This post is in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day. For more information, click here.
A couple weeks ago, I went home for my Grandparents’ birthday/anniversary celebration (I think they just lumped every holiday within 2 months into one big hullabaloo ;)).
Before I drove up to Northern California from LA, my Grandma gave me the itinerary:
“So you’ll go out with your Mom during the day, then your Aunt and Uncle will have dinner ready when you guys get here. Then we can fold cranes after dinner!”
Months ago, I off-handedly mentioned liking the idea of cranes for my wedding and ever since, my Grandmother has started folding away in preparation for me big day, aiming for 1,000 (good luck in Asian cultures).
When I went up North, I looked forward to nothing more than folding cranes with my Grandma. Having that time with her was my top priority. I couldn’t wait to be close to her again.
I was so touched by this expression of her depth of love for me, even after all I put her through.
I don’t talk about this topic a lot because it’s really close to home, but I’m hoping it will benefit some of you who are in the darkness right now…
My tough times were years-long, starting just as I came into my teen years.
I said and did some horrible things when I was at my lowest point. I lashed out at everyone I could so that they would feel just as horrible as I did all the time. I didn’t care how I affected anybody because I thought no one cared how much I was hurting.
The only sacred ground was with my Grandparents. I never ever, ever wanted to hurt my Grandmother.
Out of everyone in my family, she had always supported me with unconditional love. She never yelled. She never scolded. She always tried to quell my anger and sadness with warmth, letting me know that she was there for me, whatever I needed.
My Grandma was the only person I felt I could really open up to in my family at that time.
After that fateful night in 2005, when the culmination of all that pain seemed like it was just too much to handle anymore and I tried to end it, I remember dreading the inevitable call from my Grandmother.
Please, Mom, just don’t tell her, I begged silently, willing my mother to keep it to herself as I stood staring out the window, waiting for my Mom to come release me from the hospital. Maybe I should have asked her out loud, but the one call I had to her was so short. I was so desperate to just get out of that place that I forgot about asking her not to tell Grandma.
The day after I was released, my phone rang.
Grandma was sobbing.
“Amy, what did we do? What did we do?” she kept repeating through her tears.
I almost hung up on her because I couldn’t bare the amount of guilt I felt in that moment. I handed the phone to my mom, and lost it.
Tears sprung to my eyes as I realized: after years of hurting everyone around me but her, I had finally crossed the line. Here, in this moment, it was clear that she felt like she had failed me. I had deeply hurt the one person I had tried so hard to save from pain because I had taken the one action that would break her: taking myself away from her.
After that call, it finally became clear to me that my actions directly affected the people I love. It was never just about me. The guilt that came along with that realization still lives in me today.
Because of this guilt, even years into my recovery, I had a hard time opening up to those who love me because I don’t want them to worry. I don’t want to cause them anymore pain.
After so much growth and strengthening, I feel like a different person now. That anger is gone. That sadness and loneliness is nowhere to be seen.
Recently, I’ve started opening up more to them, just to test the water. Slowly, they’ve started to relax into the fact that I am ok now, and that my ups and downs are just normal ups and downs; they’re not a sign that I’m falling again.
I’m allowing myself to accept love because I realize now that I don’t have to do this by myself; I am not alone.
Now, when I am going through a tough time, I know that I get through it faster if I talk to someone about it. I reach out for help now when I need it, which keeps the emotions from festering and building.
Had I allowed myself to accept love back in my really hard times–rather than resisting it and keeping it all inside–I could have recovered much sooner, maybe even before I reached the point that I did that night.
I know that many people who feel lonely and hopeless go through these same feelings of guilt, and often times it keeps us from reaching out for help.
Today, I want to challenge you to reframe that guilt.
Instead of thinking how you may be letting people down or the burden you would place upon them by reaching out for help, try allowing yourself to revel in that love that they feel for you.
Allow yourself to bask in it. Eat it up.
Rather than thinking of your loved ones as judges, think of them as cheerleaders. They want desperately for you to come out of the darkness.
Struggling with depression, eating disorders self-injury or substance abuse (as many Strong Inside Out readers do) can feel extremely lonely. Sometimes we feel like there is no one out there who understands us.
But you are never alone. There are people who need you here. There is someone whom you may not have even met yet, who needs you in this world.
You are not alone.
If you’re hurting, reach out for help. Your cheerleaders are there for you. Don’t let the guilt keep you from seeking help.
Love is healing. Let them love you. They want to so badly.
If you still don’t feel comfortable talking to them, look at the extensive list of resources over at To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA). There are experienced professionals who know how to help you (and want to!) if you lack the support in your everyday life.
I’m so grateful to say that I am still close with my Grandmother, and that phone call is long in our past.
It’s actually said best by my own Grandmother in a recent email she sent me after seeing an interview I did about my story:
“The wonderful thing about the bad, is what you’ve become.”
Every day is a new chance to turn your life around, to become who you want to be, to allow yourself to be loved. One step in that direction is a step out of the darkness.
You can do this. You are stronger than you know.
Take their hand and let them help you out. No more guilt. Just love.
Let it heal you.
In honor of World Suicide Prevention day, let’s get the word out to people who need our support.
Here’s how you can help save a life right now:
Step 1: Share this post on Facebook or email it directly to someone you love.
Step 2: In the comments below, write a message to someone telling them why they are needed, loved or wanted.
What words of encouragement, love and hope could you give someone who’s in the darkness and needs help climbing their way out? This message could be to someone specific in your life or to someone you haven’t met yet. Please refrain from using names or specific relationship details.
Help me inspire hope across the world today. Your words could save a life!