“To Be Or Not To Be” (On Contemplating Suicide)

ToBeOrNotToBe

(Photo Credit: BlueGum)

Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain.” – David Conroy

This for those who feel isolated, hopeless, in despair.  This is also for all the survivors of a loved one lost to suicide, and for all the survivors of the personal fight won against it. If you are here, you are meant to receive this message. Please read it all the way through.

There were 2 more suicides last week by students from the same high school from where my kids graduated a few years ago. This brings the total to 8 in the past 4 years. Although I don’t know the children or their stories, I feel the heartbreak as a mother, and as a person who has contemplated it many times in her past.

I was not really prepared to write about this yet. I have focused on the lessons from my life experiences, but not the experiences themselves, as untangling a wad of barbed wire is not only messy and painful, but difficult to know where to even begin. But I’m more unprepared to do nothing for those still contemplating whether or not they should continue to be. So let me tell you my story, just enough for you to understand that you are not alone in your suffering. And that it will get better.

*     *     *

MY JOURNEY OF CONTEMPLATION

I was always sensitive. Since I had such a loving, happy upbringing, I mostly felt the positive side of that sensitivity. I didn’t understand the other side of it in time to intercept the kind of excruciation that begged for mercy. When mercy didn’t come (and it often didn’t), the only consolation I perceived to have, with a head bloated with agony, was the choice to end it all.

After my little brother, Dedrick, got killed walking home from school, I lost all ability to cope. I was 16, a particularly unfortunate age for dark emotions, and I made the first attempt to end my life with a bottle of pills one morning before school. The plan was to die at school so that my parents wouldn’t have to find my body; I couldn’t bear to further traumatize them with the image of their dead daughter’s body after the loss of their son.

That day, I was calm for the first time since my brother’s death. There was a sense of relief, of finality, of resolve that all the darkness and pain would soon end. I gave a friend a farewell note, with instructions on the front to not open it until the end of the day. But at the beginning of the next class, a teacher came to get me, and an ambulance was called to rushed me to the hospital.

I was saved, and remorseful for the quiet pain that I saw in my parents as they tried to be extra gentle and loving with me.

But the pain hadn’t left; in fact, it got worse. A year later, I would get into an abusive relationship with a man who could not stand me being happy. He knew how to hurt me, and I didn’t know how to ignore him when he said things like, “Your brother died because you’re a bad person.”

The things that I went through in the 10 years trapped in that relationship had me feeling suicidal every single day. It got so bad that at one point, I remember fearing that even my extreme love for my beautiful, innocent children would not be enough to save me.  I resorted to whatever I needed to do to keep myself from taking my own life, in the event that being with that man didn’t kill me after all. One tactic was closing myself in the closet, sitting and rocking on the floor with my arms hugging my knees tightly, pretending that I was in a straitjacket, so that I could not move or get out until the fragile moment passed.

I would finally escape the relationship, but my sorrows were not done. It would be another decade of fears for my children’s safety, and heartaches from betrayals and judgments by other people.

So even though I was completely out of the relationship, the familiar feelings of overwhelm, of what did I do to deserve this, and of things will never get better, allowed the thoughts of suicide to barge back in. Then my precious children, the most loving, kind, sweet children a mother could ever dream to have, manifested the pains of their childhood years as the storm of adolescence rolled in.

This in itself almost killed me. I felt like a horrible mother, and blamed myself for the mistakes I made in my life that planted the seeds of despair in my children. And throughout all this, I was surrounded by toxic people.

And so, I lost my way, this time, from the inside-out. I stopped believing in myself. And I had nothing to give to my children to assure them that everything was going to be alright. The thought of suicide revisited me. It is very difficult to feel the point of living when you feel like an utter failure, and this can not be more deeply felt than as a parent who cannot help her children in dire need.

I sat one day, head in my hands, reviewing my life, my shortcomings, my terrible choices. I then realized that even if my children had shortcomings, made terrible mistakes, I would love them and know that they are worthy. I had to give this to myself, as well; how could they understand or believe it otherwise?

THE TRANSFORMATION

I forgave myself, as I would want my children to forgive themselves, to release self-blame, self-hatred, feelings of unworthiness. Then, I cleaned house.

