World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. As someone who struggles with chronic depression, and has attempted suicide in the past, this is a big deal to me, and a cause that is near and dear to my heart.

Many of those who know me are surprised when they find out that I’ve struggled with depression for years. The first time I wrote that I was depressed in a journal, I was a mere 7 years old—it is in my first diary. What I brushed aside as teen angst and struggles with growing up came back with a vengeance when I was in my early 20’s. I still never wanted to believe there was a problem, until it was nearly too late.

My family and friends seemed shocked and some were in disbelief when I was finally diagnosed, partly because I hid my pain so well, partly because I have a flair for the dramatic and partly because of what I view as a major problem in society today: the stigma associated with mental health. It is scary to talk about pain, to admit that you are sad and scared and hurting. No one wants to be “the crazy friend” who struggles.

I am happy to say that I got help when I needed it most, via medication and the world’s best therapist (seriously—I adore her, and would totally be her friend away from the office. Is that creepy? Probably, sorry about that). While my medication levels are very, very low these days on a daily basis, I am still in regular talk therapy and have medication I can use in the event of a panic attack or breakdown. I have good days and I have bad days and I have in between days, but what’s important is that I have days because I got help. My days my not always be extraordinary, but I am here, living them, and I am so grateful.

One of the most inspirational non-profits that I am aware of is To Write Love On Her Arms. This is their vision for suicide prevention:

Beyond treatment, we believe that community is essential, that people need other people, that we were never meant to do life alone.

The vision is that community and hope and help would replace secrets and silence.

The vision is people putting down guns and blades and bottles.

The vision is that we can reduce the suicide rate in America and around the world.

The vision is that we would learn what it means to love our friends, and that we would love ourselves enough to get the help we need.

The vision is better endings. The vision is the restoration of broken families and broken relationships. The vision is people finding life, finding freedom, finding love. The vision is graduation, a Super Bowl, a wedding, a child, a sunrise. The vision is people becoming incredible parents, people breaking cycles, making change.

The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead.

The vision is the possibility that we’re more loved than we’ll ever know.

The vision is hope, and hope is real.

You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.

I love that they say that this is not the end of your story, that there is hope and possibility. I have no way of knowing who is reading my blog, or what they’re struggling with. If you need help, I beg of you: GET IT. Don’t wait. Call Hopeline. Call a friend. Call your mom or dad, a co-worker…anyone. Get it out. Get help. It’s not worth waiting until it’s too late.

If you know of a friend who needs help, reach out. Do it today. Don’t be afraid to ask those tough questions: if they are really okay, if they need help, if they need love or a listening ear. Believe it or not, it’s those tiny gestures that make all the difference.

My “birth-day” of celebration is August 5—the day that every year, I remember what it felt like to get help, and to start over. Last year, I was featured over at the extraordinary 37Days, and if you’d like to read more about how those tiny moments and gestures saved me, take a peek.

I realize that this post is lengthy, but these words from a post on To Write Love On Her Arms Facebook page sum up what you can do today perfectly:

What’s your part to play? We’re all invited. Smile at someone, know someone, say something, ask the question, make the call, take the drive. Every life is priceless and fragile. We get to guard and fight and care, for the people around us. There are plenty of things to fight about and for over the course of our lives – let’s remember that people are the most important thing, the brightest surprises on the planet. Let’s remember that every single person has a story entirely unique and incredibly important, but not everyone can see it. And what a privilege that we get to do our best to remind and invite people, to believe better things, to believe that it’s possible to change, to believe that life is worth living…

We’re not saying that it’s easy. But we’re saying that it’s worth it.

Love is the movement. Thank you for caring.

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12 Comments

Filed under life with titch

12 responses to “World Suicide Prevention Day

  1. This is such a touching post. Thank you for sharing such a personal experience, and I truly hope that if anyone reading it needs help (or knows someone who does), they will seek it because of your inspiring words.

    Many years ago, my husband (boyfriend at the time) struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide. It was such a hard situation, but I’m just glad I was there for him and that he, too, was able to start over.

  2. This is gorgeous. I relate more than I’d like to admit. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your story and reaching out to others and being an advocate for preventing suicide. It’s awareness and compassion like this that help break that stigma that is unfortunately attached to mental illness.

  5. Mighty Mouse

    Oh Amy, I had no idea! It makes my heart sad! I’m glad tho’ these days are far, far better for you!

  6. Thank you for sharing!!!!! Depression is definitely difficult to deal with by everyone involved!!

  7. I love that you shared this & I honestly did not know they had a day reserved for this (which I think is wonderful). I got help myself a little over two years ago. I can finally hold my head up high and from heart say life IS worth living & I am happy! My bff said to me at the time, “you may not be able to believe me now but, there IS light at the end of the tunnel” – I didn’t believe her but, she was right. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
    Thank you for keeping it so real on your blog – I don’t know you personally but, I think you are a pretty amazing person from everything I have read.
    Have a wonderful day full of all the beautiful things life has to offer!

  8. This is a great post. As someone who has been through the same things you have, I appreciate you speaking up about it.

  9. Ari

    Wonderful post! Thank you ! It took me years to finally admit to my family that I was depressed – it took an suicide attempt before I could. I still have problems telling people when its happening – my bf has been great at trying to convince me that “we’re all a little crazy.” Friends and family have been the best “tool” I have in dealing with it.

  10. Juley Robarge Woods

    Amy,
    You are fantastic. I could imagine how hard it was to accept that you struggled with depression because everyone viewed you as happy-go-lucky.
    I am glad you are doing way better, and thanks for reminding people to care and get help.
    🙂

  11. ohhayitskk

    great entry. i loved it, and i can totally relate, particularly to the weirdness of realizing i needed help. i hid my anxiety disorder for so long and so well, that no one, even a therapist or two, realized how bad it had really gotten. it got to the point where i was having panic attacks constantly, and i was miserable, but for a long time, i was too proud to get help.

    then i did, and now i’m soooo much happier and at ease. and medicated. wooo.

  12. Nice post. Jill Pilgrim recommended I give you a read. She flattered me by telling me that my posting reminds her of yours – honest. It was a huge compliment.

    My mental health story can be found over at Pilgrim Congress, and although it’s rather tongue-in-cheek, I can completely relate to both your and her stories. (http://pilgrimcongress.com/2009/10/the-birth-of-mental-illness/)

    And there’s much more to the story, but I haven’t quite gotten there as far as writing it all out.

    I also have To Write Love On Her Arms as a Social Vibe sponsor on my site. Love it.

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