If you are looking for a sign, this is it.
Put your plans on hold. Do not step off the ledge, do not take action, do not cause harm to yourself, do not drive your car into a wall, do not attempt suicide.
Please. Just because I am asking you to, if you can find no greater will, just wait. Wait a day, a week, a month, a year, whatever amount of time you can grasp onto right now. Read this blog post, and wait.
I am not going to lie, I am shaking as I write this right now. Today, someone reached out to me on Instagram. They reached out to me and shared their story with me. They barred their pain. They took off the mask, and they opened up. They told me, that my post kept them alive this weekend.
They told me, because of me, they decided to wait. They thanked me.
I am crying, and my soul is welled up with gratitude and tears and life. I am so so so humbled. Had I gone through with my suicide plans, they might have lost their battle too. What a butterfly effect...
I have been kicking myself for not posting regularly on social media, we all know its good for SEO and algorithms. Between a major spinal surgery, life, and the chaos of 2020 I just have not made the time for it. Because of that, a post from a few months back was still showing up at the TOP of my feed. A post with a semicolon symbol. A post that saved someone's life.
I share this with you all today, to remind you how IMPORTANT it is to share your story. To speak up, to use your voice. I have like 400 followers on my business Instagram page, and most of them are friends and family. I don't get a lot of comments. I don't get a lot of likes. The post in question had a total of 6 likes. Yet look at what it's done? I post, in hopes that someday I will have more of a following. More then that, I post to share my heart. Instagram is like a journal for me, a document of my passions and travels though the birth space, the world of birth work, motherhood, and life. I post, because I believe in the power of words, and the power of testimony. I post because I have something to say. This is proof, that even when we think our reach hits dead air and solid walls, we can touch more then we will ever know...
Suicide awareness is deeply important to me. The semicolon project, is close to my heart. Here is a link to my post from that day:
In the post, I briefly share about the impact words can have, the importance of talking about suicide, and I offered a bit of my heart to anyone in pain.
I want to elaborate here, now.
The semicolon, is a symbol. It does not represent those who we have tragically lost to suicide. It represents those who we haven't. Those who found the strength, the will, the terribly complex action that allowed them- to keep living. It is a symbol of strength.
It is a powerful reminder that:
-You are not alone.
-Many many people have shared in this struggle.
-It is not impossible to survive this.
-Your story is not over yet.
and MOST importantly it is a symbol of life.
Where someone could have placed a period, and ended their life... Instead, they chose to keep living, to go on. They place a semicolon, symbolizing that their story is not over, this sentence is not over; it goes on.
Your story does not have to be over.
Your sentence doesn't have to be done.
I am not going to preach to you, about why suicide is wrong. There is no judgment here. There is no shame. I am here as a friend, as an advocate, as a survivor of the very same impulse.
To remind you that your life is valuable. To remind you that your story, is going to matter one day. To remind you, and beg you, to consider time.
Sometimes, in the moment, finding a will to live through this pain- is impossible. You see no other options. You feel hopeless. You are hurting, or tired, or ashamed. So I do not call you to remember your value, or to consider the consequences. Those arguments mean little to someone in true pain or fear or exhaustion.
No, I am here to give you the smallest and lowest handlebar to hold onto. That of time. It only takes a little reach. Stop the car. Put down the pills. Breathe one more breath. And then one more. And then one more. And then one more. Breathe. Walk. Live. Stop. Postpone. I am here to remind you, that suicide is (unfortunate) always an option for our fragile human selves, but not one you have to take today. Not right now. Consider time. Consider waiting.
Consider waiting an hour, a day, a week, a month. Keep pushing it back when it gets too close.
There is always time to die. There will be a time to die for each of us. Test out the theory of time. Instead of making this moment your last, just wait a while. See what happens. While you wait, reach out and tell someone what you are struggling with. And if they do not respond well, reach out again. and again. I promise, you WILL find someone who can listen. Someone who can help. Someone who cares. Just keep taking one more breath.
