“You’re Awake.”

The first things I remember were the restraints. I couldn’t move my right arm and leg. I was in such a fog that, at first, I thought it was my own inability to coordinate my body, but I soon realized I was strapped to the bed.

Then a voice from across the room said, “You’re awake.”

I couldn’t speak. I just reached across my body and started pulling at the restraints. It was then that the bed and room started to become clear in my head. A hospital. I was tied to a bed in a hospital.

“He’s awake,” the voice from across the room said loudly.

I looked in the direction of this voice and noticed another bed about 6 feet away with an elderly man sitting up in it. He stared blankly at me.

“Someone will be in soon. Probably. ”

My mind was so thick and it felt as if every movement was happening in mud. I was thirsty and with this thought I noticed a water bottle on the tray next to my bed. I was able to reach it and drink. With each sip I started to realize where I was. And why.

I had tried to kill myself. Pills. A note. Relief. Then fear. Then nothing. Void of memory until now. I was soon to discover that it happened three days prior and I was slowly coming off the pills that had entered my system before my stomach was pumped and the charcoal was given.

I wasn’t dead. I had failed. I felt like a trapped animal. Defeated and filled with shame.

That was over thirty years ago.

So why am I sharing it now? I’m not 100% sure of all the reasons. It somehow feels like the right thing to do. I no longer feel the shame surrounding my suicide attempt. I haven’t for years. I believe by putting it out there I can, perhaps, remove some of the stigma attached to such an act.

Most of the people I know may very well be surprised or shocked by this revelation. Some may be angered or disappointed. Others may have a difficult time understanding.

And there will be some that have gone through it.

This is for the ones who have tried and lived. For those who suffer the pain of living with depression and mental illness. For those who still contemplate doing it. You are not alone.

The path out of darkness is different for everyone. My way out may not work for someone else. It has taken years. It has sometimes come at a cost. The darkness still visits me from time to time. There’s a part of me that wants to embrace it like an old friend. I have a hard time seeing the selfishness in suicide. I’m not advocating for it, just recognizing that mental illness can be terminal like any physical disease.

I have lived more of my life walking away from that moment than walking towards it. I have been fortunate and am filled with gratitude for all that has been good in my life. For all the love I have received and have given. I was blessed with a second chance.

A long time ago I failed in my attempt to end my own life, but now, I like to think that I have succeeded in my attempt to live life.

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