Today’s food for thought is a bit heavier. And real life is heavy and messy sometimes. We all experience struggles and challenges at different points in our lives, and sometimes hearing the stories of others can help.
I attempted suicide when I was 20.
In some ways, it was a halfhearted attempt. I didn’t really want to die on some level, though I did want the pain to stop. And kind of funny-interesting: one of the major things that contributed to my depression (worrying about what others thought of me/looking for my value outside of myself) was a major part of what saved me in that moment.
Right after I took the pills, I thought: “What did I just do?” I wondered what others would think, what my family would think, how I could do it. (This was what had kept me going in school too, getting me up (most days) to get to class and do the work. Because I couldn’t not do work. That was unthinkable and not an option in my mind.) How funny — my boxes, at that point, in time helped to save me in a way in that moment. And on the suicide attempt end, the thoughts from looking outward propelled me up and out; I ran and got help. I didn’t want to die. I was just really hurting — and really, really wanted some help.
I don’t know if there is anything anyone could have said that would have helped then. And maybe that was the point — I didn’t need anyone to “fix” things for me or “fix” me (though at the time I would have grasped at a quick fix if I could have summoned the energy). I was the only one who could help myself — when I was ready to do it.
I needed to get that I wasn’t broken and had never been. And this is a lesson I see repeating itself again and again in my life even today, in wide-ranging areas (relationships to work — to pretty much everywhere else). I spent so much time struggling, thinking something was wrong with me. And then it hasn’t been until I’ve started to consider that maybe I don’t need to “fix” myself or that maybe I’m not bad/wrong/broken that anything has changed.
How much do we tell ourselves we’re broken? I know there are messages outside of ourselves saying this all over the place. “Take this! Fix those problem areas! Buy this and then you can smile and laugh like all of us in this commercial!!” And if we’re not firm in our boundaries (having learned/relearned the whole boundary thing), the goop/yuck/ick seeps, oozes, slams into us.
An interesting thought: maybe the contrast of feeling the goop overtake me was huge, important, and somehow necessary. It was contrast. With little to no boundaries, I found myself hating my life. It took seeing, feeling, living in the contrast to see what I didn’t want so I could start to think, see, and feel what I did want.
This contrast — maybe it’s not something to fear, in our lives or in our teens’ lives. Maybe, just maybe, it’s a sort of gift.