One day, you will look back on all of those small times you decided to keep breathing, and you will be so grateful that you decided to give it time.
Giving it time, is the number one most helpful plan to someone in these moments. It doesn't take a lot of strength to wait. It only takes a little. It works with depression and anxiety. I daresay it might even work in some cases of psychosis.
It takes too much strength sometimes to imagine the future, to hope, to view happiness as a possibility again. To consider others, to consider any other option. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone struggling with suicide, is to remind them that this does not have to happen right now. Suicide often times is either an impulse or a plan. An impulse, can be hindered with time. Time brings new people, new experiences, new perspective, and hopefully new hope and healing. A plan, can be postponed, and time can bring the same things.
When they say time heals all wounds, I think we get too caught up in the disbelief of the healing, the impossibility of making it that far, that we forget the most powerful part of the phrase. Time. Time is now, its one minute, its one more moment. Just hold onto time. Watch a clock tick by, watch the night turn to day, to night, to day. Pretty soon, you can see, you chose life. That moment you were going to end it all, you chose life. Even if it was only a second ago, or a week ago, that's a big deal.
When you can see that, oh, maybe there was a little bit of strength inside me afterall, in that moment. I didn't end it. I chose to wait... that is something.
That thought and feeling can give you that small boost you need to walk forward a bit more. It is the start of a step into what could be a path that leads to true hope, and dare I say it, healing.
There is always time. Darling, There is always time.
If you are struggling with suicide, reach out. To me, to a hotline, to a friend, to a family member. Don't stop there. Reach out, again and again. I give you permission to be annoying, to advocate for yourself, to be needy. Because I need you to live. Keep going until you find the help you need.
You can't rush your healing. But there is always time to give, to wait, to spend, to cherish. Don't give up. I know you can get through this next breath. Listen to a song. Read a book. Distract yourself and let the moment pass and pass again.
Suicide does not end the pain, it turns it into a grenade. It goes off, and every heart of every person you have ever met will be faced with the intensity of the pain you feel right now. Suicide doesn't take away pain, it takes away the potential for more. For hope. For healing. For adventure. For friendship. Suicide doesn't take away the bad. It takes away the good. Time gives it back. Time is the only thing that can make this pain find an end.
If you have dealt with suicide in the past, and have found new life through time, through hope, through semicolons or anything else SHARE YOUR STORY. Save a life. <3 I want to hear it. Someone on your friends list needs to hear it. Heck, maybe your grocer or postman needs to hear it. Your alive. That is reason enough to be proud of yourself, and to celebrate. It doesn't matter how you put it out there or how your received- just that your sharing your story. You never know who it will touch. Same with prayer. You never know the impact one little action can have on someone's entire existence.
America already has one of the highest suicide rates, and its skyrocketing with the pressures of this pandemic. Mothers are especially vulnerable. Take care of the people in your life. Talk about suicide. Be a safe space. Don't shame anyone. Just hold space, and educate yourself with the resources out there. Anyone can be suicidal. So many people struggle mentally, physically, and emotionally year round, AND at this time of year. It often surprises people when they find out who has been affected by it. It is not uncommon. It is not unhuman. It is very much apart of our reality, and very much something we can all take part in healing.
A small piece of my story:
Three moments in my history, that have changed my life in moments when suicide seemed a very plausible option. I'll share a bit of each now.
ONE: It was a hard day, a hard week. We were struggling financially for months. Some days, I had to skip my own meals just to feed my kid, just to make it to payday. Things had just started improving, bt I was hopeless still. When, suddenly I got the chance to take my son somewhere, an outing. I don't remember where we went, I just know we needed to get out of the house. I was struggling with mental illness, grief, and postpartum disorders. I had like $10 to my name. We spent $5 putting gas in the car, (as I was thanking the lord that the car even made it to the gas station) and then I had a choice to make.
Go hungry that morning, or let my child go hungry. Which of course, is no choice at all if your a good mother. We had $5 after gas, which was just enough to buy my him a chocolate milk, and my breakfast. Or I could buy him a chocolate milk and buy him food. We both couldn't eat with what we had.
