A Suicide Attempt Teaches Many Lessons (If You’re Lucky Enough To Survive)
What does the above photo have to do with the topic of today’s post?
Ultimately, a ton. In the late summer of 2011, as my wife rushed me to the local hospital emergency room, I was empty. I had just tried to hang myself like my Brother Ryan had a few years earlier (a horrifying and still-haunting experience that has killed a part of everyone who knew him), and as strong as I’d been throughout my life, as much as I was stubbornly and fiercely determined to prove myself after making some big personal mistakes, I needed help.
Severe Depression Makes The Truth Hard To See
I had to learn to get out of my own way, and that would take work in therapy to understand why I kept having the issues I did, challenges within that were literally tearing me apart in a storm of determination and being so hard on myself that it literally exhausted me, resulting in giving up, feeling furiously fed-up with myself.
I stopped myself from sinking my body weight any further into the home gym cable around my neck, both because it hurt so much and because my wife was upstairs on the third floor in her office, working. She had stood by me – she sacrificed a lot to help me better myself. I didn’t want her to discover my body, as hell-bent as I was to put a damn end to the battle known as my life.
I also didn’t want to become the third son to die young. My Dad simply couldn’t take it. We both knew the sheer terror of witnessing my Brother Ryan’s dead body. I had to give it a chance, wave the white flag, and at least give professionals the chance to help. I had nothing else to lose – literally.
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
Going through the shame and embarrassment of having my wife sit with me in the emergency room, waiting for the specialists and security staff to escort me to the basement psych ward was necessary for my survival – in hindsight, a small price to pay to be able to take my life back one baby step at a time and eventually end up signing a book deal for my story, becoming a globally-recognized voice for ADHD and mental health advocacy.
I still have to pinch myself at times, I’m so incredibly, deeply grateful. It has taken a lot of understanding, effort and self-compassion to arrive at this current place, however. It does NOT come easy, and nothing worthwhile ever usually does.
My point is that by taking the chance, swallowing my pride and seeking help, I was able to learn new ways to deal with the feelings I was feeling so intensely, my past mistakes and my sense of failure in life, trying many things and never succeeding at any of them, sticking them out for long (when the work got too hard and I quickly lost interest, for example).
You MUST keep an open mind to the reality that you don’t know it all, that there just might be a whole new world out there for you to pursue after you dust yourself off and learn a new approach to daily life, a more empowering and positive way of looking at your life, despite outward appearances.
The Hardest Moments (Very) Often Teach Us The Most Courage
It has become very, very clear to me that after we make it through hard times, the ones that really leave us scared, scarred and shaken, we can choose to take a step back, look at them objectively and with total self-forgiveness (even if tears flood out, which is in itself an incredibly healing experience). Then, we can see lessons that we can learn from that will shape our future in a better way.
It might sound simple, and often times it isn’t, but it works with repetition and being committed to bettering yourself and your life, step by step.
Our thought and behavior patterns can literally make or break us in life, so you’ve got to be open to learning about yourself, your patterns, the patterns you were raised with, the people you associate with, your “self-talk” and more. It takes effort and it’s absolutely life-changing. Like any muscle, you have to work it to grow and keep it healthy. Some folks need medication to help stabilize the mind, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of! In fact, be proud that you’re doing what it takes to better your life, but don’t simply depend on pills alone – that’s where some make a BIG mistake. You have to put in the work to really have lasting change and success in any area of life.
I learned these points and a lot more from trying to kill myself. Sure – I knew about some of them before my attempt, but holy crap did this experience ever drive them home, like a bullet to my soul, in a manner of speaking.
I’ll never, ever bullshit people. I have been there, and I have experienced the horror of seeing my brother, the one I had a close bond with, taken away in a body bag while the neighborhood looked on. I will read my up-coming book to him and let him know that I’m working hard to help others know you aren’t alone.
Wait – he probably already knows…
Yours in purpose and gratitude for the hardest times (as much as they broke myself and others around me in moments),