This is National Suicide Prevention Week.
I have never known anyone who committed suicide, nor have I attempted to commit suicide myself.
But I’ve thought about it for a very, very long time. I’ve thought about it seriously. I’ve thought about how – but mostly I’ve obsessed about why, why it would make everything better for everyone.
I have considered suicide the best solution.
But not today.
Today I know that suicide as a solution is one of the lies that depression tells me. I don’t know why there is a part of my brain that hates me enough to whisper such evil, but I know that it is there. I know it can’t be trusted. And I know, now, how to recognize that voice from the voice of truth.
I know how to prevent my own suicide.
I know that it takes work. Constant vigilance. And help.
I cannot fight off the lies by myself. I don’t believe anyone who has depression can hold it off alone.
Connection is not an option. It’s a requirement.
I know now that when suicide comes up as a possible solution, I’m not well. Suicide is not a logical option for a healthy brain. But even with that knowledge, I can’t shut that cycle down alone.
I have to tell someone.
It is not an easy thing to admit to someone that you are trying to decide if your children would benefit more from your life insurance or your continued physical presence. It is worse than embarrassing. It is both humiliating and hurtful. It means opening yourself up to the judgment that you are selfish or begging for attention. It means saying out loud that you are not like everyone else. It means saying to someone you care about that you’ve thought about leaving them.
But as hard as it is to say the words out loud, it’s the only way I’ve found to shut the little voice up and shut the plan down.
In order to do that, I have to be connected with someone who can hear those words. I have to have trust in the bank with them. I have to have practiced showing up so that I have the guts to do it when it means the most.
Connecting doesn’t just stop me from being lonely. It keeps me alive.
Taking my medicine keeps me alive, too.
I’ve been taking an anti-depressant since 2007. I’ve had to make adjustments to the type and the dosage, but the need for medication has remained constant. I believe it always will.
People ask me sometimes if, now that I’ve learned so much about how to be happy, I will stop taking my medicine. But my medicine doesn’t make me happy. My medicine brings me up to ground zero so that I have the chance to be happy. My medicine stops me from thinking suicide makes sense.
I’ve learned in the last year or so just how important my medicine is. I take two pills a day (because I am too cheap to spring for the time-release version), and sometimes I forget to take the afternoon pill. I tell myself it will be fine, that one or two pills won’t make a difference. And then it does.
I can’t screw around with my health. I may not like that I’m a fragile flower, but I am. I have to take care of me in exactly the way that my mind and body demand.
Mental and physical health is essential to preventing my own suicide.
It also helps that I know the signs.
I know what depression looks like for me, and I’ve accepted that depression is part of my normal. I can skip past denial and anger and get to taking care of myself when I notice that I’m sleeping too much, watching too much TV, and avoiding work. If I pay attention, I can stop the voices long before suicide is brought to the table.
This is how I am preventing suicide, this week and every week. Through connection, medication, awareness and acceptance. This is what keeps me alive.
Do you need help figuring out how to prevent your own suicide? Reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.