First, I almost cried because when I asked the lady if there was a limit to how little gas I could put in the car, she assured me $5 was just fine.
Then, She gave my child a giant chocolate chip cookie- for free. She took it off the rack of goods for sale, and gave it to him, after asking my permission. I took it, as my son hid behind my legs, I encouraged him to give a smile, I thanked her, and barely made it into the car. I was clutching my son and this giant cookie in the front seat, before bursting into tears. I cried as I buckled him in, I assured him they were happy tears, and I cried all the way to our destination. Her small kindness, meant I could afford to eat breakfast that morning. My son enjoyed every crumb of that cookie, and I held onto her act of kindness for months and years to come. I still think of it often. I was spiraling, and she gave me hope to hold on to. It got better. That struggle was so short i the timespan of our lives, but it felt so vital in the moment.
TWO: Back up even farther, to when my son was a tiny tiny baby. I was a mess. I was a brand new mom. I knew nothing. I was suffering from birth trauma, ptsd, postpartum depression and anxiety- though I didn't know that yet. I just thought I was broken, that something was wrong with me. That I had made a mistake in becoming a mom. My son wouldn't nurse. He screamed at me when I held him, when I tried to nurse him. He refused me. I pumped day and night for hours on end, and watched others feed him with a bottle. I flashed back to watching nurses care for him in the hospital when I couldn't. I couldn't even hold him some days and I had to leave to shower and rest. The guilt they gave me, the guilt I held on to, was so heavy. When he got sick for the first time, my heart broke into a million pieces as I felt for the first time these deep and strong waves of fear. Fear that I wasn't cut out for this. Fear that my son would grow to hate me, or worse, that I couldn't help him get better. I reached out to one person, a mama of 11 who I looked up to- with these fears, asking for advice and help. She was clueless- she had never dealt with anything like it and it made me feel so truly alone and crazy.
Now, this first sickness was just a little tummy bug, but hormones are rough on new mamas. You would have thought he was on the brink of death the way I carried on. I was so disconnected from him. I was so desperate. I wanted to help but didnt know how, or how to control the fear. He threw up everywhere and was crying so loud that the hotel staff (we were out of town) came to check on us. In a rush of instinct, I stripped our clothes, and jumped into a warm bath. Where, miraculously, for the first time in months, and for the last time ever, my son latched.
I nursed him.
Oh the healing of that moment.
Had I given up, I would have never experienced that moment. Not to mention, the rest of them. If I had given up any of the times I wanted to back then, I wouldn't have had the pleasure of these moments I now so cherish in my memory. I would not have found the beauty of birth work. I would not have learned how beautifully similar my son's personality is to my own. I would have never experienced the laughter we would share, the adventures, the connection! I never imagined how beautifully close we could come to be. I thought that distance, that fear, was forever. I never imagined these years, my son's five now, and these years have brought me SUCH joy and fun. I am so so so glad I lived to see them. To know him.
THREE: Lastly, and most recently, I share the most vulnerable moment I have ever had. The closest I have ever been to suicide in my life. The thoughts have always came and gone, but it was never truly and option in my mind most of the time. This day however, it was not only an option, it was a plan.
And it was terrifying.
I lost my child, my baby girl, in November 2019. I missed her now, in this moment months later. All I wanted, was to be with her. I imagined and dreamed of floating on a cloud, and holding her close, sleeping. Angel wings on us both. I imagined meeting Jesus, and ending the pain. I imagined sharing heaven with my baby. I didn't know if that's how it worked, or if it was even possible, but i did imagine it. It was just a fantasy. But then, in a moment of bad mental health on my end, and a struggle with temper on my husbands, we got into a fight. It was over something stupid, that wouldn't matter in the time to come. But we both defended our sides and stubbornly held ground for no reason. Fights, even healthy civil ones, have never been easy for me. PTSD from childhood, has impacted every part of my marriage. When someone barely raises their voice, I can be prone to shut down or overreact due to this ptsd.
