to see a doctor and help with the medical bills. (The helicopter ride was over $30,000 _ after insurance, it is still $6,000.) Not to mention the co-pays and medication. Then to face this without help has been challenging, to say the least. The doctors do not talk with each other. The hospital, while everyone was VERY nice, didn’t seem to have a clue as to what our next step was. I am very lucky to have the opportunity to spend more time with my son. However, this nightmare continues. You wonder if you should tell them they cannot go out or who they can hang out with. Do you pretend everything Is normal? All he says is, “I am fine,” “I promise I will never do that again.” I don’t know which way to turn or where to go for help. I try to be strong for him, it is very hard!
I am not sure what I want to get out of this post, maybe just to let somebody know that they are not alone, or maybe for me to know that I am not alone?
Hi everyone, my name is Sally I’m 17 years old and I’m a junior in high school. And yes I’d love to have my story publicly shared because I feel as if it can motivate at least one person who’s thinking about committing suicide to not do so. Okay well my story begins when I moved to the U.S. as a 6th grader back in 2007; as someone who has English as her second language things weren’t so easy for me having to adjust to a new culture and all, and it didn’t help that I was bullied by some of my classmates well because I’m African. As the quiet, shy person I am, I always kept things to myself and never told anyone that I was getting bullied and it continued to happen until my 7th grade year and finally stopped my 8th grade year. But then my freshman year in high school I fell for a senior who took advantage of me and then treated me like dirt; but I still acted as if it didn’t bother me or hurt me so everything just kept building up inside of me. Then came my sophomore year and it wasn’t the best year family wise or academically; my mom and I were having MANY issues, she thought I was going out doing God knows what when really I wasn’t. So one day when I came home she beat me and called me every name in the book; coming from my mom it hurt more than anything in this world, I had never EVER seen her that angry at me. Then everything just finally exploded I felt lonely, unwanted and thought “well if I just end it now no one will ever miss me because I don’t matter at all… I’m a piece of crap.” … but just as I was about to pass out my sister found me and told the whole family. From there on I was taken to therapy with my counselor and a teacher of mine who went through the same thing helped me out every single day and made realize that my life could be a WHOLE lot worse and that I AM special and I’m worth being in this world and that people do love me. Now everything is fine between my mom and I, she apologized to me over ten thousand times and all I have to say is I’m thankful to have gone through this experience because it taught me a whole lot. Now I use my experience to help underclassmen at my school get through their issues and not self harm or even think about doing it.
While most of the people in my personal life know about my past attempt, I have chosen to use an anonymous name here because of my work (I’m even sweating just writing this). I am currently a social worker that is working in suicide prevention. You would think that of all places, this would be the job where I could express past suicidal thoughts and attempts but it is not. I have sadly discovered that sometimes, people in the mental health profession can be the least understanding about suicide.
My last and most serious attempt was 21 years ago, when I was 12 years old. I had suffered from depression all of my life and had been thinking of suicide for about 2 years. It was important to me to plan my death carefully and with great thought so that I would ensure success and there would be little to no mess to clean up. I had several means at my disposal, including a firearm but decided that the easiest and cleanest way would be the myriad of prescription pills in our home, which I hoarded for months in a plastic play-doh container. While my parents were away and my sister was down the hall, I swallowed them by the handful one night and waited. Luckily, I was found unconscious by my mother and father and rushed to the emergency room where I was treated to a stomach pump and 3 days in the hospital. After awaking from my black out that lasted several hours (doctors suggested my parents make funeral arrangements) I was met with questions. Lots of questions. Did I mean to do this? Did I know what would happen? Why did I do it?
Maybe this was different for me than other people, but these questions only made it worse. I woke up in restraints, unable to move and more mad than I had ever been. I was so sure this would work that I was livid at myself that it didn’t. When my father asked me to promise to never do this again, I knew it was a lie. I knew that at the first opportunity I would try it again. Again luckily, I wasn’t given the chance. My family was very cautious at first to not leave me alone. They tried a psychiatrist but in my pre-teen hell I refused to speak to him after the first thing he asked me to do was fill out a 100 question, multiple choice survey. Slowly, with the help of family who were willing to talk about my attempt at my own pace and a very unsuspecting and gracious teacher who showed me someone cared if I lived or died, I survived. But the thoughts were still there. Always there, like a black shadow that followed me around and tapped me on the shoulder when I appeared to be behaving too happy or normal.
At 20, after changing my major to psychology I finally tried an anti-depressant. I would love to tell you that this was the miracle and it “cured” me and I never had another suicidal thought again. But the truth is, people don’t bother to tell you those pills aren’t magic. I did however get really lucky and mine worked. It made my suicidal thoughts decrease. I still had them at times and would spend the next 14 years struggling with them off and on, but the medication lifted the depression just enough that I didn’t want to die every second of every day as I had before.
Over the years, I have read numerous books, tried exercise, healthy eating, happy music, art, talking with family and friends, writing in a journal, taking long walks or drives, meditation and a multitude of other things to combat my depression. All of these have worked at one time or another. Sometimes, my depression is totally unpredictable and what worked as a coping skill yesterday doesn’t today. Most of all, I have discovered that paying attention to how I’m feeling is the best thing I can do to fight. Depression can knock you to your knees before you ever realize you’re on the ground. I have taught myself to be ever vigilant and “check in” with my moods throughout the day. I’ve also taught myself to speak up when I can to feel less helpless and angry. I had no idea at 12 that I was full of rage, but I finally figured this out. I was angry all the time and felt helpless to fight against it or anyone else. So I continue to work on being more assertive, noticing when I’m feeling angry and finding a way to let it out without hurting the people I love. (That one was tricky!)
This is why I chose to go into mental health and suicide prevention. Hoping that someday, we would all find a way to make sure no one had to feel this desperate again. Now, I know how difficult that dream is to fulfill. But I have seen people recover and I am glad to (finally) say I am one of them. I just wish that this world would let me say it out loud for everyone to hear and not punish me in the process. No one I work with knows of my attempt because in the past people have treated me very differently when they found out. I worry for the safety of my job and believe it or not, that someone will take advantage of the knowledge and use it against me somehow.
Even though I could talk about suicide for several pages, I will try to keep this brief. I am so excited and happy that attempt survivors are being recognized in this way. Sometimes, we are left out completely when people discuss suicide and we are very often not consulted when talk of strategy and solutions are discussed. Attempt survivors have such a unique view and have so much knowledge to share. I hope this continues so that we all get the chance to do just that.
Lauren: I’m 16 years old, and I’ve attempted suicide once. On April 12, 2013 I overdosed. The next thing I knew, I was getting light-headed and dizzy. When my sister came home, she discovered the empty bottles and me lying on the floor. I was awake, and she asked me what I’ve done, and I said, “I tried to kill myself.” She called my dad, who told her to call 911.
Once she was on the phone, the police came to my house and asked me some questions, “What kind of medicine did you take” and “What happened before that” and a bunch of other questions. It took a while for the paramedics to get there, but once they did, they loaded me into an ambulance, and my aunt and sister followed me to a hospital. I stayed in there for 12 hours to make sure that my body was fine and there were no complications.
