Suicide was never a thing. To this day, it’s not something mentioned in my household. At least not until I’m talking about the work we do here at IMAlive. My family says I save lives; I say that the work I do here saves myself. It’s not necessarily penance as much as it is giving back what I took away from myself.
A few years ago, I moved to a city on my own to pursue my career in baking and pastry arts. I thought I was solid and could hold my own. Not that I couldn’t but being naive didn’t help my case. Though I wanted to believe that I planted myself somewhere good so I could grow, it was the opposite. I wanted to thrive in what turned out to be a toxic work environment where I was verbally abused and scarred. Instead of trying to look at the outside picture and see what others were doing wrong, I looked at myself like if I can’t make this work, then I don’t work, so what’s the point?
The thing was I was never suicidal. It was never something I wanted. In elementary school, there was a classmate who came from an abusive home. She laughed at her life in school but she was truly in pain because it always came back to the same thing. She talked about putting a pillow over her face and holding it there until she couldn’t breathe anymore. What I got from it wasn’t death but relief, a way out. If this life wasn’t working for her, she had two different directions her life could go but instead she chose secret option number three. That’s what it became, a glass door she can break in case of emergencies.
One night around 4am (a few hours before I had to be at work), I got to that place and had a means in my hand to hurt myself. I didn’t get what I wanted out of it so I cleaned up and thought, “well I’m awake, let me go to work..” It wasn’t long before I was on the bus with an hour long commute ahead of me. Enough thoughts one after another when the red flag went up and I realized what I had gone through as I passed by the Capitol building with the sun rising behind it.
This wasn’t okay. I’m not okay. Harming myself and casually going to work on a Friday morning wasn’t okay. I called my sister and sent myself to the hospital. Everything unraveled after that but in the most wonderful and terrible ways. I ripped myself from the roots and got out and not by using secret option number three either.
The opportunity to become a volunteer came about a few months after I had already applied for a Random Acts application for the SPN Family Crisis Network. On a Sunday afternoon after work, I hit a biker who was crossing at a crosswalk of a rotunda that was located right off of a highway. You can imagine there was cursing, threats, and dirty looks all around. It sent me straight to a panic attack that I can still feel today. Magically, I got home and was lucky enough to have someone who called me and talk me through. I’m lucky to say that she’s still in my life and we’ve worked at IMAlive together for about a year now. I’m also lucky to say that remembering that I had someone who loved me to help me out of a crisis is one of the things that saved me. Knowing that I was in a crisis before and rose above it set me up to successfully get out of the current one.
Fast forward a few years and I’m at the healthiest mentally I’ve ever been. Not that I got from point A to B unscathed, but I gave myself time and allowed myself to just be. And I replanted myself somewhere familiar and unknown all at once and have bloomed wonderfully, proudly, and strongly. I was in the middle of healing before I knew I started. We do the work we do to help others but sometimes, there’s the reminder that what we do saves us a little bit too.