The first time I tried to kill myself, I basically went on a hunger strike. I woke up one morning and couldn’t get out of bed. I simply decided I wasn’t ever going to get out of bed ever again. I was going to just wait there and die.
The next time I tried to kill myself, I tried to slit my wrists. I have read somewhere the best way to go about doing it. As I laid there bleeding, I wasn’t afraid. I remember feeling the deepest sense of relief of my life.
I had been diagnosed as manic depressive (bi-polar) in my teens. I had lived with it under various forms of treatment my whole life. A series of events had led me to the point where I felt defeated by mental illness. I was in so much pain and loss that I thought dying was the only way out.
Today, I’m OK. Many days, it’s a lot of work just to be OK. Recently, it’s taken even more work than normal. And, that’s OK. I’ve spent a long time learning how to do the work I need to keep me alive. I don’t mind doing it because I have a lot to live for. I’m a survivor.
I bet you’ve been there or know someone who has. Odds are you’ve been touched in some way, shape, or form by mental illness at some point in your life. If you have, and you’re still with the living, you too are a survivor.
This past weekend, at Camp CoCo, I told a room of about 100 smart people the story of my life with mental illness and my son’s long and much more difficult fight with it. I had an outpouring of compassion and folks looking for ways to help do more.
This has me inspired and committed to take it to the next level. For me, for my son, for the too many friends I have lost to this fucking thing. Today is World Mental Health Day and I refuse to let the next one pass without seeing this through.
I’m brainstorming creating a non-profit around this. I’m not sure what it will look like yet (and am very open to ideas) but, basically, just like the language, compassion, and understanding around Cancer has changed from something one suffers to something one bravely and boldly faces with courage and support — I want that for Mental Illness. I want those of us who live with it daily, directly and indirectly, to be able to tell our stories with pride. I want us to OWN IT!
I’m looking for any help, suggestions, ideas, etc. on turning this idea into a movement. E-mail me if you’d like to contribute in any way.
But, the first and easiest way you can help is to share your story. Tell the world you’re a Mental Health Survivor. When you see and hear the stories of others say, “Me too”. Let us know you’re OK.