Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.
It’s a day when so many of us decide to share our stories of how suicide has touched our lives - whether as survivors of suicide loss or of suicide itself.
I’ve struggled with depression for most of my life. As a teenager, I dipped my toes into the dark water of hopelessness by using coping mechanisms that involved different forms of self harm. It wasn’t for lack of trying. I had been in therapy since I was a very young child and was medicated for years but depression seemed to be a cloud that constantly surrounded me in darkness.
My first year of college, I met someone who shared that darkness with me and we fell deeply in love. It was easy to love someone who understood me so intensely, but it was difficult to maintain a relationship with someone when we were both struggling to keep our heads above water.
It was 8 turbulent years later that I lost him to depression, and I quickly found myself drowning in the deep and dark water that had swallowed him. I went back to the coping mechanisms that I was so familiar with - self harm. Only this time, I did it differently. I refused myself the things that my body needed the most, like food and even emotions. I self medicated to the point that I didn’t recognize hunger or sadness.
And a little over one month after he lost his battle - I almost lost my own. I laid in bed on New Years Eve, listening to the fireworks outside of my window. I drank too much, swallowed a handful of a pills to dull the pain and I decided I couldn’t do it anymore.
My dog, Furio, who had been Sam’s best friend for years, suddenly nuzzled his head into my chest and sighed deeply. I put my arm around him and cried into his thick fur. It was the cathartic kind of crying that I needed so deeply. It reminded me that I was alive - broken, drowning, but alive.
I spent the next 5 years in weekly therapy, heavily medicated and attempting to put in the work that I needed to heal. But when my Grandpa passed away in 2018, I realized I needed a different kind of healing.
I was an “adult orphan” and after being dependent on my grandparents for so much of my life - I knew I needed to do something to give me back power and love in my life.
6 months later, I was on a flight to Nepal to begin a journey that I had dreamt of for 10 years - trekking to Everest Base Camp.
It was a week of extreme highs and lows as I pushed my mind and body to limits I had never experienced before. I thought I would have so much time on the trail to ruminate on my life, but instead I just found myself in a form of deep meditation as I placed one foot in front of the other, breathing deeply and stopping often to fully absorb the beauty of the Himalaya’s.
When I finally reached the base of the highest mountain in the world, I was immediately brought to tears. One of my trekking mates wrapped her arms around me as I allowed myself to cry in that cathartic way that I had done years before on a night when I almost decided to give up on this life.
But this time I was crying for a different reason - because I didn’t give up, because I was realizing just how beautiful this world was, and above all, because I was alive.