I’ve lived a fairly charmed life. It’s not filled with extravagance, mind you. My family never went on exotic vacations. We didn’t drive the newest, most luxurious cars, or wear name brand clothes. Rather, I consider my life charmed because it was filled with family time, hot meals, and a sturdy roof over my head.
My sisters and I lived with two of the world’s best parents. They couldn’t always give us what we wanted, but we certainly had everything we ever needed, including an abundance of love, love that was given to us by the greatest life teachers we could have ever asked for.
If you had told me ten, fifteen years ago that a member of my family would attempt suicide, I would have scowled and thought you confused me for someone else.
But it happened.
Blood and tears were shed. Heads filled with mind-numbing confusion and disbelief. How could someone with such a beautiful, gifted, and blessed life want to end it all?
Depression isn’t something that runs in our family. Admittedly, alcoholism does. And with it comes a sort of willing depression. Consuming anything to medicate pain, whether that pain is internal or external, is a recipe for destruction.
It had been staring us in the face the whole time, and we didn’t see it. Maybe it was because we were all grown and living in different houses. Maybe we didn’t know the extent of the hurt and sadness. Perhaps it had been purposefully hidden from us. Or, maybe we just didn’t want to see. Bad habits had become commonplace and regrettably shrouded in denial and shame.
Falling into a rut like that ended in disaster. And I shudder at the thought of what could have been.
When I got the call, I was struck with a torrid of emotions. I cycled through shock, grief, and guilt until finally landing on anger. I was angry at my family member and at myself–angry at how delicate life is, that a simple, tiny little thing could take it all away.
Mostly, I was angry it had come to this. And I couldn’t do anything to fix it.
Those were the lowest days our family had ever seen. We found ourselves putting regulations and boundaries on a grown adult. Sleepless nights were my companion. Collectively, we held our breaths while silently praying this would never happen again. Part of each of us had broken in one way or another.
Some of us haven’t healed from this. It’s a dark shadow on the tapestry of our lives, serving as a cruel, relentless reminder of what could have been, what was, and what we’ve grown from.
I’m happy to report almost three years later, that suicide attempt was the only one and our outlook is a bright one. That doesn’t erase it. That won’t take back what happened. The scars are both a physical and metaphorical symbol of who we were, where we’ve come from, and where we must go.
September is Suicide Prevention Month.
It serves as a beacon of awareness for all. Because depression doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care about age or gender or race. No matter your social status or economic status. You could have a good job, or a terrible job. Depression doesn’t care, and it can strike at any time. They could be the happiest, most outgoing person you know.
What we don’t know is what’s happening inside.
Smiles don’t always mean happiness. Laughter doesn’t always mean pain-free.
Pledge to keep in touch with those you love and promise to keep yourselves open. Be with the ones you love. Be in their lives and be a presence. Let them know you’re there for them, and not just by saying those words. Check on them, annoy them, make them feel as loved as you can. Remind them over and over and over through gestures and in words.
If you or someone you know is struggling, please know there is always help.
The Suicide Prevention Lifeline can save a life, maybe even your life.
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