That phone number right there, it saves lives, y'all.
How do I know?
Because it's the phone number to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, and I called it on Thursday.
I'm not writing this post to make you go "OMG! What happened?" or tell me you love me or tell me how sorry you are that I'm struggling.
I'm writing this post because September is National Suicide Prevention Month.
And I'm writing this post because it's something that nobody really wants to talk about, and so many people suffer in silence because of that. Trust me, a big part of me really doesn't want to write this post - I'm shaking trying to type out the words - but I feel like I need to. The people you think have everything going for them, the people who can appear to be doing so well, the people you put up on a pedestal as your role models because they seem so fierce and you wish you had the kind of innate fierceness that they do, those can just as easily be the people who are struggling with depression or other mental illness and suicidal thoughts as those who have made it known.
I was so ashamed to tell my best friend today what happened, honestly. I thought it'd make me appear weak. I thought that it would shake the belief he's always held in me, that it would shatter his desire to be my constant cheerleader. But it was after some wise words from him that I realized (remembered?) that depression, mental illness, they don't make a person weak. The chemical imbalance in my brain does not make me weak; it's part of what makes me me. My strength lies in the fact that I've never let the demons win. I've never given up fighting, no matter how low, or broken, or close to giving up I've felt.
But more importantly, my strength lies in the fact that despite everything this world has thrown at me, I still desire more than anything to love people and be kind, in the fact that that is my core characteristic when I owe the world nothing at this point. I'd honestly never thought of strength like that until he said it. But he's right. Love in the face of unrelenting bullshit, I can't imagine anything stronger, more powerful, more beautiful than that.
When people get to know my life story, and they learn everything that I've survived, they often start to look at me like I'm more capable or successful, or just better, than them. "I could never deal with all that you deal with." That's what I hear almost every time. But what the vast majority of people don't hear or see or know about, everyone except a handful of my closest friends, are the times that I am breaking down, feeling absolutely crushed under the weight of my day-to-day life. I put on a good face for most people, but for a select few, I'll show when my heart is broken, when my mind is clouded by anger and frustration and fear, when my eyes can't see another inch and my feet can't figure out how to take another step forward because everything just seems so. hard. They know when I'm hitting my breaking points, and they refuse to let me go.
It just so happened that Thursday night, I didn't tell any of them. One, because when it got really bad and dark, it was incredibly late and I didn't think I could wake any of them up. But mostly two, because I had it in my head that I didn't want to be a burden to them, that they have their own lives with their own problems, and it would be so much easier for all of them if I just wasn't here. Their lives would be "less complicated." After everything I went through to get the incredible family of friends that I have today, and knowing how much they love me and everything they've stood by me through, I still thought it would be easier if I left them. That was one of the (many) things that pushed me to the edge that night.
I didn't actually attempt suicide on Thursday. Today, I'm really grateful that I didn't. But I considered it, in a way that I haven't really done since high school when I was dealing with relentless bullying. There are three things that stopped me.
One, this song by a rapper named Logic, and the cover by Alyson Stoner and Next Town Down, all about someone who is suicidal calling that hotline. Whether or not you're in that state of mind, you should listen to it. It's incredibly powerful.
Two, remembering what two of my soccer brothers told me last summer after my heart stopped during that surgery - that losing me was a possibility they couldn't bear to think about, that it would destroy them. Despite the fact that I thought it would make their lives less complicated in the long run, I knew I couldn't hurt them like that.
And lastly, the woman I spoke to at the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. She talked me off of that edge when I didn't have anybody else to call and made me start to believe in myself again just a little bit when I couldn't see a way forward and felt like giving up.
If you're reading this, please hear me. I don't know what you're going through, and I may not be able to help or understand it, but the Hotline, it works. It worked for me. Please call if you need help. The world needs you.