I remember telling my husband, Blake, that I’d finally accepted that he and the kids would not be better off dealing with the trauma of my death than living with my depression. I was trying to hold on despite nearly constant suicidal thoughts. I was in so much pain, both emotional and physical, all the time that I just couldn’t see how I could continue to endure. I didn’t want to die; I just didn’t see how I could keep living. I thought we’d exhausted all treatment options and I was on my own to try to survive.
We were on vacation with extended family. I was hiding in my room because it hurt too much to try to be around everyone and be what they wanted me to be. I got a message from a friend about a newish treatment called TMS. I told myself it wouldn’t work, but for some reason, I still pursued it never imagining the difference it would make in our life. How do you adequately thank someone who helped save your life? I honestly don’t know. I do know that she will have my gratitude forever. Before TMS, there had been so many years of depression that I forgot that waking up happy, was a thing. I recently had the incredible privilege of seeing this friend again for the first time since high school and meeting her family. My kids were a little grumpy about meeting strangers. When I told them she’s the one who told me about TMS, their complaining stopped.
Another wise friend of mine, Julia is a runner like me and once told me that friends are like the aide stations in life. In races, aid stations have drinks, snacks, gels, Porta-potties, first aid, and friendly people cheering you on. Sometimes you grab something quick as you run by, sometimes you stop for a long time while they get you dry clothes, hot water, and rub your back while you cry. If life is a marathon, friends are the aid stations.
Sometimes the work of suicide prevention, through fighting stigma, weighs on me. If I were given the choice between a life of suicidal thoughts or not, I’d choose the suicidal thoughts every time, to be able to lift and help others. How could I not? That doesn’t mean that it’s not heavy or hard to carry. Recently I was in desperate need of an aid station. So Julia and I hiked and took in the beauty. After that, she took me out for shaved ice and we parted ways, me feeling lighter, happier, and ready to keep going.
If you are a friend of someone in need, reach out today. You aren’t just saving lives. You’re saving families and friends. I know you might feel silly or stupid reaching out to that friend. Maybe you haven’t seen each other since high school. Maybe you hardly know each other. Maybe whatever. Please ignore the doubts and reach out anyway. You never know when what you have to say is exactly what that person needs to hear. I can’t tell you how many texts I’ve gotten that had precisely the message of encouragement I needed in that exact moment. If you feel prompted to reach out, don’t hesitate! You can save lives!
If you are in need, reach out. I’ll say it again, we are not meant to go it alone! Find your aide stations! And stop at them when you need to. They would rather help you than lose you. I’ve heard multiple people who have lost someone to suicide say that no matter how hard it was to keep helping their loved one in life, it’s nothing compared to the pain and trauma of losing them. They would choose the mess and trouble of helping you live, than the tragedy and trauma of living without you.
There is one who is the Ultimate Aide Station. He is always there. You are never alone.
-This story was originally featured from posts on the seeme.notthestigma Facebook Page