I Decided to Die and Found a New Life
I want you to go back to a time in your life when you were very young. This may be a time that you remember vividly or it could be a bit fuzzy. You may be thinking of memories in your youth that involved having fun, playing outside, running around and enjoying life.
You may have been fortunate enough to grow up with parents who loved you, took you on vacations and spoiled you on special occasions. There might be some of you who had the opposite experience, where the people who were supposed to care for you most didn’t care much at all.
Whether you came from a relatively picture-perfect family or struggled with the opposite, there were most likely times in your life when you weren’t all that happy. Even with the best family, there are still periods of sadness and strife.
Some of you may have been bullied on the playground, struggled with the death of a loved one or never felt good enough.
Although my story involves parents who did their best, there was also a lot of suffering in my childhood. When I was a kid I had a really hard time. From a young age, I had been mistreated in ways that I pray no other child ever has to experience (and sadly many do). Without going into detail, I will say that I grew up with a lot of pain, anger, frustration and a feeling of being trapped and not being able to get out.
The Bad Kid
I was THAT kid, you know the one that teachers didn’t want in their class. I didn’t like rules and never wanted to conform to the correct behavior warranted by the teacher in charge. I wanted it to be my way — it was the only thing I felt I had any control over.
Because of my pain, I physically hurt other kids and didn’t have a lot of friends. With this inappropriate behavior, people didn’t want to be around me. Kids didn’t like me and parents didn’t want their kids to play with me. I still remember the first day of grade 5 when a new classmate’s mom complained to the teacher that she didn’t want her daughter in my class. She didn’t know I was within earshot — and it hurt deeply. The combination of not feeling good at home and being excluded at school was enough to make me feel very depressed.
I never felt good enough. I didn’t know how to control my behavior. I didn’t feel like I had the support I desperately wanted and needed. I felt completely unworthy of anything good that life had to offer.
I had experienced different types of abuse and I believe that a lot of my behavior as a child came out of these acts toward me. I repeated what had been done to me and at the time I didn’t know any different.
It’s amazing what behaviors will manifest when we are hurting inside. There is a saying “Hurt people hurt people” — that was definitely me.
It was a tough life for a long time.
Planning to Escape the Pain
I was so depressed and didn’t know how to escape the turmoil, abuse and sadness so I created ways to do that. Some were simple avoidance, others involved running away and a lot of the time I pretended I didn’t care.
By the time I was 12 years old I knew a lot more about the world and my options to stay in it, or not. I began to dream of the ultimate escape — not being alive anymore. I knew the pain would stop if I was dead.
I didn’t think I’d hurt anybody because nobody loved me anyway (at least in my experience). I was a bad kid and I wouldn’t be missed — in fact it would be better for others because I would no longer be a burden.
I began planning.
I wrote many suicide notes over 4 years, knowing that one day someone would find me dead and want an explanation. I penned out all my thoughts and feelings. I expressed anger and sadness. I blamed the people who had hurt me. I wrote about feeling unloved, unwanted and the belief that things could never get better. I knew this was the right decision, yet I didn’t have the means to kill myself.
There were so many days I wished we carried guns in our house. “If I had a gun”, I thought, “I could make it quick and easy”. The last thing I wanted was for my death to hurt and to end up suffering more pain that I needed to. I wanted my death to be quick and as painless as possible.
I began researching and checking out ways to get my hands on a gun. At 12 years old, and with no such thing as the internet, there aren’t many options unless you know someone who owns one. I didn’t.
So, I just kept writing and planning, living in a fantasy world where I could eventually escape from all the pain. I dreamed of the day when the agony would be over and I would no longer be a burden on the people in my life.
Choosing to Die
The years went by and I was in my mid-teens. I had some good friends, however I didn’t believe they really loved me. I felt they would leave in an instant if I didn’t show up a certain way. I didn’t like to talk about what was going on inside me. I put on a happy face and pretended everything was fine.
I only spoke to my best friend about my true feelings. Nearly every night she would listen to me cry and talk about how much I wanted to die. She was an amazing support to me. After years of calling her nearly every night and sharing my sadness, there was one night when she was out with her boyfriend and couldn’t talk. This was before the invention of cell phones so there was no way for me to get a hold of her. I called a few other close friends and told them I was struggling — they listened and did what they could. I still didn’t think they really cared about me.
That was the night I decided to die. I was 16 years old. I went downstairs into the cupboard and took out every jar of pills we had. I had heard that swallowing pills was the best way to end a life painlessly when something faster wasn’t available, so that’s what I chose.
I went back to my room with over 100 pills and swallowed them 10 at a time. I took out my most recent suicide notes and put them out on my night table. I laid down in my bed in complete peace, knowing that I would fall asleep and not wake up. My eyes closed and I fell into a deep sleep.
I woke up the next morning.
Yes, I did wake up and was shocked. I felt sick — in more ways than one. I told my mom I was nauseous so I didn’t have to go to school. When my friends saw I wasn’t at school they began to worry. After all, I had told them how depressed I was the night before and that I wanted to end my life. They called my mom.
