Journey after suicide: Writing my own narrative.
Feeding the right wolf.
Every time I write about this experience I do feel the need to preface it with the following: I am sharing this to raise awareness of what many, like me, struggle with everyday and to help those who feel alone. This is not a cry for help (as some have suggested) just an honest transparency of experience.
A new beginning
Enter Stage Left.
Being so transparently open is an extremely new experience for me — not only am I being more open to those close to me, but I am being open with the world. In a way the world has become my accountability partner through this experience and in helping others know that they are not alone I am saving myself, everyday.
Its been little over three months since my suicide attempt — and a lot has happened, good and bad, and thats reality, and that is what I wish to share with you.
Depression: A Fight Club
Sometimes I feel like we’re in a Fight Club called Depression, and the first rule of depression is we do not talk about depression.
In an effort to be ‘okay’, I have been doing and trying many different things each day to center myself into a good enough space to function regularly.
There have been times during my openness of coming out as being manic depressive that I have regretted it — because, whether we like it or not or whether they intend to or not, you are going to be judged, be ready.
It is in the moments when this knowledge of this part of myself seems to hurt me, either in getting work, engaging with my community, or interviews that I have to continue to remind myself of something a great thinker, Horace Mann, once said:
“Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”
It is my hope that writing about my experiences will help someone else who feels totally isolated and alone like I have many times, and to bring light into their oft too dark world — that makes the prejudices worth it.
Feeding the right wolf
If we are to be completely honest, all our lives (when looked upon with realistic honesty) are hard. It is during the harder times that I (that we) have to remember the old Cherokee story of the two wolves.
The basic story goes that within all of us there are two wolves; one wolf of darkness and one wolf of light and they are always fighting. A young man asks the wise old man “Which wolf wins?”, to which the wise man replied, “The one you feed”.
Through these experiences I have learned that the key difference between despair and hope is the ability to tell a different story from the same set of facts.
I have also learned that most people are pushed into action out of inspiration or desperation.
A question I ask myself daily: If I am not feeling inspired to act, to get up, am I truly willing for it to turn into desperation before I do something? Because, whether I like it or not I am the influencer of my actions and I can choose when and what I do; and I can act as if already inspired, it will come.
Writing a kinder narrative
We all are daily writing the narrative of our lives, and we are often way too harsh on ourselves, we take our short-comings and seeming ‘failures’ too personally. We are not writing a kind narrative of ourselves; when its the most important thing we can do for ourselves.
No one, not even the greatest minds of the world, has gotten to success with just one attempt, every time. Even the best fall short, but they take the feedback, they learn, they adjust, they are kind to themselves and then they go back and try again — this time with greater maturity — until they succeed.
I have been trying to write kinder narratives for myself. I keep a journal in which I have been writing every night; or as often as I have something to say; and I have been actively seeking ways to tell my story, my narrative, with more compassion for myself.
Its not easy, but its worth it.
I have moved into a space of acceptance that live, as we all live it, with or without a mental health issue, is hard. There is no escaping this fact. All we can do is do our best to be kind. Be kind to ourselves; be kind to others — because in this battle we are all in it together.
I try to spend as much of my time in the present moment as possible; Mindfulness as its commonly known. A space in the present that I neither mourn the past nor worry about the future, but a space where I simply ‘be’.
Whilst still staying on the medication that I’ve been prescribed, over the last three months since my failed suicide, I have been working on other areas of myself to be a better, brighter, stronger versions of myself.
I am, however, a realist. It has not been easy, and there will be times in the future that is not going to be any easier, even with medication and even with all these techniques, there will be hard times. Just know that that too is ok. This I have to constantly remind myself as well.
Other things I have done that has been helping:
- Exercise: I have installed a pull-up bar above my room door and made a little rule to do a few whenever I pass it; this has given me a lot of exercise I might not have had otherwise. I do feel better for it.
- Stopped sugar: I have stopped adding sugar to everything that I eat or drink. This was hard at first and I do allow myself the odd cheat, but removing sugar has definitely been a major positive.
- Cold showers: I live in quite a hot country (South Africa) but it is winter for us now, I have found that starting my day with a cold shower gets me in a spirit of feeling like I can conquer my to-do list.
- Time with friends and family: Whether its digital due to distance or in person, spending more time with friends and family has been a major positive.
I share these from my own experience and if you have any that help you that are not on the list I would love to hear from you!
If this piece has in anyway helped you, please give it a heart to recommend it to others.
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