During my stay in the ER, they had a mental professional to help me sort out my feelings, and then they contacted a local children’s psychiatric hospital and I was transferred there. I stayed in there for five days. Throughout my stay, I met teenagers like me, got on some better medicine and had a pretty good therapist who was strict. Those five days helped me, a lot. And in the end I was discharged, and I was happier than I have ever been!
I usually don’t want to share my story, afraid for people to see. But then I decided that it is something that I have to live with, but it doesn’t have to haunt me anymore. I can still remember my family crying, the hospital stay, my suicide attempt, but I don’t let that get to me anymore. Right before I tried to kill myself, I was so emotionally and physically numb. I was in so much pain, I saw life as pain, misery … hell. And after everything, and realizing what I’ve done, I finally saw life as a beautiful thing, filled with family, friends, money, and I could never have been happier.
I guess I want to say that the support from my family, and especially my teacher, really helped me get through the hard times in my life. And having people to talk to, like me, was very helpful, too. There’s my story! I hope you guys liked it. I just want to let everyone know that suicide is never the answer; and don’t ever start self-harming, and that life is pretty good. No matter what.
Jessica B.: I feel like an infant just learning to walk. Sometimes I look down at my hands and open and close my fingers as if I am moving my hands for the first time. When I talk to people now, my friends and family, I struggle to make sense of what they are talking about and to connect with them. I am different than them now. I am different. I know something that they do not know. I know something ugly and sad and scary. I know something no one should ever have to know.
I attempted suicide the morning of March 11, 2013. I overdosed _ just four months after a dear friend of mine ended her life on December 11, 2012. I think it is a miracle that I am even alive. And I know I should be grateful that I am alive. But I feel unbearable guilt for what I have left my friends and family with. Medical bills, questions as to why I did it, questions about my love for them, how I could think about leaving them, how I could think about leaving my nieces and nephews who range from age 3 to 9. I look at them and feel guilt that they have an aunt who lacks coping skills.
I have close friends that have been both incredibly supportive and silent. I have apologized again and again for my actions and tried over and over to give examples of all my “attempts” to get better, to get stronger. But I am weak. I feel like a baby bird. Nurses and therapists keep telling me to be kind to myself, be gentle and forgiving, but I find it impossible.
When I close my eyes I see more than 10 paramedics in my home their blue uniforms all blending into a large blue cloud, I see the lead paramedic kneeling in front of me asking me what I did, I see nurses leaning over me saying, “Ohhhh, you’re awake.” I hear friends on the other end of my phone line say, “It’s so good to hear your voice” and “We are so relieved.”
Life keeps moving _ but I am frozen. I am alive. But I am frozen.
I have found comfort in reading the stories of other survivors and reading the stories from their family members. Perhaps my story will move someone enough to feel connected again, to feel similar to someone else in this life and not so alone. Perhaps my story will move someone to tell their own story.
Thank you for providing a platform and opportunity for people like me. For allowing people who have experienced, and lived through, the horrible reality of attempting suicide an opportunity to give their experience a voice and speak their truth, no matter how painful it is.
When I was thirteen I began to self-harm. At first, due to being young, I didn’t really understand why I was doing it, I just knew that I would get very unhappy for long periods of time and harming myself would make the pain go away. For a while. Then the pain would come back and I would go a little deeper, and the cycle would continue. I finally confessed to my parents; my mum cried and my dad screamed at me, telling me I should be put into a mental institute. This exactly isn’t something to should say to someone suffering from self-harm. If you want to help someone who self-harms, sit them down over a cup of coffee or their favourite type of cake or something you know they’ll feel comfortable with. Tell them you love them and you want to help. Don’t try and force them to talk, but let them know you’re there for them and there are MANY other ways to let the pain out.
Around two years after I began self-harming I reached, what I would call, my ‘super low’. It was the most unhappy period of my life, my friends had forgotten I existed, my parents had just gotten divorced and two of my close friends had just died. I decided at the beginning of 2012 that I was going to end my life. Before I tried, I reached out to someone who I thought was there for me, instead they shot me down, telling me I was overreacting and to ‘grow up’. This just pushed me further into the hole I was already in. I’m not going to say what I did but I ended up in hospital, with a lot of panicked family members around me.
The hospital referred me to a therapist, and then they referred me to my school counsellor. I had school counselling for about five months and I felt a lot better! All I really needed was someone to listen to how I was feeling. Support. Which at the time, I wasn’t getting from my friends.
In November 2012 I started to become very unhappy again. I turned to self-harm because I felt that if I went back to my therapist, she would look upon me as a failure, which, I know now isn’t true. I also realised, she never really helped me solve my problems, because I was never completely honest with her. One day I cracked, after spending the night before cutting myself all over, I broke down in the middle of school, saddened and ashamed I had let my problems get this deep again. I got sent to an outside of school therapist and I was honest – that’s one thing I would urge you to do, be honest with the person you’re talking to, whether it’s a friend, a parent or a counsellor. Without being honest, they will never understand how to help you through your situation/s. I know coming forward and saying, “Yes, I’m having suicidal thoughts again” can be extremely difficult, it was difficult for me, but saying those six words was definitely worth the tears.
Along with counselling, I found some incredible friends to help me out and after opening up to one of these friends, I realised that he had been through similar situations. He’s always available for me, if I call him at 3am or 3pm, he will sit and talk to me until I feel better. I also opened up to my mum, who now checks in on how I’m feeling every day or so, and we talk about everything. Something we didn’t do before this.
I’m seventeen this year and I’m still not quite sure why I have been through this experience but I feel like it is my duty to share it with you. There is a great quote which I tell myself on days when I struggle and it makes me realise there IS a future for me and others in similar situations; “Although I can’t understand why this happened, I know that I will when I look back someday.” – Superchic[k]. There is a reason why we all feel the way we feel, and we may find that out days or years later, but I feel like I should use my story to help others around me, and that’s what I plan to do.
To finish, I leave four quotes from Jamie Tworkowski, founder of ‘To Write Love On Her Arms’;
“You were created to love and be loved.”
“You need to know that your story is important and that you’re part of a bigger story.”
“You need to know that your life matters.”
“You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.”
If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, please come forward and talk to someone. Stay strong!
Anne: Most of my life I have felt like I am on the outside looking in. I had a relatively average childhood in the suburbs of Chicago. Events transpired over the years, some that I remember and some I have repressed. I was raped at age seven by a man dressed as a priest. It was safe to let a priest into the house, wasn’t it?
I started cutting at age 11 and took an overdose during summer school psychology class the year before I was to be a senior in high school. The physician in the ER told my parents that I needed to a see a psychiatrist or have other professional help, but my father did not believe in that “nonsense.” I was discharged that evening to my parents’ care. After some discussion between my parents, I remember seeing the psychiatrist once.
Heavily into illegal drugs my senior year of high school and into college, I was searching for any means of escape from reality. I went through drug rehab in college addressing the drugs but not the underlying causes.
