Since I Chose To Stay
It’s been about one year since I last attempted to commit suicide.
Sunday, September 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day.
I usually share my story and life with mental illness, but this year I want to tell you about the life I’ve lived since I last set down the knife and decided to stay.
Since I chose to stay, I moved 2,284 miles from Nacogdoches, TX and joined a unique community of people in Seattle, WA.
Serve Seattle was a place where I found more than some really awesome internships, I found a family. A family that was willing to be vulnerable but stand up in the face of injustice.
While I lived in Seattle, I continued on my medication for anxiety, depression, and PTSD. My mental illness didn’t go away despite how much I wanted it to. Honestly, there were days where I didn’t know if I was going to shower much less get out of bed. But then there was Jenna, Amy, Stella, Alyssa, Erika, Becca, Skyler, JB, Cody and the list goes on. These people showed me grace in my weakest moments and called out the best in me when I couldn’t see past anxiety.
I lived in a community that valued people as they were.
Since I chose to stay, I convinced my friend to hike on the side of the road for two miles in a downpour just to hike a small portion of Poo Poo Point in Issaquah, WA. I was able to hike in Mt. Rainier National Park, a place I’d been wanting to hike for years. I experienced a gnarly wipe out on ice when hiking in shorts in the snow. I hiked Rattlesnake Ridge and canoed with friends in Lake Washington. I heard the Lord tell me to drink from a waterfall to be refreshed, and even though I looked like a complete fool, I did. We built fires at Golden Gardens in Seattle and watched the sunset over the mountains. I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time, hiked through the Garden of the Gods in Colorado, and drove through the Redwoods in Northern California. I played in the snow for the first time in years and had a little too much fun.
I fought mental battles of feeling like my legs were giving out, but I pushed through them and kept hiking. That in itself is a success.
Since I chose to stay, I was able to raise $1,000 in one week for HeartSupport’s Warped Tour Campaign. I got to work the HeartSupport booth at two Warped Tour Dates and hear stories of others choosing to stay. I was able to go backstage to watch one of my favorite bands, Movements. I got to attend South By So What with my sister and cheer on a good friend, Clover The Girl. I got to be front row seeing Four Year Strong. I had the opportunity to see Mayday Parade play the same show I attended ten years ago. I was able to sing along with Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors in the front row with my friend Heather. I got to celebrate Jenna’s birthday by seeing Colony House in concert. I had the opportunity to play my first solo show when opening for my friends, Brothers and Brides. I got too excited when my all time favorite band, Paramore, released their new album, After Laughter.
I got to write new songs where I decided to be honest about my mental health. Now I get to record and release those songs in the future.
Since I chose to stay, I got to see three of my best friends get engaged. I got to attend two weddings, one where I fulfilled a life-long dream of being a DJ, the other where I was honored to sing a hymn in celebration with the bride and groom.
While my mind likes to tell me I’ll always be alone, I am at a place where I can celebrate my friends and know I will have my own relationship one day.
Since I chose to stay, I was able to take my first journey overseas to London and Ireland. I got to see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and other sights in London. I drank the best latte I’ve ever had at a coffee shop owned by New Zealanders. I got to experience Bangor, Northern Ireland, the place one of my best friends, Amy, grew up. I had a chippie, digestives, and a fry. I got to hike Giant’s Causeway and swim off the northern coast. I drank my first pint of Guinness and watched the sunset over the sea. I met Ellen, Sarah, and Paula, three of the coolest and most sincere people ever. I went to a club and came to the conclusion that a pub is more of my scene. I got a tattoo in Ireland to remind myself of that trip.
There were nights that my mind wanted to wander and flashbacks popped up, but after that trip, I realized how far I’ve come. I no longer need people all the time, I can calm myself before anxiety takes over.
Since I chose to stay, I enrolled in college again.
Since I chose to stay, I get to see my niece turn four.
Since I chose to stay, I saw my sister graduate college.
Since I chose to stay, I can see Paramore in concert on September 30.
Since I chose to stay, I get to try and get accepted in to Park Ranger Academy.
Since I chose to stay, I can watch movies and binge Parenthood with my mom.
Since I chose to stay, I take five pills a day and attend therapy.
Since I chose to stay, I ask questions and advocate for people who don’t want to stay.
Since I chose to stay, I can live.