It’s suicide prevention week, and I keep thinking about my own story. Last year I shared why I chose to stay, but I felt like I should share my story again.
“I think I want to get a tattoo.” The words came out of nowhere and Griffin lets out a laugh.
“Wait? Really?” he asks, looking at me. I know, those are the last words I thought would ever come out of my mouth. “That’s awesome! What would you get?”
I show him the two arrows I’d just drawn in my journal. “Maybe this. Possibly a semi-colon too.”
It was 2017, and part of me wanted a tattoo, a reminder that I was a survivor. That life was worth living. But I also knew that I couldn’t get a tattoo because I was a sexual abuse survivor because I didn’t want it to be about him, it had to be about me.
Angry, I shut the bathroom door. The bathroom fan roars to life as I turn on the light, successfully blocking out the cries from my nine-month-old baby. Successfully blocking out the sound of my own sobs. I sink to the floor.
“I could do it right now,” I think to myself. Then it would all be over.
I almost do. I think of how Griffin would find me in a few hours when he gets home from work. He’d probably wonder why Von was crying in her crib. I hate these thoughts, but I still want it to be over, the darkness in my mind that I can’t seem to escape. I could do it right now.
Instead, I sit on the hard ground, in the bathroom I hate, sobbing. I am at the end of my rope. I don’t know how to go on any longer. I don’t know if I want to go on any longer.
Somehow, I find the smallest bit of strength in me and I get up. When I splash cold water on my face, I nearly jump in shock. Is this what it feels like to be alive?
I head out of the small bathroom and down the hall to Von’s room. She’s still fussy, but she’s settled down. I pick her up from her crib and give her a little hug, I almost wasn’t able to do that.
I set her on the ground with her toys and grab my phone, FaceTiming first my sister who doesn’t answer, and then my mom who does. They’re at the mall together. Looking at the Christmas lights or Christmas shopping. It’s almost Thanksgiving. I tell them that I’m having a hard day, not that I want to die. The only thing that really feels like an option right now.
I ask my mom if she can come out next week since we’ve been going through a rough sleeping patch. Which is true, but I just want my mom. She says yes.
Later, when Von is asleep, I pull out my phone and randomly pick a day on the calendar a few months away. “If things aren’t better by then, I’ll do it that day.” I think to myself. I go to sleep feeling more hopeful than I have in weeks.
The next morning, the hope I fell asleep with lingers. The darkness, the heaviness, on my mind is still at the point where we don’t much while Griffin is at work, but I don’t feel the same helplessness that almost took me yesterday.
Instead, I feel like trying.
I might have picked a future day, but deep down I know that I don’t actually want to die. Dying just seems like the only option of being free from everything. My life. The things in my head. But I don’t actually want to die, my brain just doesn’t think there’s any other option.
This is the day I start to fight for my life.
“I’m gonna get one on Saturday.” Griffin’s words startle me at first but don’t actually surprise me. I nod, we’ve been talking about it for weeks now, more seriously than two years ago when I first mentioned it. I can’t seem to take the plunge and he’s tired of waiting for me to decide.
So much has changed in the past two years, and a few months ago Griffin said he’d get a tattoo with me, just so I didn’t have to do it alone. Maybe he knows that it’ll take more than me wanting a tattoo to actually get one.
We both set appointments for that Saturday.
One of Griffin’s friends comes with us to hang out with Von while we’re there.
I go first. I’m shaking but I know I want to do this. I have to do this.
The light at the end of the tunnel finally feels bigger than the non-existent light that’s been there for months and I want something, two tiny arrows, on my wrist to help ground me when things get bad again. Because I know it could happen.
It’s over fast, and I’m grateful because I really don’t like needles. Griffin’s takes a little longer because it’s bigger, and I can’t stop looking at the two small arrows on my wrist.
“What will my parents say? What will my grandparents think?” I start to wonder, but then I shake my head. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about this. This was for me. My reminder.
To keep going. To keep living.
“I just want to die.” The tears are silents as I rock back and forth on the floor of Von’s bedroom. Why won’t she just sleep? She just needs to sleep so that I can sleep.
I’ve been depressed since the clocks changed in November and now that it’s January, I have nothing left to give. I need sleep to feel remotely human, to feel like life’s worth fighting for. But Von won’t sleep. I sit on her floor for hours every night for hours willing this tiny human who’s not a baby anymore to just freaking sleep. The familiar thoughts of ending it all have started to creep back in.
I look at the tiny arrows on my wrist and decide again to keep going. I make a therapy appointment in the morning.
The next night when I wake up as Von crawls into our bed, I don’t get up and take her back to bed. In a few months, when she still slips into our bed each night, I might regret it. But for now, sleep calls to me, and I sleep more than I have in weeks.
We start sleeping again and the desire to die lifts. I wonder if this battle with depression will ever end. Even if it doesn’t, I’m going to keep fighting.
I’ve been fighting for my life for 1024 days, and I’m so glad I’m still here.
I’m so glad you’re still here.
If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255.
Talking about suicide does not cause people to commit suicide. If you suspect a friend or loved one is suicidal, reach out. Be there for them. Ask the hard questions and listen and then, if you’re able and they’re willing, get them professional help.
Stay. The world needs you.