We got into this fight... and it just pushed me over the edge. I ran away. I got in the car, and I was SO angry. I was angry at him, angry at myself, angry at life. Terrified because I have never struggled with anger until I met grief. I was exhausted. I was in so much pain and I was so tired, I just wanted to sleep, to rest. I wanted it all to go away. I planned to drive, as fast as I could. I imagined hitting a wall with my car. I imagined anywhere I could go, how to do it without hurting others. Finally the visions from my biggest driving fear hit me. You know when you drive past an exit on the interstate, how there is often a sign right in the middle of the split of the main road form the exit? I have always been terrified of swerving and hitting that sign. But now, I limagined how to aim for it.
I made it down the suburbian road, out of the trailer park, and to a stoplight. All I had to do was turn right, drive, turn left, drive, turn right and board the interstate.
Instead, I made a quick impulsive decision. I turned right, and stopped, to park in a furniture store parking lot. No one was there, it was empty. I was empty. Suddenly, I was filled with fear. Anger faded and fear took over. Fear of these thoughts, these emotions. I trembled. I felt like the whole earth was shaking and would swallow me up. I imagined the ambulance coming to the scene. The face of my son and husband. I longed for the emotions that would come, every person who would feel guilt for abandoning me in moments of need. I imagined, and I feared, and I thought, but I didn't act. I waited. I waited. I waited. I read a blog, after googling how to not commit suicide, that encouraged me to wait some more. I reached out to my friend who I knew had gone through this, and she listened to me and held space for me and made me laugh. She understood, and helped me wait.
Finally, I texted my husband and told him where I was. And I waited. And he told me how sorry he was for the silly fight. Told me how much he loved me. He begged me to keep being still, keep waiting, and then to come home when I was safe again. He offered to come get me. I told him I would be home soon.
I waited. And time passed. I waited. And I started to be able to breathe again. I didn't have a will to live yet, but the emotion faded, the intensity of anger and fear had finally numbed, and that made it easier to wait, and to choose to live a bit longer. I didn't want to die. I just wanted to end all of this anger and fear and pain. Time did that for me. Time ended it.
I waited. I lived. My story went on.
And since then, I have found plenty more moments of sorrow yes. But also great joy. Pride in my actions of choosing life and choosing to wait. Honor in my ability to help others though similar moments. Humility at the impact of sharing my story. I have found ways to love my daughter without longing for death. I have found ways to feel intense emotion without the fear that comes with them. I have found love. I have reconnected to therapy that helps me SO much. I have made a bridge with my heart again, to cover the one grief burned down. A bridge that has led me to make up with my friend hope, and my heart of faith. A bridge that has brought me forward through time, to healing. Today, I have a STRONG will to live. Today, I have survived PMADS, Suicide, and major surgery. When I woke up from that surgery, I was overwhelmed for weeks with a joy that I was alive. I have never felt such strong joy for being alive as I did then, as I do now. My story didn't end, I am so glad it didn't, and so is my family, and so are my friends. My journey with suicide is not over, and I know I may face these struggles again much like an addict will face temptation. But I have tools. I have contacts. I have resources. I have built myself a safety net, so that if these feelings do come up, I do not have to suffer alone. I can choose to wait, again. And eventually, that will turn into a choice to live. Honestly I think have been building this safety net since I was a kid, making peace with big emotions and learning how to navigate anxiety. Which is why I was able to stop that car on that day. Therapy, people, resources, they are truly valuable in ways people do no understand.
Someone used to scold me that suicide was selfish, hoping that it would deter me should I encounter it's temptation someday. It didn't. It made me angry, and made me afraid to ask for help. Suicide isn't a selfish act, it's a desperate one. The selfish ones, are those who shame or judge those who feel backed into such a corner, such a feeling or thought as this. Shame has never saved a life, but three times now, (or more) time and kindness have saved mine.
Time. Let's be friends with her again. She can offer us... so much.