September happens to be National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and I’m proud to say I was able to participate in an event this past weekend. It took place at Mt. Trashmore in Virginia Beach, Virginia and was hosted by the Hampton Roads Morning of Hope-a depression and suicide prevention organization.
My mom has been attending the walking event for about three years now and has always asked me to join her. This year I was for sure to make it happen no matter what. Although I did not quite appreciate the disrespectful hot and sweaty weather, the experience is definitely one to remember!
It was like a huge festival with hundreds of happy and great spirited people, multiple activities, plenty of food, great music, each branch of the military, numerous speakers, positive vibes, motivational posters throughout the course, etc. The part I loved the most and learned about was the Wall of 1000 Cranes. Apparently walking through a wall of 1000 origami cranes will bring you everything you hope for. As origami cranes symbolize “hope” in Japan.
A few people were present to tell their stories about losing their loved ones to suicide and I must say, it was pretty eye opening for me. At one point I thought how could I had even tried to take my own life so many times without considering my family’s pain? But then again, I’m sure they would have been able to understand eventually.
These people weren’t aware of mental illnesses before they came face to face with it. They all stated how they “brushed it off” and never thought about it impacting their loved ones so close to them. They blamed themselves for the aftermath and that to me was hard to witness while they were speaking. I only say that because I would never want my family to think my decisions of such acts is their fault.
The signs are not always there as most of the time, they’re not meant to be there. Suicidal people don’t make it obvious they’re in that state of mind and if they do, they’re not really suicidal- they’re just doing a “cry for help”. Not being sarcastic but that’s literally what it is. They feel it’s the only way but they’re too afraid to act on it so they freeze before they can do any serious harming. I only know this because I recently took a Mental Illness and Suicide course during my free time and it made a lot of sense.
A suicidal person is going to try to appear as normal as possible and without warning, commit or at least attempt suicide. During my attempts I never brought attention to myself and I never made it known leading up towards them. Plus, there’s only been three attempts my family had been aware of only due to the local police being involved. I had never made other attempts known until this blog or to two or three trusted friends.
When I made the decisions in the past, I didn’t take days to plan out what I was going to do- I thought it out a few hours prior…
Days leading up I would just cry all day. Crying in the shower, taking breaks at work to cry in the restroom or in my car, crying during my commute to work or home, crying myself to sleep for days. I wouldn’t eat until I’d become annoyed by my stomach growling so much but then I’d have to force myself to eat. I would watch people call my phone and text back to back and I wouldn’t answer. I would sleep all day when I wasn’t working or I’d request to work more to not be home.
I knew something wasn’t right with me each time. The sick feeling in my stomach alone was just more than enough to me. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. And then I would sit and think about how my troubles could be resolved. The thing is, I’d never exactly know what my troubles were. It was just the feeling that took over each and every time. A feeling of darkness and hopelessness for no apparent reason at all.
A lot of family and friends would just always assume my issues were financially but my finances never got me to the point of suicide. Most of the time it was due to feeling like a failure and having absolutely no way to even begin to get on the right path to success. Most of the time it was due to knowing I was “different” mentally but I couldn’t figure out why. Most of the time it was due to trying to figure out my purpose in life and still not knowing til this very day.
Why did these things get me to the point of suicidal thoughts? I don’t know and it’s something I’ll never be able to know or understand. What I do know- my depression and suicide attempts were well beyond what people assumed.
I would always be referred to as “crazy” and “weak” but if only those uneducated individuals knew. I would feel ashamed and offended but then I started to realize there was no need to be. Those people had never been in a dark place and therefore I never expected them to ever be able to understand my actions.
Later I begin to find out some of the same people who frowned upon suicide have experienced the same thoughts. They have been in a dark place and may even still be there today. They’re too afraid to address the matter because they don’t want to be seen as any less of a human. They want to believe they can treat it themselves without seeking help of professionals and those are the ones who will suffer more than ever.
As I stated before, it is okay to seek professional treatment. It is okay to not be perfect. It is okay to have feelings of darkness. It is okay to have a mental illness.
It is okay.
The first step is to get out of denial and accept it for what it is and then get help and advice before it is too late.