Sharing my personal story about mental illness and dealing with suicide.
With the stories about Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain being shared, I’ve been doing what I always do – lightly discussing “how sad” these events are before moving on to another topic completely. I’ve never found it easy to express myself out loud. I find solace and comfort in writing, which is why writing a blog post about this is a lot easier than saying the words out loud.
Three years ago, I thought about killing myself.
I never thought I would write those words, but in light of everything that’s happening in the world, I feel compelled to share my story, more for myself than for anyone else.
In 2015, I had just gotten out of a 4-year relationship and to say I struggled is an understatement. Your twenties are when you’re supposed to be finding yourself, but the first half of my twenties was defined by a relationship, so finding myself on my own in my mid-twenties was harder than I was willing to admit at the time. I was lonely. I felt like I was failing at adulting, and I was unhappy with almost every aspect of my life.
I started hanging out with people who were incredibly toxic. I (initially unknowingly) became a woman on the side. I got mixed up in drugs. I distanced myself from the people who cared about me and put all of my energy into seeking the approval of people who didn’t give a sh*t about me. I not only didn’t recognize the person who I was becoming, but I hated her. I hated myself. So much so that for the first time ever in my life, I considered suicide as an option.
I’m not sharing this because I want you to feel sorry for me. I’m sharing this because if these words weren’t written on this blog post, most of the people in my life wouldn’t believe it’s true. If you read through some of my blog posts from 2015, there are quite a few where I write about trying to figure out who I am and find my worth and how I was going through a quarter-life crisis. That entire year I felt broken, and I was trying to write the words that I needed to hear so I could try to fix myself because I was afraid to reach out to my friends and family in fear that they would judge me and wouldn’t understand what I was going through.
I work really hard to make my life look like it’s perfect, and in 2015, I worked so hard at it that I questioned everything.
Why did I care so much about what everyone thought of me?
Why was I putting all this effort into people who I knew didn’t care about me?
Was any of this even worth it?
Would anyone actually care if I wasn’t around anymore?
Let me say it loud so the people in the back can hear:
SUICIDE DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE.
Mental illness can happen to anyone. It doesn’t care about race, age, gender, class, sexual orientation, etc.
Just because someone is seemingly happy on the outside doesn’t mean that they aren’t suffering on the inside. I spent so much of my life burdening myself with my problems because I didn’t want to burden anyone else with them. I didn’t think anyone would care. I didn’t think my problems were worth it. I didn’t think my life was worth it.
I grew up in broken households where I never felt like I could really express myself or my feelings. I’m not putting that burden on my parents or anyone else in my family because I know most of it starts and ends with me, but I grew up holding so much of myself and my feelings in. I never thought that I was allowed to share how I felt, so I still hold on to so many things from my childhood that I didn’t realize would affect me as much as they do to this day.
From a young age, I put a lot of pressure on my friends to make me happy because I didn’t find that peace within my family. I would stop reaching out to people with the assumption that if they actually cared about me, they would start reaching out to me. When I didn’t hear from them for awhile, I assumed they stopped caring about me altogether. I assumed I didn’t matter to them, and slowly I stopped mattering to myself. I put a lot of clout in friendships and relationships, even the ones I knew would be temporary, and I was overwhelmed by the anxiety and honest belief that no one cared about me.
It took me a long time to believe that I matter, but I would be lying if I said I’m 100% satisfied with my life. Even now, I’m still held down by jealousy and so many ugly things that keep me from recognizing my worth. I have breakdowns. I cry all the time. I constantly question my purpose. I still question if people care about me.
In the age of social media, it’s easy for us to make it look like our lives are perfect and that we’re doing okay, but that’s not always the case. I’ve run into people at the grocery store or at the bar who say my life looks amazing, and yes, I have made some incredible memories and had some unforgettable experiences, but that doesn’t mean I’m immune to feeling doubt, fear, jealousy and worthlessness. A lot of my day-to-day life is filled with anxiety.
Mental health is something that needs to be talked about. Sometimes people want to cry out for help, but they’re afraid of being judged or of people being apathetic. They need someone who is ready and willing to listen to them and genuinely show that they care. They don’t need you to remind them of the good things going on in their life. They don’t need you to act like you understand what they’re going through and to hear about your own experiences (not in that moment anyway). They don’t need you to tell them that things will get better or this is just a phase. They need you to be there for them. They need you to empathize. They need you to try to understand. And they need you to reassure them over and over and over again that they are important.
Never assume that everyone in your life is doing okay.
Never take the people in your life for granted.
Never miss an opportunity to tell your friends and family that you love them, that you care about them and that they matter.
If you’re struggling with mental illness or think that you could be, and you’re not quite ready to reach out to anyone, there’s a website called PsychCentral that has some incredible articles and resources for everything from substance abuse to depression, eating disorders, ADD/ADHD, PTSD and so much more. There are quizzes, podcasts, blog posts, forums and many other resources available. You can also click here to take a mental health and wellness test to help pinpoint the issues that may be affecting your well-being and need attention.
If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for 24/7 support or visit their website for information and resources to help.