I was twelve-years-old when I had my first thought about ending my life. I do not think that there was a specific event that triggered it. I think it was just an accumulation of many different events and circumstances that left me feeling helpless and completely out-of-tune to the world and my life. I did not have many close friends in school, and my family always seemed to jostle me back and forth with their demands and expectations. People saw me, but it did not feel like people took the moment to look back and actually acknowledge me and get to know me. As I fumbled through my adolescence, I seemed to happen upon a few saving graces and instances of happiness, but none of it ever seemed to completely enlighten my life and fill me with conviction to live without any doubts. The suicidal tendencies were always lurking. Always there. Always questioning.
When I reached the age of seventeen, I had reached the peak of my hope and patience – feeling that if there was any chance that I could have defeated my despair – I would have done it already. I was on the brink of becoming an adult, and I still very much possessed the same original emotional demons that haunted me in my younger years.
I almost went through with it. I had planned out how it would be done, and how my family and peers would react. I imagined that some people naturally would be saddened and shocked, but ultimately everyone would have moved on and their lives would have continued on as normal. It would have been a slight disturbance in the waters of the world, but it would not create a lasting rippling effect. Yet for a contributing reason that I cannot quite decipher, I did not end up finalizing the deed. I guess I just could not shake off the belief that there could still maybe be hope. Something good and uplifting in the future that could just maybe bring me more of a reason to live. I also admit that the concept of death and no longer living was an idea that frightened me immensely even in the brinks of feeling hopeless and numb.
So I chose to live. And even though life did not improve substantially for me, I was able to experience many things I would not have experienced had I died. I graduated high school. I went to college. I made friends, even if they were few. I participated in a few social outings, even though they were infrequent and I never truly became popular. I committed to my academics even though I never excelled substantially nor made the dean’s list. I dated, but I never had a truly sweep-me-off-my-feet relationship experience that introduced me to love. I gave people the impression that I was a happy person, even though I still very much harbored a major component of former misery that haunted me before.
I have to admit, life post suicide-survival was not easy. I still struggled immensely in fitting in with other people my age, and my family still continued to demand a lot from me. There were moments were I was just able to push aside all of the pending woes and force myself to concentrate on other things that were better to my understanding and control. But sometimes, throughout all of the pushing, I began to worry about if I was just kidding myself – trying to pretend that there could be more to live for when really I was running on empty and there would never be anything there to fuel me back up.
Now, in a little more than a month, I turn 24. To many, this number may not seem to hold much weight or age. However, each year lived since my suicide survival has felt like a decade in itself. Each day was an open meadow of freedom and opportunity that otherwise would not have been there had I killed myself. My life may not have necessarily improved, but it has changed in a sweeping number of ways that still have managed to bring me enlightenment amid the pain.
One of the most important lessons I have learned is that it is not just all about me. Back when I struggled with my depression, I will admit that I fell into instances of selfishness – being consumed with my own immediate needs and thoughts. In my eyes, I was the saddest person on the earth – the only one with hidden despairs and fears lurking at every corner. The only one who knew what it was to suffer and feel pain with every step taken in life. My world greatly revolved around my condition and the harrowing feelings that accompanied my perception on everything around me.
But now, I realize that I am most certainly not the saddest person on earth. There are many others who are sad and still fighting to find the courage to fight on. With the knowledge and familiarity on what sadness feels like, both I and others like me can see these sadness presences in other people, and it is with this sight that we can hear and understand. We can hear the cries of those who are in despair, and know that staying to listen and answer them will benefit the world much more than we would in choosing to walk away.
With my experience, I know that I am a more compassionate human being with more connection to the world and other lives around me. I prioritize charity work and giving back as well as always being patient and empathetic towards all my friends, family, and peers. Even if opening up to others is a petrifying experience for me, I have increasingly become more adept at the experience and constantly work to add more voices to my perception of the world.
So am I completely cured from depression and suicidal tendencies? I wish I could give a flowery, uplifting response that suggests that I have reached a complete, cure-all and squeaky clean inspiration Epilogue to my life. But it unfortunately is not so. My chapters are still turning, with sputtered words and disjointed sentences. Yet they are still going. As frazzled as they may be, I still find joy in the fact that the words are still being woven. Even if they are far from perfect. Like this prose, they are mine and growing to share with the world.
I still feel alone a lot of the time and my 12-year-old self still very much lurks within my persona whenever I face-on the challenges that life throws me. I am still afraid and unsure, and I still feel completely out of place in comparison to many people around me – especially those that are my age. I still am sometimes consumed with fleeting thoughts on whether I should give up the fight and end my life – and I still cannot state with confidence that I will always be able to conquer these thoughts and turn them around to weave in strength, purpose, and perseverance.
I do not know what the outcome will be from this consistent struggle. But one thing I can try to find certainty in is the fact that I have faced the darkness for so long that I will hopefully be able to better understand and recognize the light when it comes. But for now, I can still keep trying to venture towards it. Stepping forward without a trail or a set destination.
And if I happen to come across someone else who is lost and fallen, I hope that I will be able to have enough of a vision to step before them, offer a hand, and say: “I see you. I hear you. I understand you, and I will do everything in my capability to help you.”