*Content Warning: The below memoir contains content and conversations around suicide. In honor of raising awareness for suicide prevention week, please read as feels appropriate for your individual needs.
Subtitle: An open letter to my younger self in honor of Suicide Prevention Week
I first remember considering suicide when I was 11 years old. Flash forward two years, and 13-year-old me was sitting in my school social worker’s office pouring out my heart, asking for help.
My parents took me to a therapist and a psychiatrist. It took 6 years throughout high school and most of college in therapy, inpatient, relapse, repeat, followed by 3 years of active recovery to get to where I am now. Recently, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on my recovery as I am in this relatively newfound phase of stability. During my reflection, I wrote the below letter to my younger self:
My dear younger self,
You are alive.
I bet you’re wondering, ‘how did I make it that far?’
The answer is that I’m not entirely sure. My desire to escape for a moment, to shut out the pain, to die turned into my desire to live so gradually that I almost didn’t notice when it happened.
I know you’re wondering if the feelings you are having now will ever go away. I can’t lie to you and say that you never think about suicide sometimes because you do. But these days the thoughts of suicide are rare, fleeting, and easily ignored.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry that life feels so heavy sometimes that you don’t want to see it the next day. I’m sorry for how tired and hurt you are and I’m sorry for all the times when you don’t even feel the hurt anymore and how scary that is.
I want to give you permission to have darkness. You are not broken because you have darkness. You are not flawed because you are lonely or scared.
But can I ask you to do something for me? Can you tell someone how you’re feeling? Your therapist, or your mom, or your brother, or your friend, or your teacher, or your coach. Tell them so that they can share in this loneliness with you. Tell them so that they can be there for you. I know you are scared, but when you do tell them… they help you.
The best thing we ever did was ask for help. Our healing started once we were willing to be honest with yourself and those who care about us when we were struggling so that they could help us.
I know you dream of a day when you are ‘healed.’ But I’m here to tell you that is not how healing works. Healing is not linear, and it is not finite. So, here is the truth: I am not healed, but I am healing. I am in a newly reached sort of remission. I still struggle. I go to counseling. I take medications. I try to do things that make me happy. And most of those things work, most of the time.
I am not sure that everything happens for a reason, but I do know that you were meant to live through those days that felt unlivable. This life is yours to grow in, to heal in, and to be alive in.
So, here’s our story: we’re still in the middle of it. But we are alive and want to be alive. And now, you, me… we’re a more alive version of us than I have ever seen.
I have you to thank for my life. Because my dear self, you know that you have not yet lived as long as you are meant to live.
If you or a loved one needs help, here are some resources:
National Urgent Concern Resources
Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
- Use the online Lifeline Crisis chat
Connect 24/7 to a crisis counselor by texting the Crisis Text Line Text HOME to 741741.
*For severe or potentially life-threatening medical or mental health emergencies, call 911, go to a local hospital emergency room, or call campus police at 919-962-8100.
UNC Non-Emergency Campus Resources
Contact Counseling and Psychological Services at UNC:
- Call the 24/7 phone line: 919-966-3658
- For non-emergencies, email firstname.lastname@example.org with general questions
LGBTQ Center: email@example.com, (919) 843-5376
Student Wellness: firstname.lastname@example.org , (919) 962-9355