It’s World Suicide Prevention Day today. If you’ve been around these parts for a while, you know my story and my multiple brushes with death by suicide. This year, I didn’t want to rehash those stories. You can always go to the archive and read them if you wish and I encourage you to do so.
This year, I want to take a look back at what the last year has been like, how I’ve grown as a person and how my advocacy moved from this blog and Facebook, out into the real world. I’ve made so many new friends this year in the local mental health scene and I’m probably more proud of that than anything. These people are warriors. Each and every one of them. They all have incredible stories of heartbreak, fear, pain, loss, resilience, courage, and strength.
Last year, I was a part of an event that changed my life. The event was put on by my local NAMI chapter. It was a Kevin Hines event. If you don’t know who Kevin Hines is, I encourage you to pick up his book “Cracked Not Broken,” here. His story is absolutely incredible and he tells it best. A lot has changed in my life since the last time I wrote about suicide prevention and how much this cause means to me.
After that Kevin Hines event, everything seemed to go in an entirely new direction. My story took off, as a matter of speaking. I was able to tell Kevin a little about my story at the event and give him a hug (this was obviously pre-COVID). Almost right after that, my local NAMI got into contact with me and asked me if I wanted to partner with them. Since then, I’ve been able to tell my story of a suicide attempt survivor trying to live mentally well, and in some ways, I feel, at least on a small scale, I’m making my hero, Kevin Hines, proud.
A couple months ago, I woke up and discovered something: That I am doing exactly what I feel I need to. I’m fulfilled in this work and it makes me feel I’m making a difference. I’m no longer content to sit on the sidelines, typing away on a keyboard. While my blog is a large part of my advocacy, this last year has shown me the importance of showing up, making my presence known and my voice heard.
I’ve gone through hell and back and I want everyone around me to know that they matter. I want to be that someone that I desperately needed when I was at my lowest. Someone devoid of the toxic positivity that so often plagued my friend group at the time (they’ve all since grown and have become mental health warriors along with me). Someone who can acknowledge the hard truth that yes, life does suck. Your depression is real. Your suicidal ideation is something that we should talk about.
I’m doing this all the while having to pay extra attention to my own mental health. I was on solid footing before COVID-19 ever came along, and I’ve been able to, for the most part, maintain being mentally well throughout the pandemic. But I’m finding that may get more difficult as fall rolls around and the days get shorter. I’m someone who’s incredibly susceptible to seasonal depression, and this year’s already no different. The past few days have been in the 50’s and raining here, and for the duration, I’ve felt a tightness in my chest and I’ve been lethargic to a high degree.
But I think I’ll be okay. No toxic positivity here, it’s just what I feel in my bones. And I trust by bones more than anything else.
For you, I hope life is treating you well. I know, for many of you, this year feels like another gut punch almost every day. Some of you may be on the edge as you read this. Please know that I’ve been there. I know there is no quick fix. I know recovery is hard work and it takes time. But I also know that it has been worth it in my own life.
Growing up, my parents took my brother and me on long, cross-country road trips. I simply loved them. I loved being in the car for sixteen hours at a time. I loved road food, Casey’s Pizzas, seedy motels, driving through the never-ending flatness of Nebraska and enjoying the peaks of the Rockies in Colorado. Every summer, I was blessed to go on one of these grand journeys.
Recovery is like that: It’s a journey, as well. There’s mighty peaks and long times of flatness. There’s seasons of seedy motels before you get to spend the night at the Four Seasons. But as beautiful as the purple mountain majesty, my recovery has to be to date, the most challenging, rewarding, and encouraging journey I’ve ever been on.
It’s an experience I wouldn’t trade.
So, today and every day, I echo my hero, Kevin Hines’ motto: Be Here Tomorrow.