It’s the fall in Florida.
The humidity of the summer is still well upon us, school is back in session, and I am still here.
Yes, still here.
That doesn't seem like a detail most people would feel the need to make prominent when penning an article, but to me, it does. As for this time last year, I didn't think I would be entering my senior year of high school, preparing my college application letters, driving a car, or even breathing.
Because last year at this time, I wanted to be dead. I can admit that now, as for a long time, I really couldn't. Who wants to vocalize their once prominent desire to go against human nature and destroy themselves? What healthy individual finds comfort in the thought of oblivion, or an ending?
Mental Illness, no matter the form, is an uncomfortable subject that often leads to sickly silences.
Physical illness is something we can see, vocalize.
“My throat hurts.”
“My nose is stuffy.”
“I have a stomach ache.”
All of these things flow off the tongue when we feel unwell. It’s instinctual. When we are sick in the body, expressing this notion through sharing of our symptoms nearly always leads to the retrieval of help from others, getting medication or rest, and feeling better.
Acknowledging ailments in the body is so much easier than attributing ailments to the mind. It seems we will forever rather admit our migraine then our crippling anxiety.
It is the illness without actively visible symptoms that puts us in the position to fear allowing others to glimpse at us, or offer help. We conceal ourselves not in blankets, but in shells of “I’m fine” or “I fell” or “I ate” or “Yes… I am happy.”
In all of this, the lacking of recognition for an illness that feigns not on the nutrients of your body, but the insecurity of your inside, the concealing of a secret fight, and the absence of outreach, we become ghosts of the people we once were.
To me, that is what suicide is. When you've lost yourself so severely, when every fiber of your being is plagued by someone you no longer know, and as you stop and stare at yourself, you lose your reflection… That is why the promise of a way out, a salvation from the slavery to your own sadness, becomes less of a nightmare then your waking hours are.
This is where I stood. This is who I had become. I was resting near a fork in the road, on the cusp of a change, and as I stepped that fateful foot forward to the road with an unlit path I could see the ending to, everything just stopped.
I just stopped.
There is an old wives’ tale about coming to an epiphany. It is a common theme in the trials of the journey of a hero; in the moment where a wrong choice could be made, they are stopped by something, anything, that gets them to cease.
In that moment, I didn't know what it was, but it was as if some invisible force was giving me the chance to try again, to start over.
There is freedom in choice, but there is also room for failure in choice. Nobody is ever going to make 100% of the right ones, but taking your own life-- suicide-- is a permanent choice. Something that is solidified by the ceasing of breath and the stopping of a heart that will destroy not only you, but the people that you love.
I have never been more ashamed of myself then in the moments I have watched loved ones cry for me in fear.
“I didn't know.”
“You never told us.”
There is nothing in sadness more paralyzing than knowing that your walk down a road with a single destination could make so many terrible aspects come to light for so many others.
It is never that your loved ones do not care. It is more often our own blindness and fear that keeps us from reaching out.
So in all of this, in this continued journey of turning another page, and realizing that our choices only cease when we stop making them, I've come out with one thing that I want to be the takeaway.
I am still here.
And if you're reading this-
You are too.
That heart that is beating in your chest and the blood that is pumping in your veins and the air that forms the rising and falling of your chest means something.
Do not forget that.
Here we are. A year later. A year past trials and tribulations and more than one moment where I wished I could've gone back and made a different decision that fateful September afternoon.
Life and recovery will never be perfect. Your mind and you are an ever-changing landscape, and to keep up with the mindset of being okay with not knowing exactly where you're going is not an easy feat.
You have to be brave.
You have to brace yourself for what is coming, what may come, and what will not.
But most importantly-
You have to be here.
For it’s something we just can't continue to overlook.
Poulson is an editor for The Millennial Times. She has recently published her own book, Laundry, now available on Amazon.