You don’t know me, so what I have to say might not be important to you right now. But if you will take just one moment and read my words, it could make a difference to you. Just give it a try.
Things won’t always be this bad. You won’t always feel this hopeless and desperate. Life won’t always be so cruel. You are not always going to be this sad.
You might feel like the only way out is to end it all, but there is hope. There is help out there, and there are people, like me, out in the world who care about you. We care about what happens to you.
When I was thirty years old, my father took his own life. Two weeks later, I miscarried my first baby. I lost hope. I lost myself. I started thinking that maybe, just maybe, my dad had made the right choice. Maybe there was just too much sadness in the world, too many people who didn’t care, not enough good.
As I sat on the couch in my living room days after the miscarriage, I made a choice. I was depressed; I knew that. I also knew that a decision would have to be made. Either I was going to end up like my dad, or I was going to go get some help.
I lifted myself from the couch. I took a shower. I made myself change from wearing pajamas all day long to wearing actual clothing. I forced myself to eat. I combed my hair. I grabbed my car keys and drove to a counseling center near my house. I entered the facility and explained to the receptionist that I needed to see someone, and I needed to see someone as soon as possible.
I didn’t realize it right then, but tears were streaming down my cheeks, as I was telling the woman, this stranger, what had happened in my life during the past few weeks. I told her I was just about at my limit, almost at the very end of the rope, so to speak. I asked for the soonest appointment available.
Little did I know, there was a therapist quietly eating her lunch in the small area behind where the receptionist sat. She heard everything I was saying- how I’d lost my dad, the guilt I’d been carrying around for weeks, how my husband couldn’t understand why I couldn’t smile, eat, or work, and how the little ray of hope and sunshine I’d been growing in my womb had died and now I had nothing. She heard all the things I said about how my heart was broken and how I didn’t think I’d ever be able to fix it- that there was absolutely nothing in this world, in this life, that would ever be able to repair all the damage that had been done. I was broken.
This woman, this person, this angel came to the window. She took my hand. She put down her sandwich, looked at the receptionist and said, “I’ll see her now.” She motioned to me to come back through the door.
I followed her to an office with a comfortable couch, colorful throw pillows, and several pieces of beautiful artwork all over the walls. I can say that’s what I see now- the colors, but on that day, everything looked gray.
I didn’t talk much during that first appointment. I think I was shocked that my new therapist threw away her lunch so that she could help me get through the day. But whatever I said, I will never forget, made her cry with me. It was then I knew that she cared. She wasn’t just there to work or get a paycheck or bill my insurance company. She was there because she wanted me to live. She wanted me to know that I wouldn’t always feel the way I did right then. She told me there was hope. She said I had a future. She promised me that I didn’t have to end things the way my father had.
I didn’t believe her on that day. In fact, it took me months to believe her. Now that I think about it, it took me years to truly believe her, and even longer to believe in myself.
We talked for an hour each week. I took medication. She made me say “Goodbye” to my dead baby. I thought she was nuts. She sat a little statue in a chair and she actually made me talk to it as if it were my precious little baby who was gone from the world way too soon. I rolled my eyes, but I did it. I let my baby go.
It was harder to let my dad go. I don’t know that I, to this day, fifteen years later, that I’ve truly let him go, if I’m being perfectly honest. Of course there are days that go by that I don’t think about him. But most days I do. Many days I think about what it would be like to have him here today.
Because, you see, today I am strong. Today, after years of therapy and months of depression and anti-anxiety medication, I am just about (not quite one-hundred percent), whole. My heart that was broken, is still bruised, but now it beats, and it’s filled with love.
The stress and pain of my father’s suicide coupled with the loss of that first baby broke up my marriage. We weren’t able to fix it together- we just grew apart. But we made the best two children I could ever have wished for.
I have two boys, ages fourteen and twelve. They are strong, smart, funny, happy, loving, and secure. My greatest blessing in life has been to be their mother. I take nothing for granted because I remember back to that very first day when I walked into that counseling center. Had I not insisted on getting help for myself, my boys might not have ever been born.
When my boys were still quite young, I met a new man who loved me and quickly grew to also love my boys. We’ve been married now for seven years, and he’s the best step-dad any kid could ever hope for.
My therapist was right. There was hope. I did have a future. I became a mom, the most important job I’ve ever had, and despite all the hurt, the broken heart, the loss of a marriage, the loss of a baby, I was able to be a really good mom.
I took my pain and my grief and started a chapter of a non-profit organization that works to prevent suicide. I worked for that non-profit for nearly nine years. When I left, I was confident I’d helped hundreds of people cope with their own mental illnesses, as well as helped those who were like me- those who’d lost a loved one to suicide.
People would tell me how unselfish I was to have started the organization and tried to help so many people, but really, it was one of the most selfish things I’ve ever done. Starting that chapter and meeting other people like me, people who’d lost a loved one to suicide, helped mend my broken heart, gave me hope for the future, and made me feel like I’d finally accomplished something since my father had died. If I did help people, it certainly wasn’t as much as all of them helped me.
I know you feel sad. You have tried so hard, I’m sure. I understand why you might think there’s no hope, but I promise you, there is. Something good is out there waiting for you to find it. I know you can do it, because I did it. And if I could do it, so can you.
Take it one day at a time, one hour, one minute at a time, if you have to. There are people out there, like the therapist who cared enough about me to throw out her lunch, take my hand, and guide me into her office, who will help you.
I wish you nothing but the best, and I believe in my heart that you can have a happy, and healthy life full of love. Give it a try. I know you can do it.