Instead of offering a plethora of critical thoughts on 13 Reasons Why, I want to share with you the 13 reasons why I refuse to give up.
If I had seen this Netflix series ten years ago, I would have thought of Hannah Baker as a selfish and overly-dramatic teenager. Ten years ago, I didn’t really understand suicide and I found myself very angry at my friends who had gone through with it. Today, I take a deep breath and ask forgiveness, that I was ever angry with those friends for the choice that they made. I get it now. I have been to that dark place.
However, suicide is just not going to happen for me.
I was taught at a young age to make decisions regarding my beliefs and my future. The sooner I made up my mind, the better; the benefit being that when I might be faced with trials or heavy decisions, I would already have made up my mind regarding most things. For example, I decided one day that I would never smoke cigarettes, because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to put them down. So, I never picked one up. I have never lit one. In fourth grade, the brother of a friend of mine hung himself. As I watched my friend fall apart at such a young age, I told myself that I would never do that to my family. I would never do that to the people I love. No matter how strong the temptation, I wouldn’t do it.
Suicide is not an option for me. Part of me needs to see these words on my screen so that I can remind myself. You see, on my good days, it’s easy to say that suicide is not an option. But last week, my brain wouldn’t shut up about it. My brain was absolutely convinced that the only way to relieve the pain and depression and anxiety that I feel is to just shut it all down. Forever. But I have made the commitment not to give up. So I won’t.
My heart has been softened toward those who have committed suicide. I used to be angry with those people in my life who left without warning. I felt that way because I didn’t understand how someone could truly be in that much pain or dysfunction that suicide was the seemingly best answer in their minds. Then, one day, I understood.
I remember sitting in a bathroom stall in my high school and thinking, “This is it. This is what it feels like.” Every inch of my body and heart and soul ached. I mostly ached because of decisions that I had made. I thought, “I want it all to be over. I don’t want to die… I just want to lose myself. My consciousness. That voice in my head.” Eventually, I was able to pass through that grief. And after ten years, I am happy to say that I have forgiven myself for those choices that I made which caused myself such pain. I was tempted, but I didn’t give in.
After about six years of living with that past grief, my first marriage fell apart. That was a whole different breed of animal. For the first time in my life, I truly wanted to escape the pain. Even if that meant dying. I wanted to end the pain. It was out of my control. My ex-husband made a choice which impacted me immensely, as you can imagine. It was so much pain- pain that I would never be prepared to anticipate or feel or understand. It wasn’t fair. I had no control over it this time. It wasn’t my mistake. But it crushed my soul and crumbled my sanity the very same. For the first time in my life, I understood a tiny bit of what it must feel like for those who cannot escape the pain in their lives which other people have caused for them. I was tempted, but I didn’t give in.
This year, I have experienced suicidal ideation in a whole new way. Get this: There is nothing in my life for me to really complain about. Nobody is causing me pain. But, my brain still tells me to end it all sometimes. There is no uncontrollable source pain in my life.. and part of me still begs me to give up. Through my challenges, I have let go of my anger toward those who give up. Instead, I have developed compassion, empathy, and love for those who give in to suicide or addictions.
So here are my thirteen reasons why I will not give up. In no particular order.
1. My Beliefs
I believe that life is a gift. I believe that my life has a purpose. I believe that if I do choose to end my own life, it will not end my conscious existence. I will simply be on the other side, stuck with the same voices in my head, unable to progress. To me, that would be complete hell.
2. My husband
My sweet husband is the only grounding force in my life. Without him, I would have no reason not to waste away my life with mind-numbing chemicals. He holds the fort down when my illness is raging and he is right there waiting for me when there is a break in the clouds and on my sunny days. I could not bear any part of existence knowing that I left him alone.
3. My parents
My parents have shown me the meaning of unconditional love. Although nobody can offer this quite as perfectly as our Savior, my parents are definitely in second place. They have pushed through this life with me and they have been there for me every step of the way. They offer me motivation to keep going.
4. My brothers
My brothers are just incredible. They crashed my party, which is life, and I wouldn’t give them up for anything. Brother number one has been around the block a few times and has come back from some very tough places. He is absolutely hilarious and incredibly fearless. I have always admired him for that. Brother number two is truly the brightest kid that I know. He loves quietly, but oh so fiercely. He could truly be whatever he wants to be in this life. Brother number three unfortunately understands most of what I blog about. He is stronger than I ever was at his age and he is wiser than he realizes. He has an old soul. I could not leave them.
