I’ve often heard people say you should make the best out of a difficult situation, that’s easier said than done. How many of us can say, yes I walked through my own hell and now I’m here to tell my story. Not just tell a story, but to tell it without fear of consequence even with overwhelming guilt. Since my overdose, that was always my concern, I’d share my story and people shy away from me, or just not have a new acquaintance become a friend. I think for anyone who carries a secret, these thoughts are normal.
When I met Kerry in 2013, I had no idea that meeting her would help me to grow into the person I’m becoming today. We met through another military spouse on the beach in Waikiki one afternoon, and I knew immediately she was someone I’d like to get to know. She was friendly, and had a beautiful smile. That goes a long way, it can show you someones heart, and over the last year I’ve been blessed to know Kerry has an amazing one. When I read a post on her Facebook about her stepson’s death by suicide, I was sad for her family, but I knew she had been brought into my life for a reason. There is a post dedicated to her (A wicked friend) because of the impact she has had on me. I did my first Out of the Darkness (OOTD) walk last year at Kaka’ako Beach here on Oahu after meeting Kerry. She was determined to get the ball rolling to have a chapter for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) on the Hawaiian islands.
The weeks that led up to that walk were very difficult for me, which I have also shared in another blog (Walk with a purpose). What I really haven’t shared is in the days leading up to the walk were the panic attacks I suffered. I love to run, it has been a way for me to have alone time and clear my head. During runs I think about how I will handle future situations, how I could have better handled past situations, trying not to dwell on them, but to learn and grow. Basically, I’m talking to myself. While running I started to allow myself to think of years, months and weeks that led to my intentional overdose. As I started to play this out in my head, I remembered other events and circumstances that I had buried. I was also thinking of Melissa another committee member who had lost her brother Ian to suicide and she was a guest speaker at the 2013 OOTD walk. I started to put myself in those shoes of what would I say, could I say the words out loud? As I started to “tell my story” in my head, I began to have shortness of breath, what I imagine suffocating would feel like. I’ve often caused myself to have a side stitch while running so I can learn to run through even the worst of them, so I employed the same techniques to calm myself down. It worked, within a few minutes I was breathing normally again. I have learned that even though running, whether on the treadmill or the street brings me calm and relief, reciting my story in my head while running isn’t a good idea just yet.
The walk for 2014 is under way (Donate to my walk) and Kerry and I have had discussions about me being a guest speaker. This is something I want to do, I think it will be helpful to me, and maybe someone else in the audience. I think it must be “normal” on some level to feel this way, as I think about how I could not be here to tell my story, that someone else would be sharing their story trying to heal the pain of loss. I would be a liar if I said I never thought of suicide again, and that I don’t still struggle sometimes today. Whether it is sadness, guilt or just self-deprecation, I do worry that I will one day again be overwhelmed by my “inner demons”. I have found putting myself out there, sharing my story makes me accountable to stay alive.
I occasionally think of what it would have been like for my husband and son had I been successful that night. How would their lives have carried on, what pain I would have caused them. In the years since I know what pain my attempt caused, but what if I had actually died that night. I sometimes need to allow myself a few moments to let the thoughts pass, and find a way to celebrate that I am alive. These are the things I focus on today, family.
I do hope with this difficult time in my life, and being in a more positive mental space now, I can take the situation and use it for a good!