They call it waking up alive – that moment you’re aware your suicide attempt was not fatal. If this has happened to you, then you know what I mean. You weren’t expecting to still be here, and now you actually have to put the pieces of your broken life back together.
I don’t know your story, but it has been 5-1/2 years since my suicide attempt, and I have some idea of what you might be going through. There is nothing like this website out there — I know, I’ve looked.
So little by little, I am creating WakingUpAlive.com to be a place created for suicide attempt survivors by suicide attempt survivors.
As I continue to collect stories from other people, I hope this website will be less about me, and more about us. Why? Because I remember how alone I felt in the months following my suicide attempt, and I wished I had something like this. Something that told me all the things I was thinking and feeling were normal. That I wasn’t the only one. That I could get through this.
As you can see, this website is far from finished, and much like my life, I keep giving it a significant makeover every 6 months, trying to get it just like I envisioned it in my head.
I know someday this website
will be a beautiful and intricate thing,
just like your life will be, one day.
If you have a story to share, please e-mail me. I know you might feel a little overwhelmed right now — but just by sharing, know that you can help someone else — no matter where you are in your recovery.
AFTER YOUR SUICIDE ATTEMPT:
DECIDING TO LIVE
By: Samantha Heames
If you are reading this, then you are probably in the same place that Samantha and I have been. My name is Sabrina, I am a former past Chair of the New Mexico Suicide Prevention Coalition (NMSPC), and I attempted suicide in March of 2005. I took what I hoped was a fatal overdose of pills and started slicing my wrists with a kitchen knife. Almost 20 hours later, despite my best intentions, I woke up.
If you have just woken up alive, I hope this information will let you know you are not alone. Your journey starts now; unfortauntely there is no road map for where you are going. Samantha’s story in some ways is very different than mine, but in some ways, it’s like she’s talking about me.
After my suicide attempt, I felt fragile. I got up, showered, brushed my teeth, ate my breakfast, and went to work; came home, put on pajamas, and the next day I did it all over again. There were entire weeks and months like that. Simple and fragile. My parents wathced me like a hawk. My friends? I only had one friend left by then – my life had been coming apart in leaps and bounds. I lied to everyone. I said I fell. It at least explained the bruises on my knees. I tried many times to get up off the floor that night, but I was too drugged, so instead I fell down on my knees, over and over. The cuts on my wrists? Those required strategically placed bracelets.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because if you are reading this booklet, there a few things you need to know. There are some incredible menal health professionalsout there. they know how to help you, and better yet, they can teach you how to help yourself. I personally credit that first appointment with a psychiatric nurse practitioner for changing the entire way I see the world.
The bruises will fade. Yoga classes have gradually healed the damage to my knees, and have taught me how to breathe and center myself. The bruises on the inside will go away too. Eventually, you will find out where all of your bodies are buried. You will vent your feelings and release your pain, until one day, just like in yoga class, you will realize you are much stronger than you ever gave yourself credit for.
One day, you will give your bracelets away, just like I did. One day you will realize that you don’t have to hide. Your attempt on your life is no longer your dirty secret, it is your truth. It really can free you, and through it you will find your purpose for living again.
My purpose is to help other people. Eventually, I made my way to the NMSPC. I started attending their meetings, and one day I found myself leading the organization. I don’t know why you’re still here, but I’m glad you are, and I promise you, some day, you will find your own “why.”
Sabrina, May 2009
-Living Again Since 2005-
So, you tried to kill yourself and you botched it.
Don’t despair; most of the people who have succeeded where you could not, tried at least once before they sealed the deal. In fact, it is extimated that for every person who completes the act, 8-25 more people make an attempt. At least 32,000 Americans die by suicide each year,[2 ] so that means that this year somewhere between 240,000 and 750,000 people will be in the same boat as you– statistically that is; where your head is, only you know. Whether it was a last minute outreach, and unplanned intervention, or simply gorss imcompetance, you are in a place that many before you have been, and many more will be: your own Purgatory on Earth. And you are in the psoition of being able to decide which direction you want to go.