  1. I cut out anything and anyone who did not honor or respect me. This was my defining act of self-respect, of placing boundaries, of breaking free from the chains of guilt and helplessness: my family, my in-laws, and more recently, my long-time BFF – all were fair game.
  2. I focused on love, not fear, specifically, love of myself and love of my children, the people I knew were unquestioningly deserving of it. This gave me direction and helped me disengage with drama mamas and downers.
  3. I gave to givers, not takers. This taught me to say “No” to users, so that I could preserve my generous, open heart for those who deserved it. It also gave me a sense of control of justice, which was lacking in my life throughout those trying years.
  4. I fed myself all things positive, from what I read and watched, which in turn transformed my thoughts and emotions and raised my overall well-being.
  5. I surrounded myself with only positive and genuine people. This changed my world from the outside-in, and rounded off the cycle to where I am today.

Oftentimes, we don’t understand the difficult things we go through. It seems so senseless, sometimes unnecessarily horrible. Why did my brother have to die? Why did I ever meet that cruel person? Why did my kids have to still struggle, when they were the most innocent?

Before my brother’s death, my father said someone who had strong intuitions had told him that when his daughter died, there would be a long line of people to pay respects, as far as the eye could see. In the nearly 20 years of hell that ensued, alone and hopeless, I had moments when I remembered that prediction, and I could not understand why she would say something so grossly wrong. I “knew” was going to die in that relationship. There was no hope for me, no way out; my life was over.

Had I followed through with that agenda, I would not be here now, writing to you to let you know that I made it. I wouldn’t be able to understand what you’re going through. I am writing from a positive place, but not disconnected from understanding that very dark, heavy, draining, hopeless place. I remember out of love for those who are going through it now. Yes, that includes you. I could not do this or feel this way had I not experienced it first.

Today, I am happy and stronger than ever, and have so much love in my life. If I had successfully ended my life back then, my children’s lives would have been destroyed. My little one, 6 today, would not have been born. All the people I have touched and eventually will come in contact with will have one less person to help and love them. It keeps growing, the goodness. Whether or not I have that long line of mourners after I move on, I live my life now with the joy of overflow in my heart, and it is a life well-lived.

I know you may not see this for yourself at this moment, and it’s understandable – you have valid reasons for feeling stuck. Keep in mind: you are just in a place right now where your pain exceeds your resources. You may also be in the wrong company. And your spirit is starving for positive nourishment and connection, which you may not be able to find within your circle. In fact, it is highly unlikely, because in the great big world, your circle is tiny. Venture for change.

YOUR FIRST STEPS INTO THE LIGHT

If I have one thing to recommend that you do, to start, it would be to surround yourself with GENUINE, positive, forward-moving people. Cut out all negative and otherwise unsupportive ones. It’s not being stuck-up, as I once used to think, to not allow such people in your life, even if they say they’re your friends, even if they are your family. You will heal and grow exponentially if you seriously change this part of your life, because the genuine, positive people will expose you to a lot of the other things that you need, and in your transformation, you will fill in the rest.

“Well if that’s the rule, why would these people want to hang out with me?” The genuine ones will not judge you. They will see that you want to be better, and they will want to increase the goodness in the world, and so help you. When you get to that stage in life, and you will if you keep going, you will also know who to help and who to let be.

“Where do I find them? I don’t feel like going out and meeting people.” I totally get it. I started by searching for answers through books and the internet. I found online groups of positive-minded people who were passionate, and realized the impact of being with the right people. They can’t just be “nice” – that can be a misleading 4-letter word. They have to be open, authentic, willing to be vulnerable, want to go places in life, and seek to help others.

The friends I’ve made online, I consider some of my best friends now – even though I haven’t met them because they are across the world. Now I have a compelling reason to travel!

LIFE CARDS

Life may deal you some seriously shitty hands—I know it did to me. But here are some “magic cards” for you to memorize and slap on the table anytime the hand gets particularly full of it:

Magic Ace: You are worthy, completely and unconditionally. Anything else that anyone tells you is a lie that you’ve been subscribing to. Surround yourself with positive, kind people who do not believe nor sell this distorted program. And get out of your own way – be a loyal fan of your highest self: Cheer loudly.

