Last year, I took a leap of faith and a step out of my comfort zone. At the beginning of the year, I resolved to participate in the Out of the Darkness Overnight and raise over a thousand dollars for suicide prevention. It was something that had been on my heart for so long, but I had no idea how it would change my life.
As i started to prepare for the 18 mile journey, I began to be challenged. Not only by the physical activity…but I challenged my self to take a stand, be more vocal and REALLY be a part of this event. By taking that stand, I had to do something I had been afraid to do for some time. I had to confront my past and my present, and I had to be willing to talk about it.
My struggle with suicide and depression had been a source of shame in my life for quite some time. At 23 years of age, it was something that had plagued me for over a decade. I was ashamed that, 10 years later I was still struggling. I was ashamed that the scars on my arms were not a reminder of my past but an image of my present reality. I was ashamed that i still allowed situations to grip me and throw me into such a deep depression that suicide seemed like the only logical answer. I was ashamed that after all this time, my family still didn’t not know about my struggle or attempt to try to understand it.
The home and culture I grew up in made me feel like a failure for being who I was. They made me feel weak and made me believe there must be something defective about me. I was made to believe that my struggle was shameful and I should hide it from the outside world at all costs. And for a long time I believed that… Until last year.
My struggles with self injury, depression, eating disorders, self esteem issues, alcohol abuse and thoughts of suicide had been fought silently for many years…and frankly…it hadn’t done much good.
Last year, I let down my guard and reached out for help, and I let someone else carry the burden of my pain with me. Within a few months my life had changed dramatically. By spring of 2011, I had begun sharing my story publically and it played a big role in my healing process.
In May 2011 I shared my story in the New York Daily News. I was excited for the oppourtunity, but i was also nervous about how it would be recieved especially by my family. I learned that not everyone would support my decision to be so vocal about my struggles. But i also found support in the ones who understood how important breaking the silence and stigma of mental illness and suicide is.
That support, my faith in God, and the belief that everything happens for a reason is why I am still standing.
It hasn’t been easy, this past year has been filled with many triumphs, but many defeats and earth shattering realities. But I am still here, and still fighting and still going strong. Next month I will celebrate a milestone birthday….but I also rejoice in another milestone. One FULL year free from self injury, and suicide attempts. I lay my life my story and my trust in God and He has not let me go.
It all began by taking one step out of my comfort zone. Now I won’t let ANYTHING hold me back from shining a light into the darkness. Wherever this journey leads me I will go, whoever I encounter along the way I will embrace, and I will continue to share my story because I believe if it can bring hope and help to just one person it was all worth it.
I am breaking the silence, tearing down the walls of stigma, and bringing my story out of the darkness.