Maybe you don’t want to read this right now. Maybe you don’t think it will help you. Maybe you don’r want to be helpd. I get that. But there ARE a couple of pros. For starters, readthing this might be an excuse to avoid a conversation you don’t want to have. Also, it’s short. You’ve got enough time for it.
After all, it’s not like you have anything planned today, right?
You weren’t supposed to be here.
As I begin this, it has been twenty-six days since I tried to take my life. Twenty-six days since I made the decision that it would happen on that exact Monday, after months of contemplation and planning. Twenty-six days since I carried out most of the plan, twenty-six days since I botched it. And twenty-five days of the look. You know the one I mean.
Almost foour weeks. In my head it is as if it just happened. I turn on the TV or my computer, stare at a book or sit in front of a window and I just zone out, sometimes for hours on end. I go almost nowhere. I crawl inside myself and pick at whatever is left of my psyche, trying to figure out where it all went wrong. I imagine that I am actually in a come in the hospital where I awoke in the harsh fluorescent glare of failure. I pretend that all the thoughts and feelings I have expereinced in these weeks are the result of my brain being in its own purgatory. I’m analyzing the options, and I can decide if I want to wake up or if I want to keep receding into my dream world until I’m so stuck there is no coming out.
Attempted suicide is not some white-light filled,
There aren’t event words to express the crush I felt when I realized I was alive. Sometimes I wake up and feel it again: Why am I still here?
I didn’t know what to do, so I trolled the Internet for suicide attempt survival stories and looked around for books abotu suicide. Some of them seemed directed at people who were thinkng about it. Most were for the families and friends of suicide victims. Almost all of them were just pages of numbers cleverly disguised as words.
What I wanted was something that told me what I was supposed to be feeling, as though it were a well-documented progressions with a simple cure. Take two capsules every six hours. If symptoms persist call a physician. Something like that.
I wanted to know what other people went through in the days and weeks after their attempts, but I didnt’ really want specifics of their situation. I wanted to know what came after waking up alive. I think this is that.
I am not a psychologist. I am not a doctor. I am not extremely spiritual. And there is not a simple cure in these pages.
However, there were things that I did in the weeks since the attempt that worked, others that didn’t, and I’ve learned a little along the way that I hope will guide you through the days until you decide to help yourself .
1. The most important thing I can tell you is to take your weeks one day at a time. If you have to break the hours into minutes, do it. I repeat it to myself throughout the day: One hour at a time, Sam.
We will all go through this in different ways, and the length of each journey will vary. Don’t put pressure on yourself to get to a certain place in a certain amount of time, and don’t let anybody else do it either.
2. Remember that everything you feel is right, and normal for you and your process. While there are things you might do that won’t help your situation, there is nothing you will feel that you should think is wrong. Be honest with yourself.
3. Your friends and family don’t know how to help you. They want to, but their primary goal is to make sure youare safe because they love you. They may have sought advice or read a book, but they, too are experiencing a lot of confusing feelings. they will never be able to anticipate everything you need or when you need it. I talked to some of my friends to figure out what they were going through during this time.
Download the PDF to read the entire document
Stories from Survivors
You are not the only one to tread these murky waters, no matter how lonely you may feel. You can read the stories of other survivors, or Contact Us to find out how you can share you story.
Books for Suicide Attempt Survivors
These are some books that you might find helpful. I get absolutely no kickbacks from Amazon.com, but their website provides some detailed information about these titles, as well as listings for used copies.
While Richard Heckler’s book is no longer in print, you can still find it on Amazon Marketplace and the like. The prices vary widely, which may be my fault. Since I tend to buy up the used copies, I occasionally buy so many that I temporarily drive up the price.
While sadly OASSIS doesn’t seem to be around, this is still a great book with a religious/spiritual theme.
The QPR Institute offers this book as a free download in English, Spanish, and French.