Magic Jack: You are a good person. You are simply at a stage where you feel lost and confused. Bad people never want to commit suicide; they lack a conscience required to have the kind of guilt and pain that comes with a suicidal mindset. You care so much that it hurts. That’s because, even through your mistakes, you are good person.

Magic Queen: You are loved. Even if it seems like your parents don’t care, or that your teachers don’t understand, or that you don’t have a single real friend, the truth is, you are loved. Sometimes, the people whom you wish to show you love are also at a place of struggle, where they don’t have the resource or ability to give you what you need. And sometimes they do, but when you are in such emotional pain, it is hard to see anything but a version of your pain, which reflects off of everything and everyone.

I don’t even know you, but when I thought about you in writing this post, I broke down and cried for you several times. It is because I understand your pain, and the thought of you going through what I went through hurts my heart deeply. So I write this from a place of immense love. Imagine how much love the people in your actual life have for you.

Magic King: Your pain is not your destiny; it is your preparation to help others. Your story is not over. You are just getting prepared for something greater than you can see. You are in boot camp, so keep going; when you get to the other side, you will find yourself stronger and more resourceful than you ever imagined. And then, pay it forward.

*     *     *

It was a long process for me to get to where I am today – it didn’t happen overnight. And it was grueling. Lots of loneliness, lots of fear, lots of doubt. But it was worth the fight. IT IS WORTH THE FIGHT.

Much Love,
Yazminh

Recommended: “Out of the Nightmare: Recovery from Depression and Suicidal Pain” – David L. Conroy, Ph.D.

, , , , , , , ,

17 Responses to “To Be Or Not To Be” (On Contemplating Suicide)

  1. Etienne March 6, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    This so powerful. Thank you for sharing and I grabbed my card . . . Magic King!

    • Yazminh AB March 6, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

      Thank you, Etienne. I know you’ll play that card well. 😉

  2. nutrikrystal March 6, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your words are very inspirational and took me back to a time in my life when I was in a dark place. I came out the other side after meting my husband who is my rock and my love. He helped me to rid myself of negative energy and move forward in a life of love. It is so important to surround ourselves with people who are positive, care for us, and treat us with respect. Thank you for reminding me how far I’ve come and to love the people I’ve surrounded myself with. Thank you for sharing your story to help people who are still struggling.

    • Yazminh AB March 6, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

      Hi Krystal,

      Thank you for reading and sharing your experience of triumph over darkness. There are so many people who face the idea of ending their lives in response to not knowing what else to do to make the pain stop. I hope to help dissolve the stigma over suicide and depression. Sometimes, it is a mental illness that needs medical help, but many times than not, it is a very natural response to traumatic incidents and toxic situations/people, particularly by sensitive people, that is pigeonholed into the “mental illness” category. This doesn’t mean that actually having a mental illness makes one inferior, but misdiagnosing through generalizing is another way of disregarding, the one thing that a person in pain does not need.

      In any case, thank you for your input, and I’m glad to hear that you have love and support surrounding you today.

      Yours truly,
      Yazminh

  3. Alex March 7, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

    Beautifully written, Yazminh. Thank you for sharing yourself so generously and transparently. It can be so hard to see any light at the end of some of those excruciatingly long tunnels, but your writing has lit a match to illuminate another way out.

    In lovingkindness,
    Alex

    • Yazminh AB March 7, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

      Thank you, Alex. I am in very good company nowadays. 😉

      ~Yazminh

  4. Michael Gerstein March 8, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

    I was on Live your legend creators, and I got here. The best, accurate, clear account of the journey, Yazminh. Many thanks. But I’m commenting because, as I read all thru, my desperation, frustration, for similar changes to yours, flared up again. It’s always there. After 72 years of severe PTSD from traumas, it’s hard to keep going in the recovery process. One thing helps cope; I still remember the few early years, before the pain began; being the true, healthy me. And hoping that me is still alive and well, to one day meet again, and to live with, helps keep me going. Not much else.

    • Yazminh AB March 8, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

      Dear Michael,

      Thank you for reading and commenting, and particularly for sharing your struggle. Honestly, if I did not have the circle of good people in my life that I do now, if I had not taken some drastic measures against people that were very close to me (which would be for another post…or several), if not for a combination of many fundamental discoveries and actions, I would be stuck in thinking there was no hope for real change.

