Break the Stigma

Suicide is an uncomfortable topic for many people, a topic that is very important but is bypassed all the time. The only way to break this stigma towards mental illness and suicide is to talk about it.

Recently, there were two well-known people who died by suicide. This blog post is for them, and all the other people who may not have been as well-known, but have also died by suicide. If you have lost anyone in your life to suicide, or if you have thought about it, or even if you’re thinking about it right now — this is also for you.

I’ll start by saying this: You are not alone. I want you to know, right now, that you aren’t alone and despite what you may think, you don’t have to go through this alone.

You may be thinking, “What makes you so qualified to say all of that?” While I’m no mental health professional, everything I share comes from my own experiences with mental health and suicide. I’ve found that I can start to break the stigma and help others shift their mindset by sharing what I’ve been through and what I continue to go through. So, here goes…

This is my story.

I’ve struggled with mental illness since I was a teenager, even before I ever put a name to it, or even thought about putting a name to it. I remember being as young as 13 years old, worrying about the normal things a 13 year old would worry about along with battling my own mind. As I got older, those battles became tougher and more heartbreaking.

Over the past 14 years there have been multiple accounts where suicide has crossed my mind, and other times where I truly believed that it was my only way out. I felt cornered by my own demons and was confident that nothing or no one would ever be able to help me. I was broken and I claimed that brokenness as my truth.

For the longest time, I believed that I was alone. I thought I was the only one who felt the way I did — the only one who struggled with things that seemed like nothing to others. I chose to keep everything to myself. I never revealed too much because I didn’t want others to think any less of me or label me as “crazy.” At the time, that seemed like a good idea, but ended up making things worse in the long run.

The higher I built my walls, the more I thought about suicide and let my depression and anxiety define my life. I have planned my own death by suicide and have written a good-bye note more than once… Yet I could never go through with it. Each time, no matter how close I was to following through with my plans, I found something or someone worth staying for.

It wasn’t until about a year and a half ago that I decided to break down my walls and put a name to the things I was struggling with: depression and anxiety. It was only then that I finally found the help I needed. It took everything in me and more to begin my road to recovery, but by the love and grace of God along with the understanding and support from my mentors, I took the first steps. I started and am continuing to get help, because after trying for so long, I know that I can’t get out of this by myself.

The beginning was the toughest. I didn’t want anyone to find out that I was on anti-depressants and started going to therapy. There were times where I didn’t want to take the meds or go to my session, but even so, I still followed through. Finding help wasn’t enough, I still had to put in work and help myself. That meant being honest with my doctor and therapist and doing more outside of my appointments and sessions. I learned that I get out whatever I put in — if I put in the bare minimum, I would get the bare minimum and that would prevent me from healing.

Why am I saying this? Why am I revealing information I was ashamed of for so long? Because I know that there are so many others going through the same thing, and some of those people are at their ends, looking for hope. If that’s you… Please, stay. Please take this as a sign of hope and keep going. Take a moment to really look at and process all that you’ve been through — I promise that you are so much stronger than you think.

I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it: I can’t promise that things will get better, but you’ll never know if you don’t keep going.

You don’t have to go through any of this alone. Reach out to the ones you love and trust. Find a counselor. Find a therapist. Find someone who will listen and help you out of your darkness. You may feel alone, like no one understands or cares, but you’re wrong. I want you to stay and I know that there has to be at least one person in your life who thinks the same.

The world has lost too many beautiful, smart, capable, loving, amazing people to suicide; please don’t let the world lose you, too.

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