For a very long time, most of my teens at least, the word suicide made me nervous. I didn’t know how other people would react to the word, and I just hoped they couldn’t see my cheeks turn red, or ask me any questions. The thought of talking about it openly among others made my stomach churn and it was almost unimaginable. To do this day, I still find it easier to share my story with strangers than with close friends or family. The stigma of this topic is still so prevalent today.
But I’ve always liked a challenge.
I grew up as a pretty timid person, I was scared of dogs for the first ten years of my life and the thought of jumping out of a plane when I was in high school never crossed my mind. But eventually I grew up. I became slightly obsessed with any and all dogs, eventually having my own. And one of the best birthday presents I have ever received was a trip to go skydiving. I overcame my fears. So I figured, if I could make steps toward facing some of the things that scared me most, even if they were small, then I could talk about suicide. I could share my own story. Those things matter far more than an adrenaline rush or owning my own pet.
But even as I sit here now, my hands still shake a little as I think about opening up further. As I think about the people, mainly the ones I know, that will stumble across this post. I still have fears about how others will view me if they know my past. If they really get the chance to see the person that I am or the things that I’ve been through. And then I think about all of the stories I’ve heard about people who didn’t get a chance to share their story or who’s life could have been positively affected if they had known they weren’t alone in their battle; that people have been down these roads before them.
So here I am. Saying that I am a survivor. And that I’ve known many people who have struggled, and some who didn’t make it to overcome their struggle. It doesn’t make you a bad person, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it. If you’ve struggled with suicide or depression, that is just part of the story that makes you unique. And stronger.
Today, and this week, notice the people who are wearing yellow in support of those who are struggling and notice those who are writing “love” on their arms. Share your story, or be willing to listen to someone tell you their story. Who knows, it could save a life.