My life did not turn out the way I expected it to turn out. I became physically handicapped in 2003, losing the ability to work, to play the flute, to ride a bike, swim, to be all that I wanted to be. It happens. I do not seek pity.
My only child grew up, left home and became an independent person.
My only sister rarely speaks to me.
My parents died. I have no family home to return to.
The man I married ended up abusing me emotionally and physically and ultimately left me in a strange new place … alone.
Everyone is gone.
After he walked out in silence, I felt like my mind was under siege. My depression intensified. When served papers for the ensuing divorce, two months after he left, I
attempted suicide again.
That was six years ago. I remember that day and night like it was yesterday. I remember how it felt because I still feel it. “They” say I have suicidal ideation amidst a myriad of other psychiatric diagnostic labels.
The body and mind are amazingly resilient. And even though some days are a struggle and the darkness so intense, I remain here writing short stories, poetry and drawing; calling upon these skills that were not lost, did not leave or pass away.
My story has no happy ending for I still seek to escape somehow this awful empty feeling of being on the outside looking in.
If it weren’t for my foster mom I wouldn’t be here… I would have died the day my best friend did, 7 years ago…at least that’s what my brain tells me. My foster mom never cared what I did or where I went, she never told me no because I never asked–we didn’t understand each other because of a language barrier. But, even though I rarely went out, this one night she adamantly refused to let me go. Like any 14 year old would be, I was angry…but I continued my night in my room. The next morning I got the call that my best friend had been killed in a car accident. I didn’t know what to do. I called all the family I was allowed to have contact with but none of them had a clue what I was talking about, even though my aunt was close friends with my friends mom. I started feeling more and more crazy with every person I tried. Finally I gave up and just let my foster-sister comfort me. I didn’t know what else to do…because it was me that should have been dead. Had my foster mom just been herself, it would have been me. Had I defied her, like I was known to do, it would have been me. But it wasn’t and my whole world became one big confusing mess. Then I got angry…because he had a family who loved him, he was popular, he was loved….and I had none of that. I was living in foster care with no family and no one wanted me. I wasn’t popular…unless you counted trouble and annoying, popular. But most of all, I didn’t feel very loved. I knew I was alone in the world and that convinced me that it should have been me not him….so I tried killing myself. I wanted it to be me and I felt that if I died, somehow he would come back to life and everything would move on as normal. No one would notice my absence and his wouldn’t exist. It didn’t work…and then I had to go to school. Going back to school was a nightmare. People were angry and confused….we were so young. They didn’t understand how someone so “special” could be gone so quickly. Then a girl who didn’t know me very well, but knew where I was and that I was friends with the deceased, asked me why it wasn’t me…because I was a nobody. She stated that nobody would notice or care if it had been me or some of the other kids like me. But it wasn’t me. It was him…and that wasn’t fair. Her statement validated my survivor’s guilt so I tried dying again…and failed. Some say that it’s a cowards way out of life, and maybe it is… but sometimes life is so hard, so unfair that it seems that death is the only answer. It felt like my only way out. But I lived…so am I a coward?
I am now 21 years old. Not much has changed. I moved away from my home state and thought that it would help me conquer suicide…I thought that it would help me to stop injuring myself. It didn’t. I am still pretty alone in the world…except now, I have a couple of people who I know want me here. Moving here, I was met with open arms by 2 women who barely knew me..but have come to be my greatest fans. But in my darkest hours, I felt that not even they wouldn’t notice my absence. About 5 months ago, I tried ending it all again…and failed, again. One of the ladies came to my house and stayed with me for most of that night. Held me and cried for the pain I was feeling. It didn’t help. I still wanted to die. The next day, I tried again…but this time, before I got too far, I asked for help. I wasn’t ready to go..and for the first time in my life, I was terrified of death. I was meant to be here, in this world…for some reason or another. I have tried to kill myself more times than I can count…and each time I have failed. Maybe I’m just stupid in the way I’m doing it…but I’ll stick with the story that it’s just meant to be. When I called my friend and told her that I wanted to die, she drove an hour to my house and cried with me…for me. She took me to the hospital and admitted me. It was in that visit that I realized that I don’t want this life anymore. I don’t want suicide. I want to defeat my demons. Being in the psych unit was difficult. I was drugged and out of it to null the pain and the people there were all wanting to die also. But my two friends diligently visited..and laughed a little at my high state. It was then, for the first time in my life, that I realized I meant at least a sliver to someone. Life is still not all dandelions and rose petals… in fact it’s really difficult. I still walk the world alone…I still have all of the same problems as before…but I’m choosing to not let them hurt me like they did–for now. But now I know I’m loved…because I love myself…and that’s all that really matters. I don’t think suicide ever goes away. I think once you have a thought of it, it lingers somewhere in the back of your mind. I think that for those of us who have tried and failed it will always seem like an option, even when we feel it is not. I think it’s a demon that cannot be erased…but can be reckoned with. It’s a struggle… Its painful. But find it in you to know that you are worthy of something…if at least your own love.
I was 13 the first time I decided my life would be better off if it no longer existed. The moment I attempted I freaked out, knowing that ending my life wasn’t what I had wanted and yet I had come so very close. I put myself into a whirlwind of wanting to die and live at the same time and thought for just a second that I could actually let myself die. But I didn’t. Fast forward two years. I’m standing in my best friend’s basement. I’ve written a note and beside me on her dryer is a bottle of pills meant to “cure” my depression. I wasn’t convinced they could cure it but I thought maybe they’d help end the pain. I regret to this day letting a friend find me like that but after 4 years I know that if she hadn’t been there I’d probably have died and I am grateful for that intervention. Finally, just a year and a half ago. Christmas day and already I knew that trying to live as a transgender male was going to be a battle and a half and I wasn’t sure I was ready to try and win this one. I thought for the sake of argument that once again if I let myself not be here, then maybe hurting people I cared for would be put to the minimum. I told no one and still to this day no one knows how dark that Christmas Day was but in hindsight I knew that giving in wasn’t what I needed. The drive to the hospital in my best friends car was the longest 30 minutes of my life and the stitches and questions that followed bruised my soul just a little bit more. I went back to counseling though. I found a therapist that works with me and listens and is able to see what my destruction has stemmed from. Just months after I last attempted I got an earth shattering phone call. My friend had committed suicide because he thought he had no one to talk to. I hadn’t called him in months because I was new to college and living with my own demons and to this day I wonder if I had made just one phone call if he would still be breathing.This experience however is the reason I’m majoring in psychology; so that I can help people who do not feel they can continue or feel they have anyone to talk to. I have a friend who continually reminds me to have hope. Have hope for a new day, a better day. Have hope that you’ll pull through. I’ve come to continually remind myself every day: Have Hope.
