That’s it. I am putting my foot down. This year I am fucking doing it once and for all. I signed up for the Out of the Darkness Walk. After watching the date pass by every June for the last five years, I finally made the commitment.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Out of the Darkness Walk, it is a sixteen-mile overnight walk. From dusk until dawn, individuals and teams walk to raise awareness for suicide prevention. I always wanted to participate in this walk. However, my health issues (fibromyalgia) prevented me from even thinking about it. My whole body would often be in pain for two weeks after simply cleaning my bathroom let alone a sixteen-mile walk. For the first time since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, for the first time, my symptoms feel manageable and under control. Therefore, as soon as I saw the annual advertisements for the walk, it felt right that this be my inaugural year of participation.
Suicide prevention has always been near and dear to my heart. I struggled with suicidal ideation as a teenager and young adult.
When I was seventeen years old, my family structure disintegrated in front of my eyes. My parents constantly fought. My mom left the house for days at a time without any contact. We were on the verge of losing our home. It was a shit show. That New Year’s Eve I stopped taking the antidepressant I was on without my parents knowing. That night I felt overcome with suicidal thoughts and the urge to follow through. The thoughts swirled in my mind for the several weeks, but now my body finally had the motivation and energy to do something about it. I remember staring at my ceiling for nearly three hours with a pocket knife in my hand. I laid there, contemplating the pros and cons of my existence. Thankfully, the rush settled, and I eventually rolled over and went to sleep.
That entire year and that particular incident catapulted me towards a career in the mental health field. I never wanted another individual to feel that way again or at least know that they had someone they could reach out if they felt that way.
About eight years later and five years ago, shit hit the fan once more. my codependent relationship of three years was in shambles, and I suspected my girlfriend of cheating on me. What was supposed to be a forty-hour job turned into closer to sixty hours a week. Mind you this job was my introduction to the mental health field as a counselor. It did not help that my parents each experienced health scares around this time as well.
The breaking point came on a Sunday night in November. Again, vague suicidal thoughts and feelings of hopelessness plagued my mind for the better part of a month. However, I had no plan or intent at the time. I was laying in bed, dreading my upcoming work week and scrolling through Instagram. I came across a picture of my girlfriend holding her ukulele (that I bought her) at our favorite date spot. I had not taken the picture. My best friend lived right near there, and they had been “training” for a 10k. Within seconds, I broke down into tears. Thoughts of taking my car on the road and crashing it or taking all of my pills ran rampant through my mind. With the last bit of rational judgment I had, I called the authorities to take me to a crisis screening center. I ended up doing a four-day stint on an inpatient unit.
I can honestly say that night was likely the last time I had suicidal thoughts since, and I am grateful that I never attempted or completed suicide. I want to share my story though because I want to show that no one is immune. Even as a mental health counselor, those thoughts and feelings almost ended my life. Depression, hopelessness, and suicide do not discriminate. In my thirty years on this earth, I have seen it affect all walks of life. Suicide has taken clients, friends, and family members for me. Each time it happens, it does not get easier.
That is one reason why I am a counselor. If I have any say in preventing suicide, I will damn well do what I can. That is why I am doing this walk even while suffering from fibromyalgia. The pain I might experience in my legs and back do not compare to the pain of losing a loved one to a completed suicide. I can deal with the pain for a week or two. The latter pain lasts a lifetime.
-The Caring Counselor
If you would like to donate or be a part of this cause, please feel free to visit https://www.theovernight.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=40774