A grateful letter from a struggler to her allies

 

“No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue.” –Hannah Baker, Thirteen Reasons Why

And the world would miss out if we weren’t here. Even with the bad stuff.

Reason One: You.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of those reasons why I’m still breathing. When I tell you I want to die, you hear that I don’t love you. You often hear manipulation for attention, and if I’m honest, some days that’s true. But the truth is each person’s life impacts another. I am still alive because of you.

Reason Two: Eyes.

People die because of what others do to them. But we also live because of what they do. I am still alive because of my loved ones. Because of the despair I knew would come into Sarah’s eyes. Because of the compassion that came into Lauren’s eyes when my body went into crisis. Because Allie didn’t let me go till her eyes sparked with anger.

Reason Three: The in-between.

The hardest part for me comes when I can’t talk to those I love. After six years, and even on the first day when I said, “I don’t want to be alive,” you heard me say, “I don’t want to be with you.” And it’s sometimes true. Some days I do want relief more than I care about you. That’s why I reach out. Not because I’m trying to say I don’t love you, but I’m trying to say I need help. I do need attention: crisis attention, and plain good positive attention. Some days I have to remember that life is good by myself, and some days I simply can’t. But the third reason I’m still alive is the in-between times. When you tried to reach out and said the wrong things. Because of all the texts that came through—all the times you couldn’t answer with a hug, or your presence, but you were still there. You texted back, sometimes with imperfect words, sometimes with prayers, and said, “Life is more.” And while I couldn’t process all the words, I did hear, “I am here.”

Reason Four: Your fear.

I know that feeling unsure of my safety is unpleasant. I hate it. You don’t always trust I’ll make the right decisions. But I’m alive because I know that you are afraid. Because the love that casts out all fear comes with fear too. You love me enough to be afraid of losing me. And the fear is draining and tiring. But the very fear that pushes you away from me sometimes and drives you to be with me, is a part of why I’m still breathing. Because that fear is real, and hard, and I don’t want to leave you in it.

Reason Five: Your Requests.

Loving people who experience life in the dark is exhausting. Whatever crisis or trauma that drove us to fall apart doesn’t take only from ourselves. But you refused to leave me there. You said you were tired of pain and asked me to have fun. I couldn’t always taste it for the richness that you experienced, but slowly you taught me to see the stars in the night sky, and then the midnight moon. And while you grew tired of facing my darkness and I gritted my teeth through celebrations, life slipped back into me.

Reason Six: You said no.

Sometimes you couldn’t come to my crisis. Sometimes you didn’t have it in you to be present, or you had your own life to attend. You built boundaries to protect our friendship. And that space brought me life. It killed you sometimes, saying no. It feels like there is no choice to draw back and live your own life while another is in crisis. Or maybe it just gets tiring having someone constantly ask you for help. But in the aloneness I faced a reality: I am alone in this pain. The thing that everyone tells us is a lie is also the truth. It forced me to ask the question: what is worth more than this moment? It gave me space to respond to my body’s needs besides physical touch. To create. To run. To stop and sleep. When you said no, I learned you were you, and I am me. And I matter too.

Reason Seven: The intimate moments.

Those idealistic moments emotions run high and sear themselves to our memory. When Katie held me the first time I knocked on her door in tears. When you stayed up till one in the morning, just sitting with me and then we slept all night in the dorm lounge. Sometimes your words did stay and not slip through the other ear. The box to hold my writing. The bracelet to remind me of God’s love. Flipping my wrist up and cleaning off ink-written lies. They formed me. They formed us and our friendships—for better or worse.

Reason Eight: Pills.

I hate pills. You know how much I hate taking pills. But when you gave me melatonin to take at night, my racing nervous system calmed down enough to let me sleep. Soft supplements did make my mind clear. Fish oil makes a real difference. So do some anti-depressants. But some pills I would carefully avoid. Do your research, but pills are a (stupid) resource that keep me alive. You are making sure I take them. And that helps.

Reason Nine: Counselors.

The friends who sent me to a counselor were right, I needed professional help. People who are trained in mental health helped me stay alive, to calm my nervous system down, to become a better person than I was before. And Scott and Bethany, you have given me so much, worked my heart through so many broken moments. I am so thankful for the moments they held my heart and the times they challenged my thoughts.

Reason Ten: Music, poetry, and art.

I imagine you got tired of reading the same words written over and over. I am not the type to hide my work. But the moments I put words on paper, the times I sat with you and spilled words into music, I experienced life tingling through my body and soul. The time that I read that poem for the thousandth time, played music unendingly, it went in and started to become a part of me. When you find me obsessing, sometimes I’m grasping hard for resources in the storm.

Reason Eleven: Growth.

Growth changes a person. And it changes relationships too. And the growth between us saved our friendships. Or I wouldn’t still be here. Because the truth is we humans need each other. God made both Adam and Eve. And we are all trying and failing, but we are trying to live togetherness. And our growth inspires the hope that keeps trying to push away.

Reason Twelve: Curse words.

Language is a powerful thing—and you who don’t use “language,” and you who sometimes do, broke out and cursed at the idea of my suicide. That spoke to me. You had known me less than a year but were not afraid to make it clear that my death was not acceptable. Devastating. And the strength of language and emotion bled through the numbness, and I heard you.

Reason Thirteen: Prayer.

Some days I hate to admit it, but when people are praying—actively praying—I can hear the difference. There is sometimes a change in the way my body processes energy, the speed of my thinking naturally either calms or wakes up and God speaks to me. Physically, emotionally, and relationally through Him, or the church, He speaks. Prayer does work. It just seems invisible sometimes. My requests for prayer were sometimes a seeking of attention. But I do need attention; I need both yours and God’s and sometimes prayer is the best way to give me both.

With love and thanks,

Jennifer

 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

 

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