Yesterday I participated in the Out of the Darkness Community Walk at a town in North Carolina where I live. It was a two and a half hour trek. Lasst year I also walked with my dad. It was in September and much hotter here in the south – in the nineties. I know. Yuck. It was so hot that I got heat stroke. But I was heavier and less in shape a year ago which could have also contributed. I remember breaking down when the former country band “Alabama” sang, I believe there are angels among us. I thought of my former roommate in California who saved my life by calling for an ambulance. That was the first time I tried to kill myself. That was the first time that it didn’t make sense, that no one could understand it or me. It just was.
Earon saved my life and I will be forever greatful. She is my guardian angel. Without her I would be dead. How do you thank someone for that? There is no way. Nothing is enough. The vocabulary doesn’t contain enough words. So, on Facebook sometimes I hit her up with a message calling her my angel, because she is.
The walk is also particularly hard for me because I think of those I would have left behind has I died any of the multiple times I have tried. There are speakers who give astronomical numbers of people who have died in the country and in my state. It all feels senseless, to leave everyone behind – so hurt, with so many tears and anniversaries. This is not an anniversary I want to leave them with. They tell us that suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in America. It wakes me up, makes me realize that there are too many that people I would hurt if I died that way. I know this sounds trite, but what about my dogs, always waiting for my return. Not understanding where I’ve gone and why and when I would be back.
I’d like to promise you that I will never try again but all the other times I was out of my mind. I didn’t know what happened. One minute my feet are in the pool, the next I am drugged out on the linoleum. One minute I am a pretty smiling face looking into a camera on my phone then posting it on Facebook an hour later, I go into the hospital. So yeah, most of the time I don’t remember what I was thinking or why. I just do shit and even then, being hospitalized, hurts those who love me.
And that is kind of how it is for all of us who act on suicidal thoughts – we aren’t thinking about everyone we will hurt. We are living in this temporary limbo where what we probably feel is pain or hopelessness or both and there isn’t enough room in there, in our minds, to think of everyone else.
I encourage you to raise money or at least attend and walk in an Out of the Darkness Walk in support of the cause. Also, read up on some of the stats in you state and figure out what you can do to help. For me it was writing my book, “There Comes a Light: A Memoir of Mental Illness” and doing talks and readings. I haven’t always been this open about my illness, but as the nonprofit This is My Brave states – Storytelling Saves Lives. And though it may be scary or uncomfortable, share your story. You will be amazed by how many people knows someone with bipolar disorder or who know something personal about suicide.