I remember the first time I realized I had a problem. It was the first time I realized I wasn’t normal. It was the first time I thought about having a mental illness. I was not even 18, but I knew that something about me was not quite right. I didn’t feel things the way others did, everything seemed intensified. I was dramatic. I was depressed and suicidal. I was… different.
I pulled a knife from the kitchen silverware drawer and put it to my wrist. My mom and I were fighting. That was my first encounter with the police and it unfortunately wouldn’t be the last. I knew my mom just cared, but I didn’t see it like that at the time. I saw a psychiatrist late that night who ended up sending me home. I swore I would never do anything like that again and I was just upset. But that wasn’t the truth. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would attempt my life on three separate occasions over the course of a few years. Each time I would fail. Each time I was given another chance to live.
The first time I attempted to take my own life, I was prescribed Zoloft which had the adverse effect that it was supposed to. I was also misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Instead of helping me with my depression, I was sent spiraling downward to a deep, dark, pitch-black hole I had never visited before. I swallowed over 50 pills and laid down to die. I didn’t really think it through, I just did it. I didn’t want to live anymore. I almost succeeded. Almost.
I called the police myself when I awoke a few hours later. I didn’t feel right. I was moving really slowly. It was getting hard to breathe… harder to walk… harder to live. My organs were shutting down. I was dying. I was actually dying.
I don’t remember the paramedics arriving, but once I came back to consciousness they told me I had a seizure and my heart had stopped beating. They had brought me back to life. Just like I had taken all those pills without a second thought to end my life, these paramedics, that were complete strangers, had battled to save it. I am forever grateful for them. Without them, well I wouldn’t be here to tell my story. My son wouldn’t have a mother. My daughter would never have been born. I’d of never met my husband. I wouldn’t know all the things that life had to offer. My life would have been cut short because of me. I took the reigns of God and took a gamble by trying to end my own life. I really believe that God intervened that night and gave me another chance at life.
People have asked me what I experienced in the time my heart stopped beating. My answer to them is nothing. I didn’t experience any visions. I didn’t see Jesus. I didn’t see my life flash before my eyes. Just suddenly there was no more. And no more didn’t seem like a very accommodating place to be.
Unfortunately, until I would receive the proper diagnosis and correct dosages of medication, I would try to commit suicide two more times. Each time I learned something – it wasn’t my time to die.
You see I was lucky. Not everyone that attempts suicide lives, obviously. I was aiming to die. And for a while, not being able to take my own life sent me into a deeper depression. I couldn’t even kill myself. What kind of a person am I to fail at something that should seemingly be so easy? But it’s not. It’s not easy. Your consciousness kicks in before your heart stops thumping. Your mind goes to places it’s never been in your last breaths. You experience something that a human being isn’t supposed to experience.
I am a walking miracle. And I will forever credit that to God.
After I got my depression under control, I worked on my BPD diagnosis, and then last but not least – anxiety. It took over a decade for me to get to a place where I was more healthy than not. It took lots of therapy and support from people I was too stubborn to allow to help me when I needed it most. It took lots of patience and grace. It took almost everything I had, but so did the suicide attempts. Had I succeeded with those, it would have caused me to lose everything and then some.
Now, I’m now more aware of my moods. I have hope. I am educated with my disorders and things I can do to offset the symptoms. And being educated on your disorder(s) is seriously half the battle. It’s not an easy one and you’re not always moving forward, but so long as you are breathing, you are winning. I promise life is worth living. If you feel it’s not it’s just because you haven’t run across your reason of being yet. But I promise you that you will. If you can just hold on a little longer. If you can just try a little harder. If you can just stay alive a little longer, I promise you will find your purpose for living on this Earth. Don’t let anyone discourage you from living your life the way you want. Because honestly, there should be no other way you would want to live it.
I can feel happiness now. My world isn’t full of anger and hopelessness. I feel things other than misery and it is a superb feeling. Give yourself the chance to live a full life. As it’s been said, “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Don’t be a dead statistic. Be a living one.
Learn more about Courtney's story here: Mental Health & Killing the Stigma