Within the last three days we have heard and read about the deaths of Kate Spade – fashion designer – and Anthony Bourdain – chef. Both took their own lives, it has been reported.
I am not familiar with the work of both these souls, but I am not removed from feeling compassion, empathy and sympathy. I have been reading comments from disgruntled people asking “why it is important to broadcast their deaths when thousands of others end their lives with no mention in the paper or the Internet?”
I used to ask that question until I was almost a statistic.
Losing someone to suicide is devastating, I fully understand. I only want those in the sphere to know what it is like to be in that place to almost choose to end it all. I can say with all certainty it is a conversation that most avoid. You guys, I see the posts regarding suicide prevention day in/day out, yet the conversation door gets shut with a thud when I mention I survived an attempt. Mental illness only seems to be suffered by those who have not tried or those who have died.
I am part of this conversation, please remember that. With the help of a talk with a friend I am still here.
That breaks my heart.
I believe the presentation of someone admitting a failing moment is hard to respond to. How do you answer? What do you say? I find it easier to deal with someone who announces they have survived cancer treatment. Don’t be like my dad and say, “get some help, as I don’t want to read in the paper that you jumped off a bridge.” One good friend told me that he was glad I stayed. That comment I want to get made into a tattoo.
There are so many emotions involved in dealing with suicide. I look back at the moment my friend told me I mattered and it seems like a dream. I go to that other place every now and then but I always make it back to home. I do not call that moment the “black dog”. I refuse. Black dogs (and most black coloured animals) are usually the last chosen animals to be adopted from an animal shelter. I am not allowing my mental illness to be tagged with animals that are marginalised due to the colour of their fur.
In April 1975 (at the age of nine months) my mother found me unconscious in my crib. I was rushed to the hospital and after a few days of bickering, the doctor administrating my care was finally allowed to test me for diabetes. It was positive. Forty- three years later (after a bitter telephone argument with my mother and three years after my decision to not kill myself) she said this:
“I found you unconscious in your crib and took you to the hospital,” (I thanked her, obviously,) “I could have let you die but I chose not to.” Those words alone do worry me somewhat, as it implies a moment of questioning.
She chose to save my life. I almost chose to unsave it. Now, more than ever, I need to keep this body and mind going. I am going through not nice things right now, yet I am reminded daily of those who think I am worth keeping.
All I ask is for you to consider the struggle it takes to keep going for someone who almost gave up.