Today was World Suicide Prevention Day. I started thinking about when I attempted suicide, many years ago and thought that I would share my story.
I was 15. The year was 1990.
This means that my scars are 22 years old.
The scars are really faded now. They are barely there. You can only see them if you inspect my arms quite closely. Even then, most of them just look like creases in the skin.
But I still vividly remember how much I struggled Every. Single. Day.
Confusion. Desperation. Hopelessness. Worthlessness.
I had no future. I just wanted to end the pain.
Every day for months, it was all I could think about.
Would I cut myself so that I could bleed to death?
Would I hang myself? Work out how to tie a noose?
Would I find a way to get drugs so that I could OD?
Would I throw myself off a building? Or in front of a bus or truck?
These dark fantasies constantly plagued my mind.
At first everyone was oblivious to my pain. My life was in turmoil but on the outside it seemed like I was coping with it all.
I had good friends at school. My grades were excellent.
So of course it was a shock to everyone when I cut my wrists the first time.
I did it at school. It didn’t bleed properly and the cuts kept clotting too quickly. In frustration I went to get first aid.
I went to hospital. The social workers said it was a cry for attention. They didn’t understand that I just wanted the pain to be over.
The pain continued. I tried to fight it. I hid it well. But eventually I succumbed to the numbness. I wasn’t strong enough to go on. If I could just be finished. Done. Dead.
Without the pain.
I still didn’t know how else to die. I took panadols, and aspirin with coca cola. I didnt know how many I would need. (I didnt take enough). I cut myself again. I tried to cut a lot deeper. I made more cuts to bleed as much as possible. I soaked my hands in the basin so it wouldn’t clot. I laid down and waited for death to find me.
But death didn’t come.
I was found and an ambulance was called. I was taken to hospital.
After that I decided that maybe I wasn’t meant to die. Maybe I was meant to survive. Maybe I was meant to live for a reason. Maybe my life could be worth living. It could mean something. One day.
And for the first time in a long time, I felt a flickering of hope.
I was sent to stay with a foster family for a couple of weeks. They had four children yet they had room to take me in. Their hearts were bursting with love and kindness, generosity and a freedom that I could not even begin to understand.
On the last night of my stay they took me to their pentecostal church. I found it strange but I could not deny the feeling that surged through me when they prayed for me. As a Catholic this scared me so I closed my mind.
But a seed was planted that night. A hunger for something more.
It was time for a new start. At the beginning of the new school year I moved towns to live with my Dad. This did not turn out well and after 6 months I went back to live with my Nan.
The seed began to grow and after quite a while I began to attend mass every week.
But I was hungry for something more.
I began singing for Mass.
But I hungered for something more.
I got involved in the youth movement at the church.
But I hungered for something more.
Eventually an old friend from another school invited me to go with her to a pentecostal youth church. I agreed to go, skeptical yet expectant at the same time.
As I walked down the stairs into the room the youth band was playing a song that just enveloped me. I could smell the most amazing aroma and as I entered the room my heart felt warm.
Alive. Loved. Worthy.
My life had meaning.
Of course, Jesus did not magically fix everything in my life.
I have made many mistakes in my life since then and I still make mistakes every day as a wife, as a mother, as a person and I cannot be held up to any kind of uber-christian standard. I swear way too much, I like to have a few drinks and at the moment I rarely go to church because I am just too darn tired after working all week and dealing with my kids. I am also pretty intolerant of those Christians (or otherwise) who don’t have love and acceptance for views other than their own and I can’t stand it when people blindly follow what other people say about religions without checking the facts for themselves.
But that day my life gained meaning.
And I gained a kind of freedom that I can’t explain or begin to understand.
My road has been long and hard and I still have a long way to go. Life is hard. It always is. Sometimes it feels like you can’t go on.
But you can go on.
It takes time and it takes courage and sometimes it takes a lot of people to help you along the way.
But you are worth it.
You are loved.