Today, July 18th, is my birthday, I am 45 years old. July 18th is also the day, when I almost ended my life and would have altered so many others lives. Whether it be luck, an act of God, or something else, my attempt was interrupted. So today is my 25th anniversary of a second chance.
It makes my mind ache and my heart hurt to think of the effects my death could have had on the people I care about. My parents would have lost their second child in the same year, my oldest son would have grown up without me. My daughter, youngest son, and two bonus daughters, they wouldn’t even be here. I would not have two granddaughters that bring such happiness to my heart. So many amazing friends and acquaintances I wouldn’t have met. What I believe to be my true calling in life never met.
I will never understand, regardless of how much I read, research and train, what exactly could cause my brain to believe I was better off gone, that the people I loved would be better off, that I would be doing them a favor. Sitting here with a mostly healthy mind, I know that isn’t true. But in 1993, and especially the weeks leading up to July 18th, they were consuming, and it appeared to be the only true option that made sense. I had to struggle so hard every day to stay alive.
I am so thankful but will probably never understand why I was lucky enough to survive. I used to have such guilt about this. When I meet people that have lost someone to suicide, and I see their pain, their hurt, I felt guilty that I lived, even though I was glad I lived. It also re-enforced the pain I would have caused the ones who cared for me.
This journey has been tough, thought provoking, I have learned so much, and realized there is so much I don’t know.
This year I will spend my birthday working on last minute details for our 5th Annual Suicide Prevention and Awareness Conference - the eighth conference I have helped organize since deciding a little over eight years ago, I had to do something.
Getting to set up this conference is a birthday gift to me, it is part of my continued healing and continued resolve to help break down this discrimination towards mental health struggles that some call a stigma. It is rewarding to know that I am part of these changes.
It is my dream that it may also be a gift to someone who is struggling, struggled in the past, or has someone they know is struggling.
When I celebrate my 45th birthday, I will really be celebrating, my 25 years of second chances, and hoping I can help make a world where many others can have their second chances.
Here are some lessons I have learned in these twenty-five years.
Lessons I have learned and want to share
Lessons I learned
Lessons I want to teach
If you or someone you know is struggling please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741, there are people who can and want to help you through this crisis.
If you are looking for some resources to help you through some tough times, please go to this website www.nowmattersnow.org you can see great examples of skills that can be used.