Suicide Is Not Selfish
I attempted suicide when my son was a baby. My mother died 6 months after I’d given birth to a healthy baby boy, two weeks after my birthday, a few months into a period of severe postpartum depression, 6 months of my being unemployed, and in the midst of my marriage falling apart after the discovery of my ex-husband’s infidelity. I was at the lowest point of my life, which is saying a lot because I’d already been through a great deal. I felt completely hopeless and convinced myself that my son, and the world honestly, would be better off without me around.
That line of thinking was rational to me-- when you’re depressed, it becomes difficult to recognize which of your thoughts are outside of your personal “norm” and are actively eroding your ability to process anything positive. I constantly had thoughts in my mind that told me “Your life is never going to improve,” “You’re stuck here in this misery,” “You were born to suffer”, “Your son is better off without you,” “You’re doing him a favor by leaving this world behind”. I would wake up and ask, “Why? Why the hell did I wake up? Why couldn’t I have just gone to sleep forever, peacefully?” and I would become angry with God, for waking me up. Despite the façade I put on for everyone else, I couldn’t think of a single worthwhile reason for going on with my life for another day.
I tried and failed. I took an entire bottle of sleeping pills and my ex-husband happened to come home early and find me. I say that I “failed” because at that time, I’d decided that ending it was exactly what I wanted to do so I set my mind to it and made provisions to make it happen. I wrote a letter to my son, bought the pills, laid in my bed, and went to sleep, hoping that it would be the final sleep I’d experience. I went to sleep with a smile on my face because I looked forward to hugging my mother again in the Afterlife. My ideas about the Afterlife didn’t discount people who committed suicide as a means of ending torment and pain; suicide, in those instances, was an act of freedom and mercy, at least in my opinion. What kind of god wants people to suffer and endure pain, right?
I survived. I’m here. I think of the “failure” as indication that it was not my time and that maybe I did have something to contribute to the world at some point. That way of thinking didn’t come immediately, however. My marriage did end. I did have to go into treatment and I am still engaged in mental health care to be able to live as productive a life as possible. I do have a beautiful, healthy, compassionate son who loves me dearly (and needs me). I have rebounded in such tremendous ways, that I consider myself fortunate to have been to the bottom and to not only have survived, but to have learned important lessons about myself, my purpose, and what my life will continue to be about.
Today, I choose to live and do so, each day, with intent and purpose. It is not easy, especially when so many people expect so much from you. I get called “strong” so much, the word has completely lost its meaning on me. I’m told I’m an inspiration and I feel obligated to keep inspiring. If I share my “weaknesses,” I fear I will let the people who look up to me down. I fear people will use them against me to tear me down, as many have done before. I fear being exposed, being vulnerable, and being open to other people’s opinions about how I should live my life. My engagement in social media means being exposed to triggers that take me back to some of the most traumatic moments in my life and I find myself sinking in dark places and I must actively fight against the descent. Some people can’t fight like I do, though, and we should never blame them. Sometimes, I don’t want to fight, and that’s as real as it gets, folks.
No one has the right to determine what another person should endure. We don’t get to tell other people that “it will be OK” and they “need to have more faith”. We have no right to tell someone that their pain isn’t as bad as others, thus negating their experiences and isolating them further away from actually getting help that might make things better. We don’t get to make other people’s lives about US and demand that people live for us and our wants and needs. We have no permission to dictate the choices of others and expect that their choices consider our feelings before their own. That is the epitome of selfishness and we need to end that way of thinking.