World Suicide Prevention Day and Me
by Stephanie Schroeder
Standing on the precipice of tipping over a half-century of living, I joyfully look forward to my 51st birthday on September 10th, which also marks World Suicide Prevention Day.
It’s been nine solid years years since I stopped my repeated attempts to kill myself. I am happier now than ever. A young friend is here from Australia via Toronto to celebrate, and, with my girlfriend, prepare a birthday dinner for a fun, private evening.
But, I still can remember when I was in the slough of despond for so many long years. I remember how it was to feel helpless and in dangerous despair. I never want to go there again. The good news is I no longer find myself in the very dark spaces I once occupied. In fact, I feel very distanced from that person who was not-me for 42 years.
Now living happily, healthily, and according to my own needs and desires, I am no longer at the mercy of an unpredictable and invisible illness that tormented and controlled me. Rather, I control my illness.
It’s still very poignant to me, reflecting on my 51st year on earth that I have survived. And that my 37 year old, 39 year old, and 42 year old selves felt the need to stop my psychic pain by killing my person. But that was the Stephanie who was not-me.
Folks ask me if I regret those 42 years. I don’t, and won’t, live in regret, or lament what I did in the past. I live for the moment and take everything day by day, eagerly approaching life, and myself, creatively and with great care. Because I, like everyone, deserve it.
Here is some information about Bipolar Disorder and other mental illnesses. Please do yourself and/or someone you love a huge favor by reaching out and asking for – or offering – help. No one is alone… Even if you don’t have close friends, or a supportive family, a group of friendly coworkers, or a significant other, there are still people around who are available and interested in helping. Here are a few resources:
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: http://www.afsp.org
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: http://www.dbsalliance.org
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: http://www.nami.org