Suicide Prevention Awareness Month – Sammy

Today’s piece is written by one of my best friends, Sammy. My friendship with Sammy is the kind where I  can genuinely say we know each other to our cores and I really mean that. I can’t say that about very many other people.

With Sammy (and my other best friend from home, Gina) I feel so lucky. They are two of the only people I have ever met that can truly empathize with my feelings and emotions in their entirety. There is just some sort of unspoken connection we have – I can’t explain it, but I know it’s there. There’s just no other way to describe how well we understand and relate to each other. Without them, I would be lost. Without them, I would literally think I was broken. 

Sammy is always the first person I reach out to when it comes to my blogging ideas. For one, she inspires my creativity unlike anyone else – she’s always pushing me to try harder. For two though, I know she has amazing words that are worth sharing. I always want her thoughts and experiences to be part of my projects.

When Sammy sent me this piece, she said, and I quote, “I feel like a fraud, it’s not really about suicide.”

I want to stress that statement because I feel like it brings up such a great point. I feel like there are so many instances where we allow ourselves to belittle our own feelings, convincing ourselves that they’re not worthy of being acknowledged because they may not be the “norm” or the “extreme”.

Part of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is acknowledging the fact that all experiences are different, but they are all equally as valid. Sammy’s experiences with suicidal thoughts are uniquely hers, as are everyone else’s. 

In my opinion, progress comes only after certain steps are taken. The first step is acknowledging that your feelings exist and are legitimate. The second step is voicing those feelings. Only after both of those steps, will you be able to accurately begin making positive change. 

It’s scary though! In most cases, it’s easier to brush off thoughts and emotions that we are struggling with. It’s easier to convince ourselves they’re not “bad enough” to be “real”. It’s easier to slide under the radar, silently grappling with our emotions, rather than acknowledging and vocalizing them. 

I can tell you from experience though, that the harder route brings so much more success and happiness. Your experiences and thoughts are so valid and they are so worth sharing. You are worth being cared for. You are worth progress and change. You deserve happiness.

Somehow, Sammy found the strength to share her words, regardless of the doubt and insecurity she initially expressed. I hope her words encourage some of you who may feel similarly to do the same. 

Check it out: 

I have this dream and it’s always the same. I’m in a mansion overlooking the ocean and the valleys of California. I walk through the french doors into the foyer, through the halls, until I’m standing where I can see the doors that lead to the back. The house is vacant and quiet but there is a woman outside in a long lace nightgown and long hair, both blowing in the wind. She’s standing on the balcony ready to leap into the unknown. I never see her face and I never try to save her, but I know who she is: she’s me. 

I need to emphasize something about this dream. It does not bring me satisfaction. It does not seem like an end to all my problems. It’s just one of many scenarios I craft up in my head when I want to end the thoughts and the sadness. 

I picture killing myself because it’s a way to picture killing the thoughts, but there is never a desire to kill me, the living human body form of me. I’ll keep the highs but I want to chuck the lows over a building, drown them in a tub, pour a bottle of pills down its throat until it is no more and I am left with only the positivity and the sanity that I know I am capable of. 

I was driving in the car the other day – the windows down, the music just right. It was one of those moments where I checked my surroundings and I felt the beauty of it all, this thing we called life. Fuck, I felt truly ALIVE. But then, the unsettling feeling came over me and my mind told me to cherish this moment for it would not be this way tomorrow. And guess what? My mind was right. The next day, I couldn’t look at myself. I felt ugly. I felt gross. I felt I couldn’t do anything right. I felt like a failure – living at home still, working the same job I told myself last year I’d get out of to find my dream job. I made all these promises to myself and where the fuck were they now? It didn’t matter yesterday that I hadn’t accomplished all my dreams yet, but my shortcomings sure as hell mattered the next morning, my mind said they did. So that is what I focused on all day. I sat in front of the TV smoking weed until I reached the kind of high where you just don’t: don’t think, don’t move, don’t talk. 

My depression is interesting. I know how loved I am, it never blocks that from me. Sometimes it will try but I am able to swat it away before it solidifies into an actual feeling. I know I am not a burden on others, and I know my passing would hurt many. I mean this, not because I think I’m the greatest human to walk this earth, but I have felt death and I have seen it break those who I love. I have watched and experienced the passing of others and that is partially the reason I battle depression in the first place. That and the fact that is has always lived in me in some way. 

I take these thoughts seriously. I’ve never taken them as my desires or my truth but I do take them very seriously. Suicide is not selfish, not when you know what is truly going on inside someone, but that does not make suicide the answer. Please seek help if you are hurting, and fight with every ounce of you to stop the thoughts from becoming actions. It is easier said than done, I know. Suicide is not the action to take. Kill the thoughts, not yourself. Every living soul is different and every case of depression is different, but I believe that suicide is always the same in the sense that it does not solve anything. It only passes the hurt along. 