From Arielle: I’ve suffered from depression for years. Words could not express the happiness I felt when I stumbled upon this blog! A few years ago I hit rock bottom. I tried to destroy as many relationships as I could, thinking that it’d make ending all the pain easier. I fought with myself for weeks, trying to decide on whether I should stay or make the pain stop. One day I just couldn’t take it anymore. I tried to overdose, I don’t remember much, I do however remember laying on the cold floor as my eyes got heavy. My mom’s voice calling out my name, I remember how far away she sounded. I couldn’t move. I can still hear her screaming and shouting from when she found me, hear the helplessness and desperation in her voice. She kept telling me to hold on, and that it would be ok. I couldn’t tell if she was trying to reassure herself, or me. I felt her tears fall on my face, she held me in her arms so tight as she begged 911 to hurry. At that moment regret set in, and no matter how hard I tried to fight the sleepiness I couldn’t stay awake. I wanted to apologize, I wanted to tell her it’d be ok. Every time I tried to speak I just mumbled, all my words ran together as I drifted in and out. The last I thing I remember seeing before passing out was my dad, standing in the middle of the street. He held onto my mom so tight as I was being put in the ambulance, they looked so defeated. They looked so broken. I woke up in the emergency room. I had tubes down my throat, I was strapped to a bed, people were speaking in hush tones and sobbing. I tried to rip the tubes out so I could speak, but it was no use. I couldn’t move. I stayed in the hospital for about 2 days on suicide watch until a bed opened in a psych hospital. I stayed in the psych hospital for just about a month. Till this very day I still feel as though it was the best thing to happen to me. Before I felt so alone, I felt like there wasn’t one person that could relate to me. I learned I wasn’t alone, I learned coping skills that work for me, I learned not to be ashamed and that it was ok to ask for help. In 2009 I found out my cousin had committed suicide, I learned that a friend had also committed suicide the same week. While I attended their services I got a chance to see the affect I would have had on others had my mom not found me in time. It was so surreal, all I could think about was how that could have been me. How all these people mourning could have been mourning for me. For a long time I felt guilt. I felt guilty for putting my family through that, I felt so bad for putting my Mom in such a horrid situation. I felt so sad for her knowing she held me for what we both thought was the last time, and it was all my fault. How do I forgive myself? It takes time to recover, it takes time for things to get better. People aren’t always going to understand your situation, some people may judge you. Its people like that who make you feel ashamed, people like that who make you scared to reach out. I want to apologize to you if you’ve ever encountered these types of people. Ignorance is bliss, and people will shy away from what they don’t understand, they’ll shy away from what they fear. Please do not allow these people to stand in your way to recovery. I know its hard to see yourself here in the future when you feel like you’re locked in a dark room. I know how hard it is to pick up the pieces. I can’t promise you life will be a bunch of sunny days, and sometimes it does get worse before it gets better… but I can tell you once it does get better it’ll be worth the struggle. We all have our own demons to battle, we’re all here on our own journey. Sometimes the hardest part of living is taking breaths just to stay. There’s hope, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve seen it, but it wasn’t until someone dragged me through the darkness while I kicked and screamed the whole way. I still have bad days where I think that if I make it through till the end it’ll be a miracle! I make it though, because who’s to say that tomorrow won’t be the most amazing day of my life? Get help, speak up. Don’t suffer in silence, and if someone close to you is struggling, hold on to them tight. Don’t let them slip away. No matter how much they push you away… HOLD ON. Let them know someone cares, because sometimes that’s all it takes.
In 2008, I had been prescribed anti-seizure medication and after a few months of taking it, I lost it. I woke up to a police officer knocking on my door. I was pissed. How was I alive?!??! I called my doctor prior to this act and told the office I was feeling suicidal. I didn’t hear back from them and took it into my own hands. I didn’t answer the calls from the office, after taking the meds, so they sent an officer. I played it off…
The next day was a daze. I went to work and didn’t speak. How could I stand to be around these pukes another day? (they weren’t really pukes) Why was I even alive? I had been on drugs that never worked and I never got a break from taking them. I barely went to therapy. The therapists creeped me out. It was dark. It took everything I had to take a shower. I owned a home, so I had a mortgage that kept me going. I hated myself. I was abused and left alone as a child. If my birth parents didn’t want me, who would? I cried in the shower to convince myself I wasn’t crying.
I found a therapist that talked to me about taking control back. I told him I had a tool box with a hammer and a screw and wanted more. I needed to know how to cope with feelings that overcame me. So, we talked and I was honest. I opened up (which I hardly do) and slowly got off medications that did nothing but numb me. I knew I was a happy person, but I lost her along the road somewhere. I told him what happened in the Army. I cried in front of him. I took on so much blame for my birth parents not wanting me. If I could have had less energy, been smarter, prettier, perfecter…..maybe they would have kept me and never abused me. Many people had told me, “Just remember, you were just a kid”, but that didn’t matter. It didn’t matter because I felt like the adult. My therapist told me, “You were not the responsible adult” and that rang in my head for days, and even now, after that. He was right. I had a lot going for me. One thing I had going foe me was I just wasn’t that good at suicide or even taking meds. Thank goodness. I slowly let go of the Christian guilt and the abuse. I slowly found me.
Sometimes, I still cry about the pain. I allow myself to hurt for how the little me should have been treated. Someone should cry for her; why not me? I can even call my friends when I’m hurting now……… I started helping kids that were in foster care and raising money for suicide prevention. After that, I started school again and got a job in a crisis center. Helping people help themselves helps me. I don’t get triggered by hearing stories of trauma, but I do try to market hope to these people. I know there is a light outside of the darkness. I know that people love me just how I am and I don’t have to be “something” to them to make it happen. I can be silly, wear non-matching socks, sarcastic and loving.
And guess what? My bio parents are really missing out.
I don’t exactly know how long I’ve been depressed for. People say that when children throw a lot of temper tantrums, it means they’re depressed. I was one of those kids. No one actually noticed anything was really wrong, though. Not until about the age of ten. My friends said I wasn’t talking to them as much, my teachers said I seemed sad. This sadness went on and on through the years, until I finally started to harm myself to relieve the turmoil inside. I began therapy, dropped out of school at the age of 15, and eventually ended up at McHugh, a school for mentally ill youth. There, I met with a psychiatrist for the first time. It was not a pleasant experience. He told me I was overweight, pumped me full of medication and just treated me like crap. I stayed anyway. I knew that this school was probably going to be my only chance of graduating.
My home life wasn’t the best, either. My parents had their own problems. My mother is sick with Multiple Sclerosis, my father was dealing with his own mental illnesses. They didn’t understand what was going on with me. They didn’t know that I was so…depressed and anxious. That the smallest thing would make me snap. The smallest thing did make me snap.
I’d been planning to go to a party on Halloween for a few months. Everyone in my family knew about it. They knew I was saving up. But they suddenly changed they’re minds. I was told, “No.” Something I’m used to being told. For some reason, though, that time I just couldn’t take it. I couldn’t handle having this one time, this one happy time, being taken away from me. So, I overdosed. I had what I thought was my last cigarrette, said goodnight to my mother and just went to sleep. I barely remember the next day. I know that I was so tired that I didn’t know my own strength, and I spent most of the day at McHugh sleeping. Nobody had a clue. Not one person knew what I had done until about a week later, when my psychiatrist asked if I had done something to harm myself recently. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I felt so ashamed of myself. I tried to kill myself over such a small thing. I just didn’t want to be sad anymore. That’s all.
My psychiatrist decided I was stupid, and told me so. They called my mother and made sure I knew that I could talk to anyone at anytime about my suicidal thoughts. I was insulted by someone who was supposed to help me. My family became overly affectionate and watchful. I didn’t like it. How was I supposed to tell someone how I felt after, well, this? This reaction that was so…not helpful.
I never made a serious attempt again. I still think about suicide, but it’s not as bad as it used to be. You see, I met someone. Someone who changed everything. Someone who loved me. Someone that I could fall in love with.
I feel like I have a future now. I can see now that it’s worth it. Life is worth it. I have to try because it gets better. I’m still sick, but I can manage it. As long as I know I have a future and people love me, I can manage it. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be happy. Maybe one day I’ll be cured. I look forward to that day.
I tried to kill myself 3 years ago in May. I overdosed. It’s not that I wanted to die, I just couldn’t handle living another moment. There was so much pain and darkness caused by my depression, I didn’t feel like I could do it any longer.
I am a Christian, and suicide is a controversial thing. But I can say that as I took those pills, I didn’t care if I was going to hell because it had to be better than living in my condition.
My parents and some really close friends knew that I was suicidal. I had been in therapy for about 9 months. At one point I had a stash of razors and pills, but they took it away from me. But I just got more.
I would venture to say that part of being suicidal was because I had stopped cutting, I stopped writing, and I stopped talking to people about what was going on. I refused every coping skill, both positive and negative.
I was put on Prozac a month before the attempt, and that gave me an excuse to fake it. And I faked it damn well. People, including my therapist and psychiatrist legitimately thought I was getting better.
And the one night, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I took the pills. The minute I was done, I felt nothing but regret. Questions kept filling my mind “what if…” “how much more pain is this going to cause the people around me?” “What if I do go to hell?”
A little over an hour later, after contemplating my eternal destiny, I came to the conclusion that the chance that I would be found unconscious was great. So that would land me in the hospital needing a liver transplant. I couldn’t justify needing a liver transplant on my own accord.
I walked downstairs and told my parents. Of course they flipped out, and sped me to the ER, I was transferred to a different hospital, and my body was healed. But my mind wasn’t.
They sent me to the adolescent ward of a local mental hospital, and I spent 16 days there. Eventually we found medication that worked enough to stabilize me so I could go home.
I spent the next year fighting off the PTSD of the whole situation, adjusting the medications, and basically fighting to feel and live again.
Only recently have I learned how to not be apathetic, to create art, and to love life again.
Re: Mental Healthcare
Therapists need to accept that their patients are going to lie to them! Someone who is mentally ill is going to lie about a lot of things, and the therapists need to confront that! They need to ask “is there anything you aren’t telling me?” “Is there anything I haven’t asked about?” “Is there anything you would like to tell me?” “Is there anything that you don’t want to tell me”
It’s too professional. If you can avoid it at all, don’t take notes while talking to the patient! Make it a real live conversation. You aren’t studying this person; you’re not going to take a test about them. Just take notes about the session as a whole AFTER the session is over. Or take BREIF notes during the session. My therapist would sometimes take pages of notes in one 50 minute session! That’s not necessary.
I think the stigma around “mental hospital” is wrong. It isn’t a bad place to be. It was good because they were aggressive with my medication. Outpatient psychiatry is way too slow. They need to speed up doses of medication, if it’s too slow, it can turn into an emergency situation.
Re: Friends and Family
I think the worst part is seeing how scared everyone is to be around you. Some of my best friends treated me exactly the same as they always had. I really needed that. They expressed love, and asked questions, which I was happy to answer.
They visited me in the hospital, and through their actions I realized that I was really loved. We packed my hospital room with people, and the day was filled with laughter. Walking in, a stranger probably wouldn’t know why I was there. I needed that day to give me motivation to get better. I needed it so bad.
Re: Physical Affects
I experienced a lot of heartburn the following year, and I imagine it was due to the excess of the pills, and the antidote to it.
The stress of it all, and possibly different medications caused me to lose a lot of hair, but I’ve gained it back.
Before the suicide attempt, and being put on medication, I found myself frequently waking up at some ungodly hour, say 5:30, completely unable to go to back to sleep, I take this as a sign that my brain was just on overload from everything.
In all, I have been on the following medications:
Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, Lithium, Cymbalta, Abillify, Seroquel, Trazodone, and Lamictal.
I left the mental hospital on Lithium, Cymbalta and Trazodone.
Currently I am on a cocktail of Cymbalta, Trazodone and Lamictal.
My official diagnosis is “Mood disorder not otherwise specified”. They all think I’m bipolar, but I know it’s just depression, I’ve never been manic in my life.
I will turn 64 later this year. For all of my adult life I have suffered from Type 2 Bipolar disorder, which is characterized by periods of severe depression with only occasional manic episodes. I first started experiencing disabling depression when I was about fourteen or fifteen years old. I should indicate here that I am a highly intelligent person who belongs to Mensa, the high I.Q. society.
As a precocious child, and later as a teenager, I placed a lot of pressure on myself to succeed. I made good grades and looked forward to a career of some kind in science. I was accepted to the Colorado School of Mines in 1967, where I studied engineering, with a heavy emphasis on mathematics and physics. It was during that year of 1967-68 that my emotional problems started interfering with my life. My depressions prevented me from focusing on my work, and my grades began to slip.
I transferred to the University of Colorado, where I studied philosophy and political science. This was at the tail end of the 1960’s, during the height of the Vietnam war. I became radicalized and participated in the anti-war movement. The academic pressures on me were not as great – I excelled at writing good essays on exams and kept up nicely with my work, although the depressions continued. I was drinking more and more at this time, too, and the alcohol naturally exacerbated the depressions, although I was strongly addicted to the initial high one feels after the first few drinks.
I applied to law school, having gotten an outstanding score on the LSAT in December 1970. However, I had a record with the FBI by this time, and I feel that pressure was put on the University of Colorado to deny my application for law school – a friend of mine claimed he had seen a letter in the admissions office asking the school to turn me down.
It was at this point that my troubles became severe, and I was hospitalized in the summer of 1971. Unfortunately, I was misdiagnosed as psychotic and put on a heavy dosage of thorazine – 900 mg. per day. My brain chemistry must have been extremely bizarre, because I actually functioned on this dosage for five years, until it became clear to me that it was poisoning me to death. In early 1972, I was living at home with my parents and taking a few graduate school classes. One afternoon I took an Exacto knife with me into the bathroom, turned on the cold water tap to the bathtub, held my wrist under it for a minute or two to numb it, and then plunged the blade of the knife into my wrist and drew it across the flesh.
I don’t recall feeling any pain. As a matter of fact, for a minute or two I felt a sense of peace and resignation. But the sight of the blood panicked me, and I ran out of the bathroom holding my wrist, not even knowing what to do. My mother saw me and got me out to the garage and into the car and drove me to the doctor.
There may have been another attempt or two, more subconscious in nature, when I deliberately swallowed overdoses of medication and drank as much hard liquor as I could – these attempts resulting in unconsciousness from which I recovered without anyone knowing what I had done.
On thorazine my life turned into a kind of living hell, as I bloated up like Elvis Presley and started sleeping fourteen hours per day. I drifted around in school, taking law classes at Loyola in New Orleans for a semester and transferring back to graduate school in political science. In 1976 I flushed the meds down the toilet one day and went cold turkey with some rather horrible withdrawal symptoms consisting of severe panic and anxiety attacks.
I had a deep fear of the psychiatric profession by this time, and refused to consider returning to any kind of treatment or therapy. I used alcohol to medicate myself. This predictably ended in disaster in the early 1990’s – I lost my wife and daughter after the booze turned me into a verbally abusive monster.
Again I went cold turkey and I have been off alcohol now for 21 years. But in 1995, I found myself lying on the sofa one weekend in a fetal position, unable to do anything but weep. The girl I was living with at the time would try to speak to me, and my mind willed me to respond, but my body refused. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t get up, I couldn’t do a damned thing but lie there and cry like a baby for hours and hours.
It was then that I relented, finally, and saw another psychiatrist. He quickly diagnosed me as bipolar 2 and suggested putting me on Wellbutrin to see if it would help, assuring me there were other medications available if that did not work.
Within thirty days my life had changed. I still had ups and downs, and even what you might consider bouts of depression, but they were not the disabling, crippling depressions I’d lived with for nearly thirty years. I survived a terrible spring in 1999 — my daughter was a freshman at Columbine High School when the shootings occurred there in April. I began studying Buddhism in 2002 and I have found that this has helped me immensely as well – it has enabled me to accept my condition and live with it. I’m semi-retired now. My business failed after 2008 and the banking debacle, but I moved to western Colorado and spend a great deal of time now pursuing a lifelong passion of mine, landscape oil painting. I think that during the last couple of years I can honestly say that I have been happy, b]for the first time in my life.
Having survived depression and suicide for so many years, I know that the worst episodes are always transient and that things will always improve. It’s hard to accept that when you are in the grips of a crippling bout of depression, but I think that focusing on the impermanence of things has kept me going. There are nearly always better days ahead. The best course, for me, has been to live one day at a time. I try to stop worrying about the future. I know that I could die at any time, and I try to live each hour to the fullest extent possible. I keep very active mentally. I do not own a television set or a radio, but I own 3,000 books and I spend a lot of my free time reading. I also garden, cook, paint, and write. Idleness only worsens depression, I have found. Even when my life has been a total disaster, I have forced myself to keep going, hour by hour, sticking to a routine. I have a great deal of empathy for those who suffer from depression, and for those who want to die. A part of me knows the hopelessness and despair they feel, and the manner in which we shut down and refuse to hear any words of encouragement when we are suicidal. It’s hell. But it is survivable. You have to understand that and take ownership of it: suicidal feelings and behavior are survivable.
I have been sharing my suicide story since November 2007. The first time I shared it was a very desperate cry for help to a family member who had no way of knowing what to do to help me: he was a teenaged kid – my eldest child. When I then shared my story of despair with his Dad, this husband of 18 years, pastor, and behavior rehab who continues to work in a mental health agency called me a “coward” and continued the isolation and abuse of me that is the primary factor of my descent from artistic and outgoing devoted mother of three, school teacher, church leader, and community leader into the introverted and unhappy person in a desperate daily struggle with suicidal ideation. Two months later, when I shared by phone with my Sister, my misery and of my three thwarted attempts to die, she made the calls it took to get me to professional help. She lived nearly 700 miles away – a salient point to consider in how impactful one person can be to prevent a death. She also helped me after my ten day hospitalization to seek support of people in my community from whom I had hidden my struggle. It is those people who helped me separate from the abuser, and to continue the path of recovery I had started in the hospital, even throughout an ensuing divorce-custody battle in which allegations of mental unfitness were filed. Three professionals who saw me (and my daughter) over as much as ten months testified on behalf of my fitness and my recovery; but my twelve year old Son’s statement “my lawyer said I don’t have to spend the night with you” despite a court-ordered visitation that said otherwise – became the modus operandi for alienating my children’s affections from me as their fear and confusion about what depression/suicidal ideation means was used as weapons to destroy the loving mother-child bonds which had characterized our relationship.
Indeed, recovering from depression/suicidal attempts while being attacked in court, having Judge’s orders ignored, being morally condemned by the ex’s family, and watching my beloved children get “farmed out” to non-family members for weekend, holiday, and summer visitations that were, by the joint custody orders, to be mine; has been extremely painful. They say a “normal” divorce hurts. Three years into the recovery, after being shunned at my youngest Son’s 8th-grade graduation by my Son and ex-family; and after watching this much beloved Son hug his “surrogate Mom” who was invited (while I was not); the desperate thoughts and feelings came back in full force. I ended up in an ER after disappearing for the night and having sent distressing texts to someone(s) I love. The ones who were able to love me back are still with me in this recovery process – I have been blessed to remarry to a man who understands the role of family support in recovery.
As I was having the handcuffs/ankle cuffs removed from my ride in the back of a sherrif’s vehicle for my admittance for this second hospitalization, a realization was emerging in me about the full injustice of being criminalized for having sought help: not just as in this criminal mode of transportation, but in the unadjudicated loss of my children (at that time my sons), loss of employment, loss of financial security (I used every bit of my income and teacher retirement and then eventually went pro se to fight for my kids and to keep myself and my daughter in counseling while struggling to keep a roof over our heads). I lost community standing – often being starred at and talked about by the 700+ students or their parents that I had taught as an art teacher in our small community; and, I almost lost my faith.
But then, I realized during this hospitalization how very much fight for life I had had infused in me by my counselors, my supporters, and by God: and getting well enough to meet a deadline to get into a Master’s of Social Work program became the motivator that had me released in two days. Unfortunately, both times I was hospitalized I had had bad reactions to the anti-depressants I was prescribed. This second time, with a different med, resulted in a medical hospitalization and time off unpaid under FMLA from a program in which I had been successfully teaching G.E.D. to at-risk youth. I lost that job as an indirect consequence of having sought help again.
But worse than that, while I was hospitalized, the ex abducted my Daughter. When I went before the (temporary) judge with a writ of habeus, he told me that he would not act on it since the ex was going to get her in two weeks for summer visitation anyway. I tried to explain that I would likely not see her again, based on what he had done with my Sons for the three years prior. He advised that I get a lawyer and a modification of custody. Yeah! Right: more money that I didn’t have for another unenforced piece of paper when I now had more medical bills to pay? The road to recovery is neither straight, nor smooth: it is expensive.
We did end up in court: the ex brought the modification, attempting to get complete control and custody attempting to use yet more false accusation involving my new step-kids and new extended family. He even admitted in his filing that he had not been paying the court-ordered equity settlement on the marital property. This Judge – a different one – listened and saw through the alienation: and warned that ex that if he continued to alienate me from my children, it would be “the worst day of his life; and he would regret it for the rest of his life”. The damage had already been done – and the court had already proved for three years that it would not enforce its own orders (or hold its own lawyers accountable for their violations of the law), and I had already researched, studied, and experienced enough of how parental alienation works to know that anything short of a complete reunification order that removed their Dad and his colluding family from the picture would be futile. The extortion of such is that my Daughter continues to tell me that “I don’t deserve her” and made the choice to join the camp of these people who would send me texts mocking the billboards that ask the lifesaving question: “are you ok”, while accusing me of harassing my Son by sending him texts that said “I love you, Mom”.
That was in 2011. Since then, I have almost completed two years of my MSW – using every opportunity I have in classes, in social media, with legislators, and in my role with a local mental health agency to promote anti-stigma and pro-justice messages and to come alongside others who are recovering from suicide or other mental illness challenges. I’m happy to report that my eldest Son, whose forgiveness I’ve sought, bravely made some attempts during the custody battle to keep a relationship with me, and has, since graduating from high school, made some efforts to rebuild relationship. I am extremely proud of this young man, and I have an open heart toward all who declared me their enemy. Nothing in this is easy for any of us. I get that. But my faith is such that I believe that the years of love I poured into my kids before my depression, and their eventual maturity, will bring them all back. It will help that they will see that I did, and that I can, go on with a purposeful life in recovery. It will help when my training in suicide prevention produces more “someone else saved” stories to tell (with their permission, of course)! It will help that websites like this one will come into the public consciousness: That people will see that people who attempt suicide are … neighbors, parents, children, people of faith, spouses, siblings, teachers, community leaders …that we are PEOPLE! For all those who have listened and stood with me in the many times of telling of my story, I am thankful! To my Sister, who was brave enough to ask me the hard questions, persuade me to get help, and did the research for referrals … words will never be enough to express my appreciation for helping me stay alive to live this life I now live!
John Kilcoyne: It’s amazing to me that I can’t really remember how old I was, old enough to drink, at least in the early 1980s but not over 21. I had grown up in a poor household, sometimes so poor we didn’t know where our next meal was going to come from, sometimes welfare poor. My mother had met and married a man that I believe she met as a nurse in the hospital where he was staying after a suicide attempt. At least that’s how I remember the story though there’s another thing I couldn’t tell you when I heard it.
We had grown up with him from the time I was in 5th grade, coincidentally (or not) that was the year I failed school and had to repeat. We lived in fear of that man. When we first started living with him we were excited at the change, excited about a new life away from the arguing of my mother and grandmother, excited about living by the lake, the bon fires, fishing and this new man that knew magic and seemed to be so worldly.
It didn’t take long to change though. The incidents started, furniture was torn up, yelling became the norm and life became about being scared about what every night would bring. I was called stupid, incompetent and along with being poor and having to live with that during school, my childhood became a dark experience.
When he worked, paydays were the worst, even if we were going to have money and maybe some relief from the doubt of having no food, it became about dreading what may happen. Because we knew he would stop at the bar and drink and when that happened who knew what kind of hell we would experience when he walked through that door.
One time, him being a carpenter, he built furniture for the house. New end tables, a dry sink and more. We all marveled at the workmanship, though we knew little about such things, these new things looked like great pieces of furniture belonging in some one else’s house, despite the fact they were made of cheap plywood. No matter, they lasted maybe a week or maybe a month, I’m not sure. Because there was the night he got paid and came home and destroyed them all in his rage at the world. Nothing left but a pile of broken wood. Screaming and yelling for who knows why, because we were an unwanted
burden, because my mother had some minor faux pas at the bar or we were just stupid and he was angry because someone called him on his card trick and wanted their money back. It was all a mystery to us.
All I know is that this scene repeated over and over with different outcomes, sometimes we ended up in a car with mom hiding on one of the rural roads in the area, wondering what we were going to do to live. One time he beat my mom to a pulp, I honestly don’t believe I have ever seen anyone beat any worse than she was that night, eyes bleeding face swollen and bloody. Still, he was forgiven after every incident, I don’t know why, except to read what they say about battered women.
My mother must have been a very sad woman, but she never claimed to be and I was too young or not caring enough to understand.
There were my brother and sister’s stories, seeing him try to pull a piece of wood off the ceiling to beat my brother, the quiet admissions of sexual contact with one of my sisters, the rebellion of my oldest sister until she left home and my youngest sisters story of a gun and it being held to my mother’s head.
Alcohol, violence, both physical and verbal were the norms of our lives. There was no teaching, no understanding, no mercy during these times.
So it comes as no surprise that I never learned through my childhood how to handle certain situations correctly. When I met a girl soon after starting my new job out of high school I fell in love. At first it was a good relationship and we had fun, experimented with early love and early sex, but then when she went to college, something I couldn’t afford of course, and started meeting new people, our time started coming to a close. And my life started spiraling out of control due to lack of discipline, lack of knowledge of how to handle anything like this in a respectful, restrained, controlled way. I would drive to her college to see her, unwanted. More of a stalker than anything else. I’m sure I called and hung up.
I became jealous of her new boyfriend. Followed her, or more like chased her in my car, risking her, my and anyone‘s on the road, life. How I didn’t get arrested and put away I don’t know.
I involved my friends in my extensive pity party. Getting in fights, becoming emotional and out of control. I had moved in with friend I worked with, some efficiency apartment where we split the rent for a room too small for one. I don’t even think the guy liked me all that much, but I did it anyway. One night he went to his girlfriend’s apartment that was in the same place and I decided I didn’t want to live any more. Whether I truly did or not, I’m not sure. But I found some Kool-Aid or juice and a bottle of dry gas, of all things. Mixed them and drank it. I could drink a lot of alcohol so it really wasn’t hard and the Kool-Aid covered up the unpleasant taste (although I can taste it in some things still today).
I don’t know how I lived to write about this or to do all the things and see all things I have in my life since, it’s been 30 years since that happened. But I did. I called that girl I loved, and she called the police and somehow got them to my apartment. I was drunk from the concoction and was throwing up and they got me to the hospital where they saved my life.
I remember the ICU, the guy next to me that had slit his wrists, the man in the tent isolated and dying from some strange disease. My mother coming to see me. The Dr that I would see for the next year to work through my issues.
During this event, my grandfather died. I , at some time, realized how selfish the event was to my family, to my friends, to that girl. If I had died what would her life have been like, the guilt. Would there have been any or would she have moved on and forgotten about me. I don’t know.
I wouldn’t learn how to handle life productively for years to come, but I knew I had to learn that and started at that time determined to become more than I had been up to that point. Eventually, the darkness I had during my childhood would fade and become lighter. I never tried to kill myself again. I joined the Navy and tried to change and slowly I did. I did drink and even if I wasn’t like that man that ruled over my childhood, some of him was in me and I admit to doing some of things he did. Drinking until it ended my first marriage, luckily without children. Some drugs, and a lot of not knowing how to handle life without yelling, fighting and with maturity. Those things would come as time went on, but it was thanks to the Navy, meeting people and being influenced by what I wanted to be, not by what I was or by what I was told I was.
I worked and continue to work to become a better person. But I think I have not been to my boys what my step father was to me. I have quit drinking for many years now and don’t miss it. No twelve step program, just a day that I had enough, influenced by health and quit cold turkey.
Life is precious and I’ve learned that over the years. It’s more precious than money, things and status. Everyone deserves to be loved, to live with respect and to have hope for a better life. If doesn’t matter if they are poor and on welfare, in a trailer park, with only 1 pair of jeans to wear to school. They should be treated with respect and cultivated with love, shown how to deal with life properly, learn how to treat others with respect and with control when things don’t go their way. And when they love they should learn that it’s also precious and when it ends it’s not something to be overly sad about, though there is certainly some of that in there, but something to hold onto and remember and to make special
in their mind. What it isn’t is something to turn into violence, suicide and death.
But if that person does have those feelings and can’t control them then we all need to help them constructively. Help them see that there is another way to live and find happiness.
Last, a child is our most precious thing. Every child. They should be treated respectfully, never called stupid, worthless. Never beat, never assaulted or subjected to violence. And never have to live in fear day and night. It affects them in ways that cannot be seen until they end up in a hospital bed, a jail cell or a grave yard. Let’s hold them dear and we will all reap the rewards as they become adults.
My story goes back to 2006. I was 17 and found out I was pregnant. The way in which I became pregnant was horrible. I didn’t want to carry the child at all. Being 17, I had to have parental consent to have an abortion. My parents wouldn’t consent to it at all. I begged with no avail. During my pregnancy, I went through every type of abuse you could ever imagine. Mental abuse was the dominate one. I was called a slut and whore for becoming pregnant so young. My family shunned me and I sunk into a depression. My pregnancy took a turn for the worst when I was 36 weeks along. I developed preeclampsia and about lost my life and the child I was carrying. I had the child and he was fine. They stayed concerned about me because I was on the verge of a stroke even a week after having the baby. I went home against the doctors orders. The hospital wasn’t helping my depression.
Once home, postpartum set in. It set in hard. None of my doctors ever picked up on it. They played it off to hormones and me being “a typical teenager”. I gave up my rights to the child to my family so at least he would have a good life.
I started becoming more destructive towards myself. I felt I failed as a mother, giving up a child that I’d given birth to. Granted I was against carrying him to begin with but he was still my responsibility. I’d been a cutter since I was about 13. I began cutting a lot more than I ever had before. It helped ease some of the pain I was feeling. I had a skateboarding accident and I tore my knee up. After I tore my knee up, I had to have surgery to fix the damage. My knee doctor gave me pain pills left and right. He gave me Vicodin. I became hooked on Vicodin fairly fast. About 3 months after my knee surgery, I had my wisdom teeth removed. I was given more pain pills. During this time, I was still battling postpartum depression, it wasn’t diagnosed yet. I took the Vicodin to help ease how horrible I felt about myself. It was around the time the child turned 1 I hit a new low and began taking more and more pills. The mental abuse never let up and I was dating a man who physically abusive. I hit a horrible spiral where I overdosed 8 times in 4 months. By the 8th time I was so drained and miserable that I took an overdose. I figured this will end everything. One of my friends knew something was wrong and called 911. The cops came with rescue. I fought the cops with all my might. They tried so hard to get me to just go with rescue. After about 30 minutes the pills were kicking in and I collapsed. They loaded me up and rushed me to the emergency room. They charcoaled me 3 times. I was transferred to another hospital and placed in ICU for 3 days. I slept for about 2 and half days. Once I woke up I freaked. The first thing that ran through my head is what did I do wrong, why am I still here. My vitals were finally stable and I was put in the psych ward. They held me for 3 days there. During that time I was finally diagnosed with postpartum depression. They tried to place me in a treatment program but I declined it. I moved away from all of my family for a month to dry out from the pills and get my head straight. That month helped me out. I was in a new place seeing a new world basically. I explored so many new things. I was happy for the first time in 2 years. I came back home and started a new life. Anytime I was starting to sink back into depression, I went for a bike ride or a run. I was also dancing. That became my big outlet. It took a lot of fighting within to remember that I survived for a reason. That somewhere down the line, whether or not I seen it then or now, life is worth living. Since that day in July, I haven’t touched a pain pill. I’ve had several things happen where I should’ve taken some but I have refused them.
I’m now 23 and I still battle some of my demons but nothing like I did when I was 17. I look back at everything I’ve been through and realize I’m pretty strong to have been through so much so young. I take everything I learned and apply it to everyday life. Because of my past, I’m currently on my way to a degree in Psychology to hopefully help someone before they hit a point like I did. Whether it be to help them get away from an abusive partner or to help them see life is worth living, if I can help one person, I’m doing what I feel I’m set out to do in life.
I am 56 year old woman, and tried to kill myself when I was in my mid 20s. Now that I think about it, it amazes me that I can’t remember exactly what year this took place. I was living with a man who I had come to really depend on as being a deep, non-superficial, caring person, and he let me down in a very big way. I felt if I couldn’t count on him, then who could I count on. So one day, while he was at work, I took a handful of prescription pain killers, went out to the garage, sealed the doors, and turned on the car. The next thing I remember is dragging myself, on my stomach, over the threshold of the garage service door entrance. I could barely hold my head up as I puked into the grass on the other side of the door. Eventually I dragged myself across the lawn, into the house, and into the bathroom where I continued to be sick.
What struck me the hardest, when I recovered, was how I had gone so deep into this hole that it never had crossed my mind as to how much this would have devastated my family, especially my mother.
Years later when I met my husband, who I have now been married to for 22 years … And I gave birth to our son, I thought back to that day and said, “This boy is my life insurance policy.” Because I could never imagine being so lost inside myself, that I could ever lose site of the pain I would put him through if I were to take my own life. I felt since I brought him into this world, I needed to be there for him for as long as I possibly could. It is so scary to think that all of this can be forgotten, when one enters that abyss of depression.
My message to anyone contemplating suicide, is that it does get better! To think about all that I would have missed out on, all the pain I would have caused, and how I would have been remembered if I had been succesful that day, makes me shiver. Something very strong inside me, pulled me out of the garage that day, and I am grateful that it did.
Paul: I am a Suicide Survivor. My attempt and only attempt was six years ago in March 2007. I shot myself and lost part of the left side of my face. I’m missing my jaw, ear, damaged my eye socket. I wear a scar a daily reminder. What saved me? My daughter and Mother witnessed my attempt. I still remember them crying out my Name. One last look in their direction a Lucky turn of the head saved my Life. My son and father returning home before EMS arrived and my Son riding to the hospital with me. It’s been a hard fight rebuilding my Life but I’ve Won the Battle. I awake every morning feeling Blessed. No Bad Days and No Regrets – Live Life to the Fullest is my New Motto. Embrace the Day and Every Day my Friends.