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Rose White

is a suicide attempt survivor.
this is her story

Rose White

is a suicide attempt survivor.

"I Survived a Suicide Attempt."

Rose White is an editor, tech geek, and yarn aficionado in San Francisco. Her suicide attempts were catalyzed by difficulty with an abusive relationship. I interviewed her on April 17, 2013. She was 41 when we spoke.

I attempted suicide in 2000, in the summer, in July, and then again at the end of August.

Rose White is a suicide attempt survivor.At the time, I wasn’t living here in San Francisco. I was living in the Boston area in a suburb, and Boston was not the problem. The problem was that I was in an abusive relationship and I had moved to Boston, or to Newton, to be with a guy who was older than I was. And there were some warning signs from the beginning that this was not gonna be a healthy relationship, but I hadn’t been in a super unhealthy relationship before and so I didn’t know the red flags of controllingness that got worse over the years.

I had had a little trouble with depression just as I was finishing up college in ’92, and it’s hard to even remember what 20 years ago was like in terms of how mental health is dealt with, and this was in the Deep South.

So, I told a doctor at my college infirmary that I was depressed and they were like, “Oh, you’re just stressed out ‘cause you’re about to graduate,” and, “You’ll be fine,” and, “Lay off sugar,” and, “Get some sleep,” and just really useless advice.

They asked me at the time, “Are you suicidal?”

I said no, ‘cause I wasn’t, and they said, “Oh. Well, we can get you an appointment in two months.”

I was gonna be in another state in two months so I was like, ‘okay, I guess I’ll suck it up.’

The next time that I kind of interacted with the mental health folks was in graduate school, which was at Yale in New Haven and, you know, I had never lived in the Northeast before. Winters suck. I wasn’t in an abusive relationship, but I was in a relationship that was a little rocky, and I was depressed. Happily, it wasn’t a suicidal depression but, you know, I felt kind of ungrounded and didn’t know what was going on, and so that was the first time that I had seen a therapist and started to get the hang of the whole talk therapy, started to read books about coping with one’s emotions and stuff like that.

And the experience was helpful in that it gave me better language to think about some things, but it didn’t really lay a good going forward foundation in terms of ‘these are problems you might have to deal with all your life.’ The model seemed to me to be more like, ‘oh, there’s an event or a period of time where you’re feeling down and we’ll get that going better and then you’ll be fine.’ That hasn’t been the case for me, and I haven’t really seen it be the case for other people that I’ve known, younger than me, older than me, peers. Mostly these things are, you know, the whole thing where your brain’s lying to you and you have to fight back against it. That gets better and worse but it sticks with you, is one thing I’ve found.

So, I feel like I was at a disadvantage going into the abusive relationship since there was already some self-esteem stuff and some tendency toward depressiveness. I think that people who tend to be emotionally abusive probably, whether they do it on purpose or not, seek that shit out.

So, the guy I got involved with, you know, it started out, he was controlling. Like, “I want you here at this time,” but not as abruptly as that and so it was sort of—it didn’t at first seem so obvious to me that, like, “You’re an asshole, and no, I don’t have to tell you exactly where I’m gonna be at all times,” and stuff. But as the years went on—so I started seeing him in ’94 I think, and then was with him through 2000. Things got worse and worse, and I know now that a lot of the behaviors that I was putting up with from him are really classic abuser things, like managing to get you sleep deprived and cutting you off from people who might give you a different interpretation of how your life’s going.

Those are structural things, but then there was also a lot of heavily critical

directed talk, so I heard that I was lazy and that I was fat and that nobody else would want me, that of course I was having trouble at work because I just wasn’t putting enough into it. Whatever. Any problem that I came up with in my life was clearly all my fault. Anything that was going on for him was also all my fault. I was kind of the kicking boy, so this is about me and not him, and so I’m not gonna drill down into the abuse except that, by that last year, things had gotten just incredibly crazy.

There was drama all the time, and I had gotten so accustomed to being in the middle of this kind of drama maelstrom that it was just what was going on. But in the spring of that year, he flipped out and got super jealous of a friendship that I had and trashed my room and read my email and off the deep end stuff, and I got really brave and said, “Okay, I’m leaving. This is bullshit. I’m not doing this.”

So he threatened to kill himself. He was never gonna try to kill himself. It was totally manipulative behavior that was of a piece with the manipulative behavior that he had been engaging in for years, but I didn’t know that at the time, and I was like, “Oh my god,” and I actually got terrible advice from friends. I tried to talk to some friends about it and they were like, “Well, you know, he’s really sorry about what he did,” and, “He sounds really fragile. He’s willing to go to therapy and so you should stick with it,” or, “You don’t want to just give up on a years long relationship.”

All of this is shitty, shitty advice that I would tell somebody to run in the other direction as fast as she possibly could if I had heard half of what I was trying to tell people was going on. But I had this advice from people I trusted and he was doing the whole 9 yards on like, “I’m really sorry and I’ll see a therapist with you and we’ll…this will get better.”

