Every now and this, this blog sees some posts that are a bit more candid, maybe even shocking, regarding my struggles with bipolar disorder and bulimia. While I like to think I’m a better, more stable, happier, healthier, more grounded person than I was in the heat of those battles during college (especially in my sophomore year), those experiences are still a very real part of who I am.
This blog post wasn’t easy to write, and won’t be easy to read.
I was torn on whether or not to address World Suicide Prevention Day. I have friends on Facebook whose passion about it has moved me, but up until this morning, I was scared. It’s very rare that I reference, specifically, the darkest times of those dark days. While it’s obvious I never acted on the urge, I can honestly admit there were times I wanted to “give up.”
But, I’m here. I never did it. I never even tried, as much as I wanted to at times. Why?
There are people in this world who never, ever gave up on me. Even when I was at rock bottom, at my most unstable and most deplorable, there were people who stuck through.
My best friend since kindergarten didn’t know all the details of my struggles — she just knew I was “going through” some stuff. She stuck through it with me. Her husband, too.
My best friends in college were the same way. They didn’t necessarily need to know details, they just knew I needed someone. Some saw me at my worst, some just saw vague heartbreak and loneliness in a typically-outgoing, bubbly person, and leaned in to help.
Probably the most influential group of people in these darkest moments were a little handful of farmers and ranchers I’d come to know through some volunteer efforts. We’d worked on several social media projects together, and had met because of Twitter. It was much easier to open up to someone I didn’t have to deal with face-to-face, than a friend I had to look in the eye. There were countless emails, texts, phone calls, and more. One even “babysat” me on Skype during one of my worst lows.
My family, none of whom I let in to know the real gravity of my struggles until long after, were there, in their own small ways. While I’m sure they didn’t know the meaning of their love at the time, at moments it felt like a lifeline that kept me afloat just a few more minutes, a few more hours. Never underestimate the value of a hug or kind word or inside joke.
These people, these moments, are probably why I survived that foggy, chaotic section of my life. That rampant roller coaster ended a long time ago, but my gratitude to the people who never, ever gave up on me will live on forever. Today, my life is happier and more stable than I could have ever imagined it’d be. Even if there are brief glimpses of darkness now and then, I have the faith, the perspective, and awareness of how loved I am to keep me from ever hitting that level of low again.
Many, however, aren’t as fortunate as me. Many don’t feel comfortable enough reaching out, or they don’t know how to. Talking can be the hardest thing when you feel hollow, lost, or worthless. The saddest part, perhaps, is how often we talk about these lost souls as statistics.
According to NIMH, nearly 35,000 people committed suicide in the U.S. in 2007. That’s a big number. That’s about 11x as many people live in my hometown. That number feels even bigger when we realize that each and every one of those people was someone’s child, cousin, niece or nephew, grandchild, or friend. Some might have been siblings, or aunts or uncles. Each one, somehow, left a mark on this world. And each one is now a light that has been snuffed out by the horrible tragedy of suicide. While many left legacies that may have lit other candles, the flame of their life will never glow again.
However, there are causes we can support to help reduce the prevalence of suicide in our society.
Today, some friends I’ve had the joy of meeting through social media are attempting to raise $10,000 for ImAlive, a service that offers 24/7 crisis aid to individuals who are considering suicide. They’ve saved thousands of lives already, and you can help them save more. Would you consider supporting Olivier and Margie’s efforts alongside their friend Geoff? It’s in memory of their dear friend, who was lost to this heart-breaking tragedy.
This was not an easy blog post to write, and I’m sure it isn’t easy to read. But making it through those dark moments when you think all hope is gone is one of the most difficult tasks a person may ever face. Please, make it easier by supporting resources that can help. And if you ever see a friend or loved one who seems to be navigating a hard time, show a little extra kindness.
They could be needing someone just like you, to show them how much the world would miss them.
All images were borrowed from Margie Clayman’s Facebook newsfeed. As far as I know they’re part of ImAlive outreach assets. If you’re interested in helping spread the word about this cause, feel free to use them as well.