1–800–273–8255 if you or someone you love is having thoughts of suicide.
I’ve been there before. Depressed. Overwhelmed. Hopeless. I’ve felt alone, abandoned, unloved. I’ve been so deep in my own self-loathing I couldn’t see a way out. I couldn’t imagine a future that didn’t look like more suffering and pain. When you hate yourself as much as I did, it’s really hard to find a happy place. Everything feels heavy and exhausting.
I chose to stay when I was twenty-two years old. I was living thirteen hours away from everything I knew. Life was not easy or fun. I was in a toxic relationship, I had two little babies and the weight of the whole world on my young shoulders. My husband at the time took a job that required him to travel, which meant I was all alone with two little ones, trying to find my way around a new city — way before GPS was even a thing — and keep a job while functioning as a single parent, which was extra challenging, because my babies were always sick because they had to go to daycare.
I felt like a failure. We were barely scraping by financially. Neither of us had a college education, so we had to work our way up in our jobs to make any real money. I didn’t have a support system, or anyone I could rely on for help. I didn’t get a moment to myself. If I wasn’t at work, I was cooking, cleaning, giving kids baths or trying to get them in bed so I could rest. I was lonely, isolated and my anxiety was terrible. I worried constantly about making ends meet. I had a whole trunk of childhood baggage I carried around with me everywhere I went, too. That didn’t make life any easier.
I was at my breaking point one night. I was exhausted and just felt so alone. I had no idea how we were going to make things work. Life felt completely overwhelming. When my (then) husband called for our nightly check-in, I told him I wanted to kill myself. He was hours away on business and would be for a couple more days. He asked if I needed his mom to come stay with me and the kids. I declined. He made me promise to go to the doctor the next day, where I got the antidepressants that probably saved my life.
I chose to stay because I didn’t want to leave my children. I didn’t have a great relationship with my mom. I knew how painful that was for me. I didn’t want my kids to feel abandoned or unloved like I did. Whenever thoughts of self-harm came up, I would remind myself that even if no one gave a shit about me, my kids needed their mom. I’m still here today because of them.
That was twenty years ago. I can’t even tell you how much life I’ve packed into these twenty years! I’ve moved cross country two more times, got divorced and married again to an amazing person who treats me like a queen. I’ve made friends around the world, traveled to far-away places, hiked, paddled and driven all over the country and tried so many new things. I got to watch my little babies grow up into amazing grown-ups. They still keep me going. They are still two of my greatest teachers.
In the past twenty years, I got to find out who I really am and what I’m made of. I found my voice, strength and power. I got to climb the corporate ladder and a mountain in a swim suit. (True story.) I got to publish hundreds of articles like this one, to put some healing vibes out into the world. I got to heal the parts of me that made life feel like it wasn’t worth living, and find a deep appreciation for all forty-two years I’ve been on this earth. I got to experience pure joy, truth and love.
These past twenty years have been the best years of my life, and I’m so grateful I chose to stay for them.
If I could go back in time and speak to my twenty-two-year-old self, I would tell her that she can have anything she wants, she just has to choose it. I had no idea how much influence I had over my world and experience when I was young. My feelings of powerlessness were valid — I didn’t know I had any power to change or make things better. I was operating under the idea that life just happens and we just roll with it — like I was waiting for someone else to show up and tell me how to be happy.
Another thing I would tell my younger self is “everything is temporary.” The good times and the bad, people, places, experiences — everything is temporary. We are in constant change, and somehow, things just keep working out. We find new ways to adapt. Life goes on and so do we. So, don’t wish it away. Slow down and enjoy the little things, because they are so important and so fleeting.
If I had left this earth twenty years ago, I would have missed out on the best days of my life. That’s why I would also tell my younger self, and anyone dealing with thoughts of suicide, it gets better. It always does. We learn, we grow, new people and opportunities come into our lives. We change and evolve. It happens so slowly, we might not even realize it. But, one day when we look back on those moments that define us, it’s incredible to see how far we’ve come.
Someday, I hope you’re proud of the battles you fought and won. I hope you find deep appreciation for your life, and all its twists and turns that made you who you are. I hope you look back and remember the hard times as the challenges that helped you find your courage and strength.
I hope you choose to stay when things feel impossible, and that you keep choosing to stay until staying is no loner a question or choice, it’s just what you do.
I hope someday, you’ll look back on your life with gratitude and pride, because leaving this place felt like the easy thing, but you did the hard thing instead. I hope you find unending joy, comfort and prosperity as your lifelong reward for making the choice to power through your pain.
We are never alone in our struggles. If you or someone you love is suffering from suicidal ideations, please call 1–800–273–8255 nation-wide for assistance. Help is always a phone call away.