Needless to say, my ‘suicide’ didn’t turn out the way I hoped it would. I was rushed to the hospital that morning and went through a detox program. I was in the hospital for 3 days before they felt I was ready to go home. I had people visit and love on me and even then, I didn’t believe I was truly loved or worthy. I still wanted to die.
Overcoming the Darkness
The hospital set me up with a Social Worker for ongoing counseling. I began seeing her the next week and she was amazing. She helped me understand that my death would’ve impacted so many people in a negative way. I began to see how much it would’ve hurt others if I was no longer here. This was a big shift in perspective for me.
She was the first person to tell me that the reason I had all these awful thoughts about myself in my head was because those were the words spoken over me so often. I began to understand that the reason I felt so worthless and wanted to die was because I had been told things about myself that simply weren’t true (but at the time I believed and internalized them).
In addition to those thoughts, I had treated other children so terribly and I learned that also came from things done to me in my past. I had attachment issues and those came from the abuse as well. This was so eye-opening for me. I had spent so many years thinking I was less than nothing and I found out that it was a belief system I had bought into through experiences in my past.
If I could believe those awful things about myself, maybe I could choose to believe something different. Maybe there was hope. So, I continued on.
I went to therapy — a lot. I read as many self-help books I could get my hands on. One I found especially helpful was “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy” by David D. Burns M.D. This book taught me how to replace negative thoughts I had repeated in my head for so long with positive ones. It took some time to work through all my feelings and think of realistic alternatives, however this book helped me see that I had choice over my beliefs and that I could change my mind and change my life. It was a start.
I also learned how to feel better about myself by eating healthy and losing weight. When I was 16 I weighed nearly 200lbs and wore a size 16 dress. I did not feel good about myself, nor did I take care of myself, so I decided if I was going to live it was time for a change.
Along with eating well, I began taking medication for depression and anxiety. This helped to take the edge off my feelings and create more balance in my mind.
I continued to work on myself and dream of a future where I felt good about my life. I dreamed of a time where people would actually like and respect me, where I would look in the mirror and know my worth. It was a dream that I held out hope would one day become a reality. Needless to say, I was skeptical.
I had better days and worse days, all the while processing my feelings and working to have the life I dreamed of. I made a list of the things I imagined doing in my life by the time I was 30 — travel to England and Ireland, become an elementary school teacher, help kids who were struggling like I was, wake up in the morning and enjoy moments in the day. I thought about getting married, having a child and living in a home that I loved. I spent a lot of time dreaming and hoping — it was my way of getting through the pain.
One day it will be better, I thought. Death is so final and there’s no turning back. What if there is an amazing plan for my life and I get up to Heaven and see what could’ve been if I’d just stuck it out a little longer? Maybe the pain will end soon and I’ll be free to live the life I’ve always imagined could be possible.
Fast forward a few years later. After much therapy, various struggles and lots of opportunities to learn and grow, I began to see the light more and more. It wasn’t always easy. I traveled down many winding roads, however I am still here and today I can honestly say I love myself and see my true worth.
I traveled To Great Britain and Europe, visiting many places and enjoying every moment. I married a wonderful man and although our marriage isn’t perfect, he is perfect for me. I have a beautiful 2-year-old daughter who brightens my days, as well as gives me opportunities for growth and refinement ;). I became a teacher and currently teach students who are refugees, mostly from the Middle East. They have been through so much more than I could ever imagine. What a reality check and new perspective that gives me. There is so much evil going on in the world — much worse than I can create in my own head.
What I have realized over time is that hope is the answer. Hope gives us wings when we don’t think we could ever fly. It helps us see possibility when we think that being happy isn’t possible. It opens a door for dreams to form and when we visualize with that kind of focus and drive, we often end up getting exactly what we imagine.
I have my good days and bad days. Some mornings I wake up and want to stay in bed all day. Some days I am sad and withdrawn and the desire to escape pops up for a moment or two. I still struggle with negative thoughts at times. It’s a wild and crazy ride and I’m still here navigating the twists and turns.
Life is good
I choose to see it as good. I choose to put things in perspective and live out the beautiful life I am meant to live. The way I see it is if I haven’t been taken from this world yet, there’s still more for me to do here. Maybe somewhere in my struggle I can give others hope. Maybe you will read this and it will give you enough to go on to give it one more day, and one after that, and then one more.
Life is not an easy journey for many of us, however one thing I know with all my heart and mind is if we continue to hope there is always a way through. And when you get through you will be in a perfect place to help someone else. You wil also get the opportunity to see your life play out the way it’s meant to, instead of taking it into your own hands and choosing to die much too early.
Sometimes the pain can be so dark that it’s hard to see straight and I want you to know you’re not alone. The world needs you. I need you. I welcome you to reach out if you need to cry, vent or receive words of encouragement. I am here and I love you for exactly who you are at this very moment.
Don’t give up hope — there is a light at the end of the tunnel if you keep moving through. One step, then another. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Today I am so thankful that my life didn’t end that day, or any other day I wanted that finality.
I believe that one day you will see the beautiful life that comes from the ashes of your past.