So we did start seeing a therapist and the therapist was super sharp. He was a really unusual guy. He had a medical degree, but he also had a Ph.D. and he had gone through psychoanalytic training, and with that combination of sort of, you know, intellectual powerhouse, he had decided to go into couples therapy, which is extra unusual. Usually people who do couples therapy are not necessarily even that highly trained. It turned out he was pretty good at calling my abusive partner on his shit which, unfortunately, made things worse at home, ‘cause this was—in retrospect, I think it was probably the first time he’d been being called on his shit by another man and he was grasping at straws.

So, he went away on a trip that summer for a few days, and while he was gone I had dinner with a friend who was a guy. I still remember having dinner with this friend. We talked about his relationship with his girlfriend the entire time and how much he loved her and he was gonna propose to her and they were gonna get a dog, and it was super sweet.

[My partner] got back from his trip and accused me of having fucked the guy, which wasn’t true. It was like…it was so not true that it was crazy, and I was like, “What? You’re nuts,” which egged him on. Some of this is still really clear in my head and some of it gets foggy because of how many hours this went on for. He was screaming and yelling at me and I ended up screaming and yelling at him back, and I was hearing that I was a lying slut and that I was obviously lying and I was such a bad actor, and it was horrible. This went on starting from when he got back, all through that night. I was so scared I couldn’t sleep. He kept me up way into the night and then he went to sleep and I couldn’t sleep.

The next day, I went to work and he kept calling me at work and saying aggressive stuff and, I guess just ‘cause of routine, I went home and engaged with him over it again. So then we’re into Day 2, and this went on all evening and into the night, and he goes to sleep again.

At this point, I haven’t really slept in two days and I couldn’t see any way out of it, and I’m so sad for that, like, past not being able to see that there were lots of ways out of it and they would all have been painful, but they wouldn’t have led to me dying.  So, but that… I couldn’t think straight. I really couldn’t think straight. I think that this is common in accounts of other people’s attempts that I’ve read or heard, that there’s almost a psychotic break, literally. Not the ‘I was psychotic over a period of time,’ but the ‘At that point I was not participating in consensual reality. The world had gotten very tiny and I just wanted everything to stop.

I wrote a note about how I was failing at everything and I had failed everybody and I went outside. It was dawn at this point and [talk of methodology]… I started to feel really aggravated about how long this was taking, which sounds kind of morbid and absurd to me now, but it was taking a long time. I was like, “Well, fuck this. There has to be something. I don’t know what, but there has to be something…”

[I] got everything all put away and I thought, ‘Oh, it’s about time to go to work.’ And so I nearly went to work and then I thought, ‘Oh wait, fuck… that’s probably really bad for [me].”

I think this gives a sense of how not attached to normal reality this whole period was because I was like, ‘Okay, well, I guess I should go to a doctor. Wait, I guess this is an emergency. Oh, well, I shouldn’t drive because what I’m worried about is that this has affected my brain in some way and I don’t want to kill anybody else.’

I called a taxi and I took a cab to the hospital. I walked in and they were like, “Hi, how can I help you?”

I just blurted out to the person, “I just tried to kill myself…” I believe I said something like, “And I’m okay now, but I just want to check that I haven’t injured myself.”

She was like, “We’ll see you right away.”

They got me in and I hadn’t been in [an] acute mental health situation like this before, and for some reason I thought they were gonna just check me out and let me go home. This seems pretty nutty now, but I discovered very quickly that they not only don’t check you out and send you home; they put a guard in your room and they start figuring out how they’re gonna lock you up…

Then I was—whatever they call it in Massachusetts. There’s an involuntary commit order, and I was in the hospital for about a week. It wasn’t helpful at all. I mean, it was calm and quiet, but it was actually a super posh hospital and so they didn’t actually make you go to group and they didn’t make you talk about what had happened. They were just kind of like—I don’t even know what to call it. Like, just sort of letting you chill out or something, and this was not useful. Nobody asked if I was being abused, even though when [my partner] came to the hospital, we ended up in some big, weird argument.

Nobody said, “Huh, this is not a good home environment for you to go back to.”

One friend came to visit me in the hospital, and other friends did too, but this one friend, he’s a physicist and very kind of nerdy and scientifically minded, and the way he put it to me was, “I don’t know what’s going wrong in your life, but something’s going really wrong in your life, and it seems like you need to change some variable. And so I talked to my housemates and we think you should come live at our house.”

I sat there in the hospital and said, “No, I, no, everything will be fine.”

I didn’t even feel like I was lying. I told him everything would be fine, that I was gonna go home and [my partner] and I were seeing this therapist and stuff…

Having attempted and, at that point, I was then put on a lot of psych meds and I hadn’t before that been on psych meds… the, sort of, being put on psych meds and Ativan and stuff all at once was…it was pretty heavy to deal with biochemically, you know? It was just really a whole new thing to deal with, and I found myself thinking, ‘Well, shit, I’m gonna always be crazy. I’m going to have to take these drugs apparently for the rest of my life, and I feel terrible.’ The Ativan made me hugely sleepy and it was really hard to concentrate. I thought, ‘Well, this isn’t okay. I didn’t sign up for this.’

