I didn’t know it was #SuicideAwareness month, but I really think I want to participate in breaking the silence surrounding that sort of thing.
I’ve noticed that people are often genuinely surprised by my willingness to casually talk about suicide and the times that I have been suicidal. In fact, around the beginning of the semester, I was having a casual conversation with one of my close professors in his office, and we were talking about how I was doing emotionally as opposed to how I was doing when I was very suicidal in March. At some point in our conversation, the professor who was in the nearest cubicle actually interrupts us to let us know that she thinks that our conversation wasn’t one that we should be having in the office. I finished up the conversation with my professor who I could tell was seething on the inside at the audacity of the other professor, and I walked back to my dorm.
That situation caused me to spend some time reflecting on why people actively work to ensure that the silence surrounding mental health and mental illness remains unbroken. I’ve always had a hard time putting myself in the shoes of someone who is so quick to defend the systematic oppression of groups of people. I guess if I try really hard, then I am able to empathize to some degree since I do understand what it is like to believe in the silence. Especially when, that’s what I understood to be true as a child.
However, the reality is that we can’t help others in silence. I would be dead today if everyone remained silent, and if I had remained silent in my plight.
Back in March, I was teetering on the edge of making the decision to take my own life. Everything was adding up, and life had become a burden for me that was only getting heavier on my back. I can’t even remember why I decided to post to Facebook about wanting to die, and if I think about it I guess it must have been some kind of survival mechanism. I think that deep inside I still felt like I had so much more to offer the world and I truly wasn’t ready to die.
What if I didn’t make that post? What if I didn’t reach out? The answer to those two questions is a blunt statement; I would be dead.
Within a couple of minutes of my post, Darian Aaron and Samantha Master reached out to me. Even though I was resistant to their help, they didn’t stop trying to save me.
I guess the best analogy that I have to describe all this (I love analogies; they make me happy) is that I was drowning in the ocean, and I still fired a flare gun even though I had accepted that I was going to drown, and even reached a place where I wanted to drown. Within minutes, Darian and Samantha showed up with their boats, and instead of accepting their help I fought them off. My resistance didn’t deter them; it only made them work even harder to try to save me. Once they pulled me onto their boat, both of them were completely willing to detach one of their lifeboats and help me build my own boat.
Darian and Samantha weren’t silent, and that saved my life. I can’t ever thank them enough for what they did for me. Today, I am alive with my own boat, and I have had the opportunity to see myself become the person that I thought I could never be back in March. I have been able to realize some of my dreams, even ones that I once believed to be unattainable.
It’s so very important for us all to collectively break the silence surrounding mental illness. It’s real and if affects so many lives. There’s far too much stigma surrounding it than there ought to be. Sometimes, all someone needs is another person who is willing to give them a hand and let them know that they don’t have to be alone. I know that’s what I needed.
Thanks again Darian and Samantha. I love you and everything you’ve done for me.