I remember driving over the Gold Star bridge as a child (the summer before the fifth grade), on the way to an art fair with my mom, and seeing him. He appeared to be standing on the opposite side of the fence of the bridge, and if I remember correctly he was wearing shorts. My mom tried to quickly divert my attention, but it burned in my memory, and I couldn’t stop talking about it. I came up with a million reasons that day that he was on and on the bridge like that; maybe his friend fell over,maybe he was a spy, maybe he was a bungee jumper, maybe he was repairing the fence. I never had confirmation about what he was doing, or what he did. Eventually I found out the truth, and discovered the word “suicidal.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. I never thought a fifth grader and a man on the ledge would have so much in common.
For years leading up to seeing the man on the ledge I had been suicidal, without even knowing it. The thoughts started back to my adoptive mom passing when I was three, and finding out she was dead two years later. I didn’t quite understand what my social worker was telling me, and my foster family didn’t provide the most comfort, but I remember thinking how I wished more than anything I could join her, and be with her again. I vividly remember my foster dad watching Star Trek, and seeing a shooting scene, an over dramatized death, and wishing it could be me, passing on.
Even after I was adopted into my new, loving home, I couldn’t get the thoughts to go away. For a while they were passive. I didn’t really fit in with the children in my school, and that made me want to die a lot. Sometimes I thought about walking out of my classroom in elementary school, and running into the busy street our school was on. I thought about jumping off the top of the swings and breaking my neck, or sometimes leaping from a classroom window. This continued for years, until the week of my senior year of high school, when I started planning my suicide actively. I had opened up to my mother about my feelings, and she brought me to the hospital. The doctor asked if I had ever thought about killing myself. Immediately I said yes. He asked how, and I watched my mother’s face of disbelief as I listed off the countless ways I had considered hurting myself, as if listing off my favorite songs. I didn’t know that this wasn’t how everyone else was feeling, I didn’t know there was anything wrong with wanting to kill yourself. It was my comfort. That’s when my mother discovered a huge truth about being suicidal; children who are so young can think about thoughts this dark.
The thoughts came again when I had started college. They slowly creeped into my mind, like a familiar stranger. Again, the ideations were very passive; I could jump out my dorm window, what if I stepped into traffic, what if I took too many pills and just didn’t wake up? Depression got the worst of me in college, and I dropped out after one semester, at the age of seventeen. That’s when suicide really took a hold of me. I started cutting, not deep, but enough to punish myself and feel the pain. I engaged in fights with strangers, and sometimes even my boyfriend, in hopes I’d be beat to death. I would take a cocktail of pills, only to wake up with a medical hangover the next day. Nothing seemed to do the trick; I was constantly putting myself in harms way, and constantly trying to die, but still woke up. I finally sought out medical treatment, and again, I thought I was cured.
Time passed; I became a mother and a wife. I became a responsible adult. Dropping out of college and my reckless behavior was behind me. However, the suicidal thoughts weren’t. To this day I live with a dark shadow, always following me; my suicidal thoughts. They might just be whispers some days, a daydream of ending my life. Other days they might be screams, and wanting to start planning or relapse into pass behaviors. I’m medicated still, and I have a great treatment plan, but the suicidal thoughts still linger.
I think being suicidal is a taboo subject, and is often not touched upon. It’s seen in the media often, but rarely is accurately displayed (I honestly think the use of suicide in most media is a sales tactic for a shock factor versus bringing light to a very painful, very real subject). We often see suicide in cases such as Romeo and Juliet; two star crossed lovers not getting their ways, and killing themselves. While yes, events can trigger suicidal thoughts/actions, often times it’s a feeling that has lasted a lot longer than a few hours. It’s rarely a spur of the moment feeling. Suicide starts with ideations; the thoughts of, I could not wake up today, and that would be okay with me. It develops into intent, which is self harming behaviors, which leads into actions; the actual act of suicide. A lot of people live with suicidal thoughts for years before making a move. You don’t have to be harming yourself to be suicidal. Being suicidal is a state of mind, and one not a lot of us can escape.
I’m openly living with suicidal ideation; and while I may not be actively harming myself, it is still a very real, scary, and dangerous state of mind, that needs to be talked about. I have become the man on the ledge; and while I may not be standing on a bridge, I’m constantly in between a state of stability and insanity.
Taylor Nicole is a young author and mother based out of New England. Taylor is a foster care advocate, as well as a mental health advocate. She is a frequent blogger, and her memoir “Free Tayco” is set to be released April 7, 2017!