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Keep Holding On

Rebecca Hilliard

Guest Blogger

When I was in my twenties I was really suicidal. I had a terrible therapist who was making things worse, not better, but I was too afraid to change therapists. He was my first one and I didn’t have any other therapists to compare him to so I didn’t know he was a bad therapist. I thought it was my fault that I kept getting worse and worse and darker and darker. I have an amazing therapist now and looking back I can see how harmful my time with him was. But I didn’t know that then. I so often wish that I had never had him as a therapist. I always wonder how those years would have been if I’d had a good therapist like I do now.
During those years I was living with my parents because I couldn’t afford to move out yet, but I felt like I had to hide everything from them. For some reason I didn’t feel emotionally safe enough to tell them that I was suicidal or self harming and that staying alive was really hard. I felt embarrassed and ashamed so I always put on a smile when I was around them. When I was around anyone. I spent hours by myself in my room because trying to hide how I was feeling when I was around people was so exhausting. It felt safer in my room.
There is one night that has always stood out to me from that period of time. I was really struggling, in a really dark place, and I started taking action on my plan to end my life. Part of me was afraid to do it, though, so I called my therapist but he didn’t answer because he thought I was ‘attention seeking.’ Which in a way I was because I needed help not ending my life. I felt like I couldn’t keep myself safe and he just chalked it up to me making it up to get attention from him. It still makes me so upset to think about and for many years afterwards I was afraid to ask for help because I didn’t want people to think I was making it up just for attention.
Since he didn’t respond to me that night, I continued with my plan. There was a very high bridge about 15 minutes from my house that goes out over the water. I drove there, taking my phone with me in case my therapist decided to call. The bottom of the bridge was in a sketchy area and it was dark out but I didn’t care. I parked in a construction zone and started walking up the bridge. Barefoot, because in my emotional state I had forgotten to put on shoes. On my way up, part of me was looking forward to the freedom I would have and the other part of me was terrified. I made it to the top and stared down at the dark water. I couldn’t see a thing down there. I wondered what would happen to my body. Would anybody find it? Or would it be lost to the murky waters forever? For some reason the thought of that scared me. I didn’t want my body to be lost forever.

I stood there, hoping that someone else would walk by and ask if I was OK. But no one did. I was on my own. I stood there for so long, in the dark, staring at the water, trying to decide if I should stay or go. It would have been so easy to just jump over. But I was also so afraid. I just couldn’t get myself to do it. So after a while I walked back down to my car, hating myself for not being able to go through with it. Thinking I was so weak. Feeling like I failed. And feeling especially trapped because staying alive felt like torture but I couldn’t go through with ending my life. This wasn’t one of those ‘I almost killed myself but didn’t and I was so glad afterwards’ moments. I remained suicidal for years after this night and had many other 'almost' attempts.

But it’s been 8 years since then. And I can tell you today that now I am glad I am still alive. It took going to treatment multiple times, finding a better therapist, and years of hard work, but the suicidal thoughts have lost their power over me. I no longer want to die or escape my life. Sometimes, if I’m feeling really overwhelmed the thoughts will sneak back in but I have a therapist who listens now, and the thoughts never last for long. I still struggle with my mental illness and I still have a lot of work to do but not being tortured by suicidal thoughts anymore is amazing.
I don’t know you personally and I don’t know what’s going on in your life so I won’t say that things ‘will’ get better for you but I know that they ‘can.’ No matter how you are feeling right now there is always the chance that things can get better. Always. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how dark and terrible things feel. There is always the possibility that it can get better. I hope that’s a good enough reason for you to hold on a little bit longer. That and the fact that there are people who care and want to help.

The crisis text line is a great support. It’s free and anonymous and you can text them anytime at 741-741. TWLOHA.com can help you find a therapist and they have scholarships if you can’t afford to pay for one. And of course the WhiteFlag App is full of support as well from people who are going through or have been through the same things as you. There are a lot of people there who will understand how you feel. You are not alone. There is hope, even if you don’t feel it. I hope you keep holding on. You are worth it.

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