I’m not going to lie. I’ve been suicidal a handful of times in my past and have had a couple serious attempts. I also struggle with suicidal ideation – those abstract thoughts not about wanting to die as much as just being so exhausted from struggling to live. There have been so many times I have laid in bed sobbing, convinced I could not make it one more day.
These days, though I am still struggling with my mental health, I try to keep both active suicidal thoughts and suicidal ideation at bay. Someone very dear to me almost lost one of their parents to suicide when they were a teenager. They were the one who found them, who had to try to revive them and call 911. Over a decade later, though their parent survived, they are still dealing with the aftermath. Whenever thoughts of suicide or suicidal ideation creep into my mind, I think of all that they went through and tell myself that I could never do that to my own children, that I could not break their hearts like that.
For a while now, whenever someone has asked what keeps me going or why I haven’t given up, that has been my answer. My children. I love them more than I could even put into words and I would never want to hurt them like that. There have been many times that my life has felt so hopeless, so horrible, that they were my only reason to keep going, my only reason to hold on. I loved them too much to hurt them by giving up.
However, I saw something recently that threw everything on its side and turned my world upside down. It was one of hundreds of little images that scroll along my social media feeds everyday. Normally, while sitting online chatting with friends, I scroll by dozens of images like it, half-reading them as my attention strays elsewhere. This one, however, not only grabbed my attention but shook me to the core. It said:
Suicidal people deserve better than to be told the main reason they shouldn’t kill themselves is because of how it might affect others. Suicidal people deserve love and help, not guilt trips. Suicidal people deserve to feel like their life is worth living, for their own sake.. for their own happiness, their own experiences, their own possibilities, their own future.
I’ve been chalking my own battles with suicide as a victory merely because I have managed to push them aside and keep them at bay because I don’t want to hurt my own children. Somehow that no longer feels like enough. What if, heaven forbid, something ever happened to my children and I didn’t have them anymore as my reason to keep going? Was I just going to throw in the towel, give up, lay down and die? As much as I love my children, they cannot be my only reason to keep living, to keep fighting, to keep going on. I deserve better than that. They deserve better than that, too.
Right now, I am struggling in many aspects of my life. I am dealing with a lot of personal issues above and beyond the ongoing battle of living with mental illness. There are many days that I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread as my world continues to crumble at my feet. I’m not going to lie and say that everything is peachy in my life because nothing could be farther from the truth. I’ve spent too many years lying and convincing everyone that everything was okay as I was falling apart inside. I cannot live like that anymore. My life is a mess right now, but I own it. It is MY mess.
But within the jumbled mess I call my life, I must find my own reasons to hold on, my own reasons to keep living, my own reasons to keep fighting, keep going and not give up. I must learn to love myself enough that I do not want to hurt MYSELF the way that I’ve kept saying I don’t want to hurt my children. I must learn to appreciate myself and all I have to offer. I must plan for a future that I’ll be proud to live and aim for goals that will give me a sense of fulfillment for my own sake. I need to get to a place where I am living for MYSELF and not because I don’t want to hurt someone else.
That is easier said than done. It is easier for me to keep living for my children than to keep living for myself because in all honesty I love them more than I ever loved myself. I have a long way to go. I am just learning to like myself. But it is a journey I must take and a goal I must meet. One day, when I talk about all those times when life felt so horrible that I wanted to give up and someone asks me what kept me going, I want to be able to say “I kept going because I loved myself too much to hurt myself like that” and truly mean it with all my heart.
Until then, I’ll hold on however I have to and keep going, keep fighting because I can’t give up.
But one day, I WILL get there.
Because I owe it to myself to live for myself.