For many years of my life I lived with and suffered from depression. I had an inability to open up about my emotions and the trauma I had experienced early on in life. At thirteen I was in a life changing car accident. An accident that forever made me different but at thirteen no one wants to be different, no one wants to be pushed off that cliff into a sea of change so forcefully and abruptly. So I did what I thought was the best thing to do. I buried everything, every feeling, every emotion and every memory. In doing so I unintentionally isolated myself from the rest of the world. All I had left were myself and my thoughts and at times those thoughts took me to very dark places.
For nine years I managed to survive and function by compartmentalizing my trauma, grief, loss and worsening mental illness. At twenty-two I came to a point were I couldn’t hide it any longer. The emotions I had kept dormant for so long were bubbling up inside of me like tumultuous lava on the verge of erupting. It was at twenty-two when I hit rock bottom and couldn’t ignore my trauma or depression any longer. I finally sought out the help that I desperately needed for almost a decade.
It was in therapy that I was finally able to start to chip away at the icy fortress I had built around myself. Slowly and delicately with the help of my therapist we began to thaw away at all the pain and unearth all the emotions I had kept buried for so long. Talking about my trauma and about my depression freed me from a prison in my mind that I had locked myself away in all those years ago.
Opening up was scary. It left me vulnerable. It was hard and it was a process. But in doing so my life was again changed but this time for the better. I became a new person, a better person. I was stronger and more confident. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders.
Soon speaking became contagious. For the first time I felt connected to others. For the first time I realized I wasn’t alone. So I kept sharing my story and my emotions without any shame or reservations. However there has been one topic that inhabited my mind, which I refrained from speaking about. A topic that is such a taboo I didn’t know to approach it. I have decided that it is time that I break the silence on the last lingering secret from my adolescent mind- suicide.
Suicide is hard to talk about. It is hard for so many reasons. Suicide is painful, it is confusing, it is a symptom of illnesses that people are not ready to talk about. But we have to talk about it, even if it is difficult.
But how do we begin to approach this subject? I am not entirely sure I know the best way. I don’t think that any of us do. So I have decided the only way that I can talk about it, is to share my own personal experience. My story about suicide might not seem typical. But then again there is nothing typical about suicide.
Like mental illnesses, suicide and suicidal ideation are complex and different for everyone who experiences it. So this is my disclaimer. What I am about to share is in no way how I feel everyone views or experiences suicide. This is simply my story and I am sharing it because I hope that somewhere out there in the vastness of this planet there is someone who reads this and can relate. I share this so anyone who feels the way I felt knows that they are not alone.
In the darkest days of my depression I thought about death and suicide often but I never wanted to die. The problem was that I didn’t want to be alive either. I felt so alone in this world. I felt alienated and misunderstood. I thought that my very existence was a flaw in the intricate web of this universe. I thought that I was never meant to be here.
Death fascinated me and scared me at the same time. It was mysterious and unknown. I spent a lot of time wondering what was on the other side. Was there an afterlife? Was there nothing? Or was it something in between? I let these thoughts run rampant through my mind. In the end I didn’t know. I had no idea what death would bring and that scared me. I decided that death wasn’t a place I wanted to go, but I didn’t want to live either. So where did that leave me?
It left me trapped in a state of limbo, being both afraid to live and afraid to die. It left me fantasizing about death but not in the way one might typically think of it, but as a potential for another life, another existence where I felt like I fit in. Where I thought I belonged.
It was only in therapy that I was able to regain control of mind and identify these thoughts for what they really were- intrusive lies. I did belong on this Earth; I had a place and a purpose. I discovered passion and an appreciation for life I didn’t even know existed.
For so long I kept my suicidal thoughts secret because I didn’t want people to misunderstand. I didn’t want to kill myself but that didn’t mean I didn’t think about it. I felt that I didn’t have a right to share this story because unlike others, I had never attempted suicide so I thought it wasn’t my place to talk about.
However, I believe that there are so many people out there like me, who just because they never put a plan into action, still felt the torment of intrusive and manipulative suicidal thoughts.
Despite what the stigmas may say, suicidal thoughts are not anyone’s fault. They are not a choice. I never enjoyed thinking about death or suicide. The thoughts just infiltrated my mind and they aren’t something that you can just turn off. These thoughts are the result of an illness that we need to address, that we need to talk about. It is a conversation that our society needs to have, a scary conversation but that’s what makes it even more important. It is a conversation that will save lives.
Liv Raimonde is a mental health blogger and healthy living advocate. She is devoted to ending the silence and stigma associated with mental illness through writing and by sharing stories of her own personal battle with depression and anxiety. You can learn more about who she is and what she stands for at silencethestigma.org