5. My sisters
My first sister lives her life to a different beat. She speaks a different language. I don’t think she knows this, but she has taught me to love, to forgive, to not be afraid of who I am, and that no matter how far away you think you are, there are always people right there waiting for you. The past ten years of my life have brought me pain and with that pain, understanding, which eased my anger toward our differences. She has taught me to love what I have and not try to change everything, which has been vital to my sanity as of late. Plus, she brought my nephew into this world. I could not leave her.
My second sister also speaks a different language, but we like to call it “Spanish.” She is stronger than I could ever be. She has dealt with trials that I can only imagine and only see on the news. She has always been there for me, through the toughest year of my life until today- even thousands of miles apart. I just could not stand to break her beautiful heart.
6. My nephew
My sweetest nephew turned my world upside down. He has the most precious spirit. The love I have for him has pushed me and stretched me in ways I never thought possible. I cannot imagine my life without all of my aunties, so I am going to be the best auntie that I can be.
7. My purpose
I really, truly believe that we all have a purpose in this world. It won’t always be a world-changing purpose, but who can say how far our actions may extend? I’m not really sure what my purpose is yet, but I believe I am getting there. Just the thought of being able to help someone in need, pushes me through one more day.
8. My friends
I cannot remember the last time I had a best friend. I have prayed for years and years for some good friends to come into my life and now I have finally found myself in a place where I can make that happen. Each of my friends offers something special to me, whether it be an opportunity to be there for them and love them or they are actually there for me. It’s really difficult sometimes to develop and maintain a friendship with someone who struggles with mental illness, so for those who I call my friends, THANK YOU. My friends are truly beautiful, brilliant, and stronger than I could ever be.
This earth is such an incredible gift to us. There is so much beauty and mystery and I want to see it all. When I am outside, I am more grounded. I remember that it’s okay to just breathe. It’s okay to just be. I especially love a recent lesson I received from the plants: we, just like plants, have a unique build and purpose. Not every flower has the same amount of petals. Not every tree is symmetrical and they are still beautiful and mighty. Most days I threaten to leave civilization and go live out in a forest or desert somewhere and still may do it!
10. My extended family
I have been very blessed to have grown up with family being a priority in my life. I have the best grandparents, too many cousins to count, and have 9 pairs of aunts and uncles who have always been here for me and have been brilliant examples to me. I am so thankful for my family and I hope I can be half as cool as they are someday.
Earlier, I mentioned that I don’t know my whole purpose in this life, but I know that I was born to be an advocate. If I can somehow prevent just one person from making the same mistakes that I have made or maybe shine a tiny bit of hope or light in one life, then this pain is worth enduring and the battle is worth fighting.
12. My dog
This will only make sense to dog lovers. I am not even a dog lover.. but I sure do love my little dog. He is the most precious and sassy little Yorkie ever born. He snuggles me when I have to take naps during the day because I am too tired to make it through the day. He sleeps on my back at night when I just can’t stay up as late as my hubby. He gets me out of the house and on top of the yard work. He wakes up every morning and pets my face until I take him potty. If I didn’t have that precious soul to take care of, I would certainly be in a darker place today.
This last reason why is because I do not want to be a statistic. I do not want to contribute to the ever-growing numbers which places Idaho at number two in the country for youth suicide. I want to stay alive so that I can help change those numbers, one person at a time.
Yes, the world is scary. Painful. Exhausting. But it can also be beautiful and I want others to experience that.
With all of that being said, I want to clarify that these are my own reasons why I try my damnedest not to kill myself. Not because I am strong. Not because I don’t think about suicide daily, sometimes. But because I made the choice not to do it and my support system knows that. I ask for help before I wander too far into the dark. But I had to learn to do these things and some people are never taught how.
I don’t think suicide is damning. I don’t think suicide is glamorous. I don’t think that suicide is taking the easy way out. I don’t think any less of people who have attempted, completed, or thought about suicide. I don’t think that mental illness is something to be ashamed of. I think the more we talk about it, the better chance we have of saving the individuals who want to be saved.
Please feel free to share your reasons with me and other readers.