      One thing that I didn’t mention, because this was not the post for it, was that I reconnected with my faith. But that is a personal journey, independent of religion, etc. I may write my thoughts on this in the near future.

      I’m so sorry that you have struggled with PTSD. I had a good friend who worked with battered women, who told me I had all the signs, but I was never officially diagnosed. I’m sure that I did, because I would be “stuck” in a space of emotional trauma memory often times. When I saw my kids going down that familiar road, it was like I literally snapped awake, and changed everything – my thought patterns, my reactions to stressors, my whole demeanor under stress. It was as if I was reprogramming my mind, and in doing so, changed the chemistry in my brain, and everything else followed.

      It’s not simple, I know. And I’m no physician, so please don’t take my word as anything official. My experience, however, tells me that, although useful in many, maybe most, instances, neither modern medicine nor science holds a monopoly on truth nor reality.

      That pure piece of yourself – that is what your essence is. That you remember and feel and hope means that that part of you is alive, albeit wrapped in layers of trauma memory, but looking earnestly at you to peel off those layers and set him free. Being present in today, finding the fight within you, taking care of your physical health, connecting with gratitude to the level that it squeezes out regret – these are ways that may help.

      You may also want to look into EFT (Tapping). I’ve heard that this can help with PTSD.

      One more thing to consider: you may be “emotionally panicking” when you start feeling sad, especially when you think you’re “past” it; this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, that you’re forever stuck to being a “depressed/traumatized person.” It is like we anticipate it, wrap our identity around it, and then when it comes, we are like, “I knew it!” I’ve found that this is part of my learned reaction to negative things, and I would slip into a deep sadness very easily. When I realized this, I started interrupting that thought pattern.

      If there are chemistry issues, maybe medication is the way to go. I know people whose lives have been saved by it. I also know some who’ve said it was terrible and numbing. So there is no absolute answer. But unless it interferes with your life and/or puts you or anyone else around you in danger, I’d start with faith, focus, and releasing of fear of failure, along with what I’ve shared. Check out the EFT, as well.

      Keep in touch with me, Michael – you can connect w/me through the LYL group. I’ll be sending good energy your way and keeping you in my thoughts.

      Truly,
      Yazminh

  5. Jeremy March 9, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    This was so hard for me to read… Hope I’m in a position to comment even though I’ve never been as low in life as you.

    The people around us really make a difference. I can’t stress that enough. And while we say that live relationships are important, sometimes that can still be really tough. Till today, I still don’t have any one person that I can see and meet physically who will tell me anything along the lines of,

    “Jeremy, I don’t care if the odds of succeeding are against you. Just keep going and don’t give up. Because what you do, it matters.” (not meant to be narcissistic)

    Not even my parents, of whom I secretly wish were my biggest fans on the bleachers.

    I’m grateful for the internet. Grateful for the connections made here. Even when it’s all “virtual.” And definitely grateful for having known you. You’ve made a difference.

    I know my situation might not be as bad (in fact I don’t think it’s bad at all) as anyone contemplating suicide. But life is relative. The point I’m trying to make here is that no matter what, the people around you has the power to raise you up or break you. And that no matter what, the internet IS still a very good option.

    • Yazminh AB March 9, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

      Hi Jeremy,

      Thank you for reading my post and for feeling for me.

      I do not have many physically around me (currently) who are aligned with my values and goals, either. A few, but most are long-distance. But I am in process of building good things for people, and I know that the good ones will come. And the connection we crave is not a physical one (not only, if so, anyways). It is a much deeper one, one where the purest part of ourselves can be free and open, and know that it will be safe, respected, even loved. It is all good.

      I can imagine how disappointing it can be for you to not have your parents’ support in the way that you wished. A quote that I lived by early on: “Sometimes you have to give yourself what you want others to give to you.” (When I looked it up, it was attributed to Dr. Phil, but I know that I read it from a book that was written by someone else; sorry I can’t give the correct original source.) My mother was very supportive when I was little, but after my brother’s death, something snapped in her. The things she would do to me in the latter decade would have had her put in jail by anyone else. That is another story. But the point is that after I distanced myself from her, I finally got to a place where I could see her with compassion and know that she was not mentally well to NOT try to harm me back then.

