With the planning under way for the 2nd annual Out of the Darkness walk in Hawaii, I’m excited; this is in opposition of last year, where I was unsure and afraid. Some people may know my story and how I came to be part of the OOTD walk last year, either way I hope this can inspire you to join or donate to a walk.
In March 2011 I took sleeping pills in an attempt to take my own life. I felt so low, like nothing I did was right, suicide seemed the easiest way to deal with my sadness. I didn’t think about who I would be hurting in the process. Three years later I am still here and grateful that I didn’t die that night. I’m happy I can finally feel free to share my story.
One day my a friend Kerry shared on Face book about the death of her step-son Justin, I had no idea he had taken his own life. Seeing that he would have been celebrating his 21st birthday, as a parent I knew they were missing this milestone because my son was about to celebrate his 21st birthday. I found that post heroic, and it made me think one day maybe I could be so brave. In my experience it was easier to hide in shame rather than share anything that involved the word suicide, especially on social media. Justin had taken his life, so Kerry and her family took action.
My husband usually jumps on board with anything that I want to do and when I mentioned attending a committee meeting, he agreed to go. We attended our first meeting and walked away wondering what had we just signed up for. We showed up hit and miss, and I usually ended up coming home and drinking because it was easier than being honest with myself. Coming in a few weeks after the committee had formed, I only knew Kerry’s story, but based on conversations I came to understand I was the only attempt survivor sitting at the table. I was so overwhelmed with guilt and sadness thinking any of these people could be my husband or my son had I died that night. Sadly, this went on for several months, I felt guilt having attempted suicide and I was drinking to hide my pain; I felt trapped in a vortex of guilt, alcohol and sadness.
With the event just days away, I let Doug know that I’ll go to the park, but then I would have to step away, I felt more destructive than before I had started this process. I called Kerry, and I let her know that I would be at the walk, but I was done after that, I just mentally could not go through it again. She was understanding, and said she would support me as she promised from the time I had initially shared my attempt story. Furthermore, I told her that I did not want to show up to the committee celebration dinner, she didn’t make me feel bad, she just supported me.
My hope in being at the event was simple, to get through it without feeling immense guilt. With hesitation I made it, just hoping to get through it without much shame. At one point Kerry walked with me to the bead table to put on the appropriate “colors”, she said to wear the green beads if I wanted, but no pressure. We stood there with tears in our eyes as I placed them around my neck. I went back to my designated station and my volunteer asked me about the beads, and I shared that I had attempted suicide and she gave me a hug and said I was an inspiration to her! What? I had feared for over two years that people would back away from me in disgust, looking at me like a monster. When that didn’t happen, I felt an incredible weight lifted off my heart and mind. After the opening ceremony, we walked and I helped carry the banner. My husband acted like he was taking pictures of a child riding a bike for the first time, running ahead capturing images.
Walking Kaka’ako Beach Park 2013
Melissa, another committee member that lost her brother to suicide encouraged me to come to the post walk dinner, the one I already decided I wouldn’t be attending. We had one car in the shop and Doug had a crisis at work that had him going in all weekend, it was an easy excuse to stay home. She didn’t know my story, and I didn’t know her well, but I relented and in that short car ride, I managed to open up and share my story. We made it to the restaurant and she assured me that my story is important, it can help someone, and in the process it can help me heal. She was nothing short of loving and kind. Melissa is not just a committee member, she is my friend, she is part of my healing and she will forever have a place in my heart. I am glad I attended the celebration, it allowed me to feel I could move forward and step out of the darkness.
The walk last year started my journey, I can sit here today proud to share my story, and know this is just beginning, a new chapter in my life. I am grateful for the amazing committee last year that made me feel welcome even when I didn’t think I belonged. The walk transformed how I felt about my guilt and shame, and more importantly who I am and what I am learning about myself. I am not proud of my actions that night or the years after, but I can be happy with the decisions I’m making moving forward.
The Out of the Darkness walks can be inspiring and informative, and hopefully help someone else begin to heal. The walk will impact everyone in a personal way, my hope is you will find peace and comfort at one of these amazing events. Whether you are suffering with depression, have lost someone to suicide or you have attempted or battled with that yourself, there is help and healing. Look for the light at the end of the tunnel.
True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island… to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing.~~Baltasar Gracian
I started this journey with an amazing crew