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What Suicide Taught Me and How it Led Me to My Purpose

I was 14 when I first tried to take my life. I swiped a bottle of my mother’s pills and swallowed them whole with a chaser of whiskey. Within minutes of breathing my last breath, I was rushed to the hospital and my stomach was pumped.

My life changed that day. I was forced to stay overnight at the hospital with adolescents who were suffering like me. But it didn’t feel right. I felt like an outsider, peeking into a life I didn’t understand.  I didn’t think I belonged. I didn’t think the others were like me. They were sad; I was happy. They were withdrawn; I was friendly.

I didn’t feel depressed but I was. I had become an expert at hiding my feelings, so much so that I almost forgot what they were.

After just a few days, I was released from the hospital. I jumped right back into my normal routine of skipping school, kicking beer bottles out in the parking lot and rebelling against the unknown. I tried to fit in but I didn’t. I followed the crowd but the crowd didn’t feel right. I was different but ask me how and I’d never know. And that was the state of confusion that once again, brought me right back to the same place.

It had only been a few months. Not enough time to learn how to feel, or even work through the thoughts that had led me there, but just enough time where no one had expected I’d do it again. I picked up the same bottle and that same vial of pills, but this time I took double the dose. This time I was within seconds of breathing my last breath. This time I knew something was wrong. This time I was ready to change.

I was rushed back to the same hospital and I sat silent for days. My experience wasn’t one that I could define and without knowing it’s meaning I found it impossible to approach. I didn’t think I was the person I had become. I couldn’t understand it and if I was to talk about it that meant I had to breathe life into the experience and identify a meaning but to me, at that point, it felt meaningless. I felt meaningless.

And this is where it hit home, I had told myself, over and over again, that who I was and who I wanted to become was meaningless, but it wasn’t true. I had meaning. God damn it!  I was important but I was too young to fully understand how deep my meaning would become. I had allowed my lonely thoughts to become my reality but my thoughts weren’t real, regardless of how many times I had repeated them over to myself.

Back at the hospital I was forced into the same routine. They questioned me and prodded at me. Made me feel dirtier than I had ever felt. Not physically dirty, but emotionally, as all of my thoughts were dirty and wrong. This took weeks to wash off. Ironically that’s about as long as my stay was but those feelings didn’t stay as long as I imagined they would.

One day, I started to talk. It was slow and meaningless but eventually some of the words began to carry weight. After a few weeks, I found that I had no idea who I was and with that blatant insecurity that had formed inside of me, I had tried to be like everyone else. But I wasn’t them and I didn’t want to be them either. I wanted to be me… I just had no idea how.

And this is where I fear so many of us get lost.

Now I know, that not everyone has the same story BUT since I’ve owned mine I’ve realized that I have met many amazing men and women who share a similar one. And having met them, I can’t imagine my life, having not crossed paths with each and every one.

The person I am today is nothing like the person I was back then. I often share my story out loud and if someone who knows me hears it for the first time I often get “I would never have imagined that Melissa” or “Melissa. How?” I’m typically met with bewildered stares and confused faces and to that I always say, you never know what happens behind closed doors.

Melissa today

I’m one of the lucky ones. Gifted another opportunity to breathe life and take it all in.  And that’s what I did. Today, I work with women and teach them how to not only feel their feelings but also feel their days. How to overcome shame, uncover their worth and love the life they’re lucky to live, because I know how that precious that life really is.

Every forty seconds one person dies by suicide. Someone’s daughter, mother, brother or son takes their life and leaves behind unfathomable heartbreak: one that all of us can only hope to never feel. I think about the beautiful gifts they take with them that we’re never revealed. The truths they kept secret and the lies they told. And then I wonder how different their life would have been had they known that they were not alone.

I share my story in hopes that someone will hear my voice, that they to will know that they are not alone. Life never unfolds the way we imagine it will but when we take it slow, remain open and fervently speak our truth we come to find that life is not as lonely as our thoughts make it out to be.

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