      And finally, I just want to say this last thing to you:

      Jeremy, I don’t care if the odds of succeeding are against you. Just keep going, and don’t give up. Because what you do, it matters. 🙂

      Love,
      Yazminh

      • Jeremy March 10, 2014 at 12:35 am #

        Thanks so much, Yaz! I truly appreciate it. That was really corny of you to repeat that last thing back to me, haha, but I teared upon reading it anyway. Thanks, it means a lot.

        • Yazminh AB March 10, 2014 at 12:55 am #

          Haha! Corny, but true. 🙂 Sorry for the tears; I hope there was a smile in there somewhere as well. 🙂

          Yours truly

  6. Sarah Miller March 14, 2014 at 12:20 am #

    im currently going through this right now in my life> and im having a really hard time trying to remove those thoughts from my mind> ive tried all of my “tools” in my tool box but i feel like everything is going down hill… I feel that i have worked really hard to not go back to where i am but it seemed that it has crawled back… what you have said in this beautiful blog is very touching and puts the thought in my mind that im not the only only going through this and there is a way to help feel better but i need to find it again. thank you for sharing your story with us.

    • Yazminh AB March 14, 2014 at 2:12 am #

      Sarah,

      I’m so sorry that you are in that space right now. I’m very glad that you took the time to reach out through reading my story, and through your comment. You are very courageous to fight – don’t let a blink of a moment’s knee-jerk to respond to pain win. There is something inside of you that wants to live. I believe that. Even when I wanted to die, somewhere, many layers under, I knew I didn’t want to die. I just wanted the pain to stop, but I didn’t know how to make it stop.

      I have not really shared that part of my life (my suicidal days) until this blog. People close to me knew that I went through difficult times (partly because a lot of them were the source), but no one knew about “the struggle.” I know how it feels to be with people and feel utterly alone; I’ve had family and friends snub me because they didn’t really want to hear about my woes, even. I was always very compassionate for others, but didn’t get the same in return. Over time, I learned that I simply wasn’t in the right company for healing.

      Sometimes people are not being mean, rude, or insensitive on purpose – they just don’t have any frame of reference to communicate with someone who is in such pain. My husband is a good man, but he has never experienced the desire to commit suicide, and cannot relate even to the depth of my emotions (actually, any of them). Fortunately, I don’t need him to understand, because I’m no longer in that place, and know that I never will be again. It was a decision that I’d made. I took back control of that aspect of my thinking. Trust me, it was not easy, so please don’t think that I’m saying it lightly. But living in hell was not easy either, and in the end, LOVE WINS. If we allow it to.

      I’m sharing all of this to let you know that I understand. I don’t know your story, and I’m not a “professional,” but I know how it feels, the weight of it, the endlessness of it, the hopelessness of it when in that place, and I’m here. For people like you, I insisted that I would figure out a way one day to get out of that black fog, and meanwhile, I would just keep moving forward.

      There’s a lot I could write on this subject, and I may elaborate more in greater detail in the future. If so, I will return to this article and note so.

      Sarah, you can do hard things. I will send you a quick email; feel free to reply, or not – no obligation at all – just an option to speak to someone who understands and cares.

      It is past 2a now, and I must get to bed, as I have to be up in a few short hours for my little one. Stay present, in body and mind, and use your magic cards as much as you need – their powers never expire – you just have to use them.

      W/Love,
      Yazminh

  7. Lik September 30, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    You are an amazing, wise, kind and generous person, Yaz. I am very grateful that you made it.

    And even as I begin to feel lighter, hopeful and curious about my future these days… I think I’ll take the Magic Ace for now. Some unconditional worthiness could be healing.

    Thank you!

    • Yazminh September 30, 2015 at 11:53 am #

      Thank you, Lik. Hope you are doing well. Yes – grab your Magic Ace – you can’t lose w/that one! 🙂

      XOXO,
      Yazminh

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. “To Be Or Not To Be” (On Contemplating Suicide) | Diary of Being Frank: A Crass Course in Living Authentically | Loss, Grief, Transitions and Relationship Support - March 14, 2014

    […] “To Be Or Not To Be” (On Contemplating Suicide) | Diary of Being Frank: A Crass Course in Living…. […]

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes