Sharing a suicide story: Recovery is in the telling
Suicide has had an impact on my life since I was a young child. My grandfather completed suicide when I was just 5 years old. I saw the impact on my family from a child’s eyes, but the true depth of that impact wouldn’t come to pass until later in life. Today, I am blessed enough to say that I am truly in recovery from both mental illness and a substance use disorder.
I thought about suicide often in childhood. I was intrigued by it somehow. I saw power in it and a control that I lacked in my life. My first attempt came at 13 years old. I had been taking speed in pill form that I got from a friend, and I liked having that control over my body. But when my “first love” ended our relationship, I wanted the control over the pain that I felt. Taking a large amount of speed, I hoped I would die because I craved the absence of pain. I began engaging in self-harm, and through my early teens, there were two more overdose attempts. I had also found love in other drugs and alcohol because they provided me the ability to change how I felt.
I still struggle with suicidal thoughts. It is an unwelcome companion when life shows up in its many forms. At times, it takes me by surprise, and other times, it appears just when I expect that it might.
Once my addiction really took over my life, and just before I stopped using drugs, suicide became my daily goal. My intention everyday was to get enough heroin into my veins so that I could slip “peacefully” into a permanent slumber. On two separate occasions, I came very close to achieving this goal, and it was fellow drug users, armed with Narcan kits from the needle exchange, who ultimately saved my life.
Now though, even fully immersed in recovery, I still struggle with suicidal thoughts. It is an unwelcome companion when life shows up in its many forms. At times, it takes me by surprise, and other times, it appears just when I expect that it might. Initially, it made me doubt my recovery all together, but now I know that it is no more than a symptom of the mental illness that I am proud to be recovering from!
I chose to share my story because there is hope. Recovery doesn’t mean that I won’t ever struggle or even experience symptoms. My recovery is the process that I use to get through the struggle and overcome the symptoms. By talking about thoughts of suicide, or any other symptom, I take my power back. Silence breeds stigma, and my recovery grows in the light of honest sharing.