Instead I Live on National Suicide Prevention Day

I know that National Suicide Prevention Day isn’t a national holiday. It’s a day dedicated to the prevention of suicides around the world celebrated on the 10th of September each year. Does the general public know of this day? Absolutely not. To be honest with you, I didn’t even know the exact date until I was approached by a mental health organization on IG. So, as a mental health advocate and blog owner, I didn’t know the day of the year that we show our commitment to preventing suicides for the entire year. Something is wrong with that. So, today, I chose to write about my experience, my story, and my commitment to preventing suicide 365 days a year. *TRIGGER WARNING: Suicide, suicidal thoughts, depression*

I would never have classified myself as someone that was suicidal. Even now, despite sharing a bunch of vulnerable stories online, I’m hesitant to put that out there. Suicide feels too dark and real to put online sometimes. But, like everything I put online, I share because it might make someone else feel a sense of community, belonging, and comfort.

My Story

In my file, you’d find a note from my high school years that reads something like “Displays Suicidal Tendencies.” The things I said were in line with someone who didn’t care whether they were on this earth or not. Goals that I had for the future were nowhere to be found – partially because I couldn’t imagine a future. 

My experience with suicidal thoughts or how to combat them is different than others. It’s not the same as what you see in the movies or even on those videos that they show you in health class. For me, everything just kind of was numb. I didn’t care about grades, friends, or anything that had given me joy. All I had the energy to do was sleep & sleeping forever seemed like a pretty good solution to these problems. 

My story as you’ll find, is not a one size fit all. Some people have trauma that pushes them into depression and suicidal tendencies. Some have depression in their biology that deals them a rough hand of cards from the start. After that, problem solving feels harder and harder every time. There’s some like me, who have an amazing life, an amazing family, and essentially all the right tools to make it, yet still fall into the trap of having dark thoughts. Some people fit none of those descriptions. 

The Realities of Suicide Prevention

Understanding suicide and treating it as a reality in our world is always the first step to combatting it. First, let’s just get this out there: suicide exists. Unlike popular opinion, it’s not just 20-somethings who have been mentally disturbed their whole life. In fact, the highest demographic affected by suicide is middle aged white men, according to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. It’s K-12 students who’ve been bullied, gone through trauma, or just dealt with undiagnosed mental illness. Our elderly population is not immune either. Though we have a schema for suicide, understanding that prevention goes far beyond a classroom or social media screen is extremely important. 

I’m not a doctor, a therapist, or even a volunteer for a mental health organization. The credibility I speak from is having gone through my own issues. Thus, I can’t sit here and say all the ways you can combat suicidal thoughts and tendencies. I can, however, talk about how I learned to live when all I wanted to do was die.

MY Suicide Prevention

I was talking very openly about death (a huge warning sign – follow this link for more info) even if I hadn’t begun to develop a plan. It was clear to those that loved me the most that I cared very little about things that happened in my life – good or bad. In fact, I was ready to disconnect from anything that made me feel committed. Speaking very candidly here, I started to imagine what other’s lives would be like without mine. Would they be better off? My anxieties pushed me to think so, but something about that felt wrong. I couldn’t imagine my baby brother talking about the sister he “used” to have. No matter how irritable, angry, or just confusing I had been I was still his big sister. 

I Started Talking

Thank you to HeartSupport for this graphic and the #InsteadILive campaign that inspired this blog!

The first time I said “I’m not okay” outloud was really difficult. I had been getting through the day, going through the motions, and crashing into rock bottom as time went on. When I finally let those words out of my body, it felt like a tidal wave. 

Talking about my depression, anxiety, and dark thoughts has been hugely therapeutic for me. Even now, speaking openly about things that might be uncomfortable has made me feel empowered to be exactly who I am. Speaking about thoughts that I had allowed my family and I to pinpoint some areas of my life that were at an absolute breaking point, even if I didn’t see them as such. When you’re talking about your feelings, you can also get to realizations faster than just keeping it all bottled up.

It was so hard for the people I love to hear me speak about life so apathetically, but it also allowed us all to work towards a healthy solution to the problem.

I Created

Courtesy of HeartSupport and the #InsteadILive campaign

If you guys couldn’t tell, I do have a blog. LOL. No, but I’ve been writing about mental health and those moments of pure mental anguish for a long, long time. Even before they were under the name “EmyD”. I also used song, dance, and art to express thoughts that I literally could not formulate into words. Throwing myself headfirst into hobbies allowed me to give a shit, for lack of a better term. When all else failed, I had something that actually made me feel productive and a bit more human.

Don’t get me wrong. There were days that I was so mentally exhausted I couldn’t get out of bed. The idea of “perking myself up with a painting” would have made me vomit. Let me tell you, though, learning to live for something is a game-changer. I couldn’t put all of that on my brother because it’s not fair, nor does it give me autonomy as a young woman. I had to learn how to love what I could say, do, write, and create all on my own. 

I Advocate

While I still have a mental illness, it’s been a long time since my mind has had a suicidal thought. It’s not because I’ve grown out of it or completely changed. Rather, it’s because I found value in life that I couldn’t see. I learned coping mechanisms for mental illness that only worsened it. Lastly, I learned that saying “I need help” doesn’t make you any less of a badass. 

These days, I still have really bad days. They come much more in frequently now. Between them are many really great days to ward off the darkness. But, I still have bad days. I advocate for people with mental illness and suicidal tendencies because living is the best decision I’ve ever made. 

I advocate now because six years ago, I needed someone else to advocate for me. I commit myself to preventing suicide in any way I possibly can on this National Suicide Prevention Day. Even when it gets dark and scary, I have to remind myself that I can defy the thoughts that want to put me down by saying, “Instead, I live.”

Thank you so much @HeartSupport for creating such an important initiative and constantly advocating for important things. Thank you, Taylor Palmby, for encouraging me to look into the #InsteadILive campaign!

Join the conversation on any of my socials or find valuable resources through HeartSupport!