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month – Chase

When Chase and I talked about the idea of him writing a piece for this month, I can honestly say I did not expect this outcome in the least. I mean that in two ways. First of all, his writing blew me away. But secondly, I was also almost angry at myself for not wholeheartedly understanding Chase’s relationship with his depression until now.

Chase is someone I’ve known for years. I’ve told him many times how I felt that, from such an early point in our friendship, it seemed so easy to be open and honest with him and his friends. We used to just get drunk sometimes and share some dark shit and it never seemed weird or uncomfortable. But how could I feel like I was able to be so honest with someone, yet simultaneously not realize the extent to which they’re struggling?

That’s the thing about depression and suicide though. Most people don’t realize the severity of other’s struggles, until, in some cases, it’s too late. That’s why I loved this piece, though. It’s such a perfect example of the complex relationship between inner demons and outside support.

Chase’s words and vulnerable and honest, but I don’t think I need to explain them much more than I already have because they truly speak for themselves. I hope, if nothing else, they’re a simple reminder that these feelings are so real and so valid. Without further ado, check it out:

You become so infatuated with the thoughts of being alone, having nothing, looking in the mirror and hating yourself. Day in and day out you wake up and hurt. You lay in bed, not wanting to lift your head from the pillow because the only time you feel at ease is when you dream. Fake smiles and fraud laughs make you seem okay, but deep down you just want to be in a dark room. Silence is your only friend.

This darkness has taken over my life for over a decade. The depression has never left me, it only comes and goes like summer storms. Sometimes there are rainbows at the end, and sometimes there are flooded streets – each time a different result.

When it comes, the storms bring lightning like slit wrists and broken knuckles. The thunder is multiple missed phone calls and voicemails from loved ones, crying for you to answer the phone. Torrential down pours where your mind seems unable to find any sort of happiness, leaving you aching to end your own life because you cannot bear to cope with the pains of everyday being. The occasional rainbow is your only hope at wanting to stay in this life – the only thing reminding you that it can be beautiful.

My depression has led to suicidal thoughts and actions. I was generally sad. I hated my mental and physical states and who I had become. My life, as it seemed to most people though, was a good life. Good guy, good health, good job, good friends, good family. Everything was fine. But I could never seem to see that. To me, the negatives outweighed the positives in all aspects. I was a whirlwind of hate, anger, self-harm, and sadness, believing that this world would be a better place if I could drown myself in the ocean and never be found.

That was my goal. On Thanksgiving of 2013. I was going to swim as far as I could, out into the sea. Far enough that I could not have the strength or willpower to swim back to land. Hoping I would eventually go delusional from hypothermia, my chest cavity churning with salt water. My mind and body would go numb and I’d sink to ocean’s floor where no one would find me. That’s what I thought I needed to make me feel at ease again. To feel whole.

I was stopped though, as thunder rolled in. One last voicemail that I would listen to before I made my attempt to swim out into the freezing waters of the Atlantic. The words that someone said to me still ring in my head. That night, I listened to those words again and again, repeating the voicemail over and over. The syllables silenced the provoking sounds of the waves crashing on the cold, hard sand, as I sat, ready to end this once and for all. As I contemplated my fate, those three words stuck, and the pain slowly drifted out to sea. The storm ended and this time the rainbow came.
Love conquers all.

Thank you,
Chase

MHAM Post #17: Someone I’m Lucky to Know

Sometimes you meet people that positively impact you when you’re least expecting it. That’s how I feel about the writer of this piece. 

When we first met, it felt easy from the start to share intimate details about each other. I told her about my family, and my fears, and my aspirations as if I had known her for years. 

When she told me that she was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, I actually felt more comfortable talking to her. Is that weird? For those of you who don’t know, my dad also has Borderline Personality Disorder. 

Getting to know this writer, in turn, helped me get to know my dad and for that I can’t thank her enough. 

Needless to say, her words are cool AF and I’m very lucky to share them here: 

Living with Borderline Personality Disorder is not beautiful.
Every day, it is fighting a battle every that I’m not sure I’m ever going to win.

Rewind seven years ago to when I was age 15. When I was first diagnosed. I was in a relationship with a male who physically and mentally abused me. One broken arm, scratched cornea, and a couple hospital visits later – I felt that I deserved it. I apologized for his mistakes, like the 6 times that he cheated on me. However, I was cheating on him as well… with multiple people both men and women. Living with borderline personality disorder is living with unstable relationships including the relationship that you have
with yourself.

