The topic of suicide and mental health is very rarely discussed, and I think there needs to be a lot of light brought to the subject of depression and mental illness. The time has come to #endthestigma. It should not only be discussed in September (Suicide Prevention Month) but should be discussed all year long.
I, myself, have attempted suicide on 3 different occasions. By the Grace of G-d, I am still here and fighting and trying to help others. It is not an easy story to tell but one I think that needs to be shared.
My first suicide attempt was when I was 13 years old. I was in 8th grade. A little backstory…I attended a small Orthodox Jewish Elementary school in Northeastern Pennsylvania. To say small is an understatement. There were eight children in my graduating class. Because of how small my class was and how relatively small the Jewish community was, I was with the same people in school and during the summers at the Jewish Day Camp and never got a break from them. Because of this I was constantly bullied all year long and never got a break from these classmates. I would complain and cry to my mother that I did not want to go to school or camp. I would say that my stomach hurt or that I had a headache – anything so that she would keep me home from school. When I would go to the Principal, teachers or counselors and try to talk to them, I was told, “Ignore it and it will stop”, “you brought it on yourself”, and “you need counseling because it’s your fault you have no friends.” I would always ask myself, “How did I bring this on by being me?”
Towards the middle of my eighth-grade year, I had gotten very ill and had to have surgery. After surgery, I returned to school a few days later and was picked on for having to have surgery. Told by one classmate that I was lying about my surgery and told that they wished I had died in that surgery because I was nothing anyway and no one would care whether I lived or died. Well, that was it for me…I had had enough…I went home that night and swallowed all the pain killers I had. I cried, no I wept because there wasn’t enough to end my life. My parents took me to the hospital, but I was released and told to go see a psychiatrist. Soon after, I returned to school and finished out the year very unhappily.
My second attempt was mid-way through my freshman year of high school. This particular day was just a normal day, but I just could not stand living in the shadows of my sisters any longer…Even though there is quite an age difference between us, most of the teachers had taught them and I was always being compared to them and I knew that I could never live up to their reputations. I did everything in my power to not be like them. Skipped classes, didn’t turn assignments, got bells (detention) because of some other things I had done. I was just miserable. Again, I tried to end my life with meds and again failed. Again I was told, “see a psychiatrist.” Well, I did start seeing someone to talk through my issues and with a lot of academic help and a few good friends, I made it to graduation from high school with my parents and family looking on.
My last attempt was after I was married to my first husband and had just given birth to my youngest daughter. My ex-husband was abusive physically and emotionally, I had pushed my family away before that because of the bad decisions I was making so I had no one in my life to talk to, and with post-partum settling in I could not handle anything emotionally. All the physical fighting and emotional abuse took its toll on me. This time I had thought it through. I was going to “slash my wrists,” which is exactly what I did and have the scars to prove it. I was not going to live this life any longer. Well, apparently, G-d had another plan for me. I lived. But this time it was different. I was different. I was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder and I received the help that I so desperately needed and should have had long before this.
I still fight my demons every single day. But now I know I am NOT alone. I talk about my issues in hopes of helping others. I let others know that I am only a phone call, text, car ride away. I have the support I need, physically and emotionally, family (both blood and chosen) that I can count on for anything I may need.
Please, let’s talk about the subject of depression, suicide, abuse, both physical and emotion, to let others know that there are people out there to help and to listen.