If You’re Thinking About Suicide – Please Read This First
I have struggled with whether or not to share this with you, but if it helps even just one person, then it will be worth it. If you're thinking about suicide, read this first:
UPDATE: 12/7/2021 - As we continue to navigate through life after the stresses of a global pandemic, the loss that so many of us have experienced in the last almost two years, along with the economic stress & social isolation that has come with social distancing and now, reintegrating back into some kind of new normal, there has been a dramatic decline in mental health for a lot of people and an increase in substance abuse relapse.
According to the World Health Organization, suicide claims a life every 40 seconds somewhere in the world. In the United States, it is the 10th leading cause of death and the suicide rates statistically are significantly higher in adults over the age of 45. Nine years ago, I was almost part of the statistics.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says that men are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women. They also say that one in 12 people suffer from substance abuse and that 22% of people who commit suicide are under the influence of alcohol and 20% of people who commit suicide have opiates, including prescription pain killers in their system.
I have been incredibly transparent about my struggles with alcohol and my recovery from addiction in hopes that it might help someone else. Today, I am 3,251 days sober and every single day, good or bad is a gift. My hope is that by being open and honest about my own struggles, that it might find its way to someone who needs to hear that they are not alone and that there is help. You can read my story below. I originally shared it in 2017 after the passing of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington.
If you need help, it's available. Call 800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741.
Original post: 12/7/17 - When I heard the news of Chris Cornell taking his own life earlier this year, I almost wrote this... and when I heard about Chester Bennington taking his life a few months later, again I almost wrote this... It is no secret that both men battled addiction prior to their deaths. Yesterday it was released that Chester Bennington's autopsy revealed that he had alcohol in his system and today I am finally writing this. I am currently trembling as I try to find the strength, courage, and grace to type this out, but I feel like it's necessary. I feel like there is someone somewhere who needs to hear my story.
You know me as the voice on your radio or maybe we've met and I shook your hand or gave you a hug with a smile. Maybe you follow me on social media and see glimpses of my presently happy life... but it hasn't always been that way. This morning while scrolling through my "On This Day" memories on Facebook, I was smacked in the face with photos from 5 years ago, the night that I celebrated my 34 birthday.
See, I have battled depression and anxiety for most of my life. I have been medicated for both a few times. There was a point in time where I had to carry medication with me everywhere I went just in case I had a panic attack. It runs in my family. I remember being quite young and my mother grabbing my hand and rushing out of the store leaving a nearly full shopping cart behind because she was in the throes of a panic attack. It's in my DNA. During that time, I also was drinking... not daily - at least not yet, but pretty regularly and always heavily. That is in my DNA too.
I would drink to the point of blackouts nearly every time I drank. I was drinking to cover the way that I felt on the inside. I felt like I was alone in the world - despite the fact that I was a mother, despite the fact that I had a number of wonderful friends - I felt alone. I could quite literally be in a room with a hundred people and still feel completely and utterly alone. I also was very good at pretending that I was okay so that on the outside, I looked happy to most people. In fact, you'd never really know that I hated myself or the life that I was living.
The night of December 7, 2012, after the merriment and revelry of a night spent drinking with friends in celebration of my upcoming 34th birthday, I was drunk and alone and those feelings of loneliness took over. Those same old feelings - that I wasn't good enough, that I was a burden to the people who did care about me, that the only thing I was good at was hurting people and that this world would be better off without me.
Those feelings crept in and I believed them. And it hurt. My god it hurt! In that moment of desperation, I was in so much emotional pain, I felt like I was being ripped apart from the inside out. If you've never felt this way, count your blessings, but if you have - you know the exact feeling that I am talking about - and in that moment, all you want it to do is stop. So I tried to end it all. If I had fallen asleep, I would not have woken up and in that moment, that was exactly what I wanted. To just not wake up. To not feel anything anymore. I even prayed for it. I begged a god that I didn't even necessarily believe in to "help me" because I just didn't want to hurt anymore. It was only a few minutes later that someone found me. God (the universe, whatever you want to call it) helped me and just in time. My lips had started to turn blue...
Like Chris Cornell & Chester Bennington and countless others both in and out of the proverbial spotlight, I also have struggled with addiction. It was a little over a month after my attempt at ending my own life that I took my last drink. At that point, I was a daily drinker, but almost no one knew it. I am currently 1,790 days sober. After 5 years you'd think I would just delete those old photos but I can't bring myself to do it. Every year, I remember... I remember how lost and alone I felt (Thank god feelings aren't facts and that I know this now!!!) and I also remember how amazing life has become since that night and the last miserable weeks that I was still active in my alcoholism.
In the last 5 years, I have learned how to let go of the people and things that are no good for me. I have watched my daughter grow: learning how to drive, graduating high school, and going off to college. I have made countless memories with her that include road trips, concerts, cuddles, laughter, and tears - memories that I will forever cherish. She finally has the mom that she deserves. I have embraced my friendships. I have found a life free of alcohol and I have found a life where I feel grateful to be alive rather than like I am a burden to others. The most incredible miracle may be that I actually like the person that I am today! Those photos remind me of just how far I have come and how much I have to be grateful for in my life. I cried tears of relief and joy this morning as I got ready for my day.
If you feel like you are all alone, remember feelings are not facts! You are not alone. If you are battling addiction, you are not alone. If you are having suicidal thoughts, you are not alone. Let me say it again - You. Are. Not. Alone. I hope that sharing this with you will help you to realize that you are not alone and it does get better! There is hope and there is help.
If you struggle with substance abuse there are a number of programs and resources available to you locally and they are easy to find if you want them. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please pick up a phone. Call a friend, a family member, or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK(8255). You can also use the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. If you are struggling, remember you are not alone.
If you would like to make a donation to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, you may do so by visiting AFSP.org.