For 8 years, I self-harmed. Attempting and thinking about suicide occurred very frequently. I felt that this was “normal” and when someone tried to tell me otherwise… it did not end well. My temper was out of control – one minute I would be cheerful and then the next, for whatever reason, I would be punching holes in walls and screaming things that never made
any sense. I have lost many friends due to my mental illness. Looking back on it now, I can understand why. I wasn’t a good friend and I wouldn’t have wanted to be my friend either. I was using the people around me for my own selfish reasons and I didn’t care. I was manipulating every single person in my life. When I was a senior in high school, one of my better friends committed suicide. As usual, no one saw it coming. I remember getting the news and feeling my heart break for the first time. This was a sadness I didn’t recognize. Being in a major depressive state was a constant in my life, but when this happened – it
was a sadness mixed with jealousy and confusion. I did not attend school for roughly 2 weeks after that. I wasn’t able to move. I remember my mom lied to my school and told them I was absent because I had mono. It was easier than explaining to them that I have BPD.

One of the biggest things that I personally face with BPD is dissociation. When I’m faced with certain situations in my life that trigger me to feel sad or nervous, I pretend like they don’t exist. I literally stop feeling and thinking about things entirely. I can’t control this and in turn, it has caused me to have an awful memory of even the good things that have
happened in my life. After I come out of a dissociative state, I often feel like I’ve grown into new skin. When I dissociate I leave everything about my life behind. I don’t talk to my friends, family, and I don’t leave my house. I don’t do anything. I’m just there physically but not mentally. Though my BPD is not as bad now as it used to be, every now and then I will dissociate. This has caused tremendous frustration with my college friends and it’s taken a lot of time to explain to them why I do this in order to help them better understand. If
there is one thing I have learned, it’s that BPD is a very confusing disease. You can never genuinely understand it unless you’re living with it. My family has supported me as best they can. However, I have an older brother who suffers from Bipolar 1 Disorder. He is also a heroin addict. Their focus has more so been on helping him throughout my life and in a twisted way, it’s actually helped me understand myself better.

College was my turning point. Freshman year I wasn’t necessarily in a good place because I didn’t have any friends and I dissociated a lot. Sophomore year, I decided to be an RA. I gained all these amazing and positive new people in my life. I also got into the nursing program at school because I realized that I wanted to help adolescents with mental illness. I wanted to be that person who was there for someone who felt alone – I wanted to help them understand that they are never alone no matte how alone they feel. Although I don’t know how it feels to be them, I want to try and understand. I know all too well how it feels to be misunderstood constantly. Junior year I was doing well. I stopped cutting and I dumped my loser abusive boyfriend (woohoo!) I had friends, true and genuine friends, for the first time in my entire life. I felt like I belonged somewhere. I fell in love with a woman. For the first time, I was in love…. and then senior year had its ups and downs. I got broken up with. That sent me into a depressive dissociative state. I started fucking around with a lot of people. Drinking too much. Almost… almost self-harmed again. I got to a really low point. Then I realized something: I have come so far since the beginning. I just recently graduated with my BSN in nursing. I have grown tremendously since I was that out of control 15-year-old girl. When I was at a low point… I wrote a poem:

That Unlovable Girl
I wonder when I will stop being “that girl”
That girl who had the bones in her wrists
severed by a boy with a thick temper
That girl who is into girls
That girl who is into guys
That girl who only fucks guys
That girl who is there,
palms open, ready to feed your loneliness
That girl who you have no intention of keeping,
but you still kiss her goodbye
That girl who fucked you as hard as she hated herself
That girl who swam on her back
through your bloodstream and decided to call it home

 “A day will come” my mother sighs,
“when you will find someone who knows how to love you”
That girl wonders how they know this,
where did they learn how to love her
Who taught them how to stitch every broken
piece of diamond back together
Where did they learn to dance with the chaos
that fills her raging and empathetic heart
Her quick wit and swollen fist full of apologies
“I promise you,” my mother says,
“every atom in your being will be enough.”

 My BPD has often caused me to feel unlovable. But I know that the only person who believes I am unlovable is myself. I now know that I am stronger than my mental illness. I will have days that totally suck, but I’m alive. Through everything, I am still fucking alive. My journey is to be cherished. Dark days are only dark if you believe they have to be. Paint your own fucking picture, write your own story, and know that whatever society tells
you is “wrong” with you – only makes you a whole lot brighter. Mental illness needs to be talked about more and the stigma needs to be broken. We are all compromised and we all have our own shit. I would be terribly boring without my mental illness. Who knows, I might wake up tomorrow and have a really shitty day; I might fall into a spiral. That’s okay though. I know the future is out here. 

http://www.bpdworld.org/helplines/usa-helplines.html