Shittily enough, my abusive partner then had more ammunition for being abusive because I was crazy. I was obviously crazy. I had tried to kill myself. I was seeing a psychiatrist. I was taking psych meds, so anything I said was just the ravings of a crazy woman. So that, in addition to feeling kind of addled from the meds and already being really scared about my mental state was even more upsetting.

So the weeks are going by and I don’t remember what happened on that day, but I kept thinking, ‘I don’t want to live like this,’ and it was kind of lower key than the two days of drama that led to the first attempt. It was more of a gnawing sense of, ‘This isn’t any way to live, and I can’t trust my thoughts, and I can’t do this…’ [More talk of methodology.}

My partner had a habit of calling some friend of his, and so I knew he was gonna be on the phone. I emailed a couple of friends and apologized profusely to them about how I was really sorry that I couldn’t take it, but I just couldn’t, and there wasn’t anything they could have done and the kind of standard stuff, I think, that people say in notes… [methodology].

In the meantime, one of the friends that I had emailed was like, “Oh holy fuck, Rose is trying to kill herself,” and started trying to call my house, and he couldn’t get through because [my partner] was on the phone, so he called the police. He was in another state and I guess I had—you know, probably he was one of the people I emailed ‘cause he was in another state and couldn’t, I thought, do anything to stop it, but he called the police and the police interrupted the phone call or whatever, and all I remember from what happened next was [my partner] coming in my bedroom and screaming at me, “How could you do this to me?”

Which I think sums it up, and [he] carried me in a really clumsy fireman’s hold screaming at me the whole time about how stupid and crazy and, again, how I had done this to him. This time, when I went to the hospital, I don’t know what they did to keep me awake… I kept yelling at them to stop and they didn’t, ‘cause those guys are awesome. I mean, I realize this happens to them a lot. Probably not every single night, but I figure pretty often they’ve got over the deep end people screaming at them, “Don’t save my life!” And they do it anyway, so props to them.

This hospital was awesome, and I think that, in terms of if a magazine were reviewing the two hospitals, they would be like, “Oh, well, obviously Mass General’s all posh and nice, and Newton-Wellesley’s practically camp beds,” like these super hard beds with these little thin mattresses and stuff.

But they were like, “You are not here for a vacation. You are here because you are mentally ill and we are trying to help you. You will get up at 7:00 in the morning and you will go to all of your groups and you will talk all fucking day long because something’s really wrong.”

I lucked out. There were a lot of high functioning depressives in at the same time, so we got along with each other really well and were able to talk and I met people at that point who had attempted multiple times. I met other people who had never attempted. I was hearing directly from peers, “You’re so young. You have your whole life ahead of you.”

That carried more weight coming from peers than from professionals. One of the nurses tried pretty hard to get me to tell her that I was being abused and I still didn’t quite see it that way for some reason. But she planted pretty deep seeds and the awesome couples therapist fought with my insurance company to keep me in the hospital longer. So even 13 years ago the insurance company was like, “Oh, we only authorized this many days.”

He called them and said, “It is on your heads if this woman dies. If you send her home, she will attempt again and she will succeed and it will be your fault that this young woman died.”

They caved and they kept me there for longer. It ended up being about two weeks. When I got out and went to see [my therapist] the first time, he read me the riot act, and then he read [my partner] the riot act ‘cause [he] was saying stuff like—I can’t remember if it was the first session after this, but there was an ongoing theme of “When is she gonna forgive me for wrecking her room and reading her email and trashing her shit?” and, “Haven’t I apologized enough?”

The therapist said to him, “There are unforgivable acts and you have committed unforgivable acts, and if Rose forgives you someday that’s up to her, but she sure doesn’t have to.”

That was very empowering to hear, and as the weeks went on after that—so this was end of August, beginning of September—I was getting a lot of messages from people that my life was worth something and that they wanted to see me on a different path and that they were gonna help me do it. So I am incredibly lucky, the level of care that I got after the second attempt. I was seeing a psychiatrist once a week. I was seeing a therapist twice a week, my own therapist, and then was seeing the couples therapist once a week. Most people don’t get that level of intervention, and I had people who were willing to, really directly, possibly against what the usual party line is, advise me, as opposed to saying stuff that I was then supposed to go make my own decision.

The psychiatrist I was seeing said, “I think you’re a really smart young woman in an incredibly fucked up situation.” Those were his exact words. “You were in an incredibly fucked up situation and I want to see you get out of it.”

I started trying to think, ‘Okay, what am I gonna do? Is this what I want? How am I gonna get out of this?”

It got to be November, and I’ve told you bad things about this partner, and I think that that’s reasonable, because they are overwhelming and overwhelm any good that was there, and yet to make it clear why I had stayed for six years, there were really good times too. One of the things that had always been good was that around holidays and, like, throwing parties, we just…we did a great job. We had all these awesome friends, and for Thanksgiving we would invite a dozen people and family and any stray people who didn’t have some place to go. Another friend of mine and I loved to cook for an army, and so she and I would start planning in October our Thanksgiving menu.

So this was Thanksgiving in what had been a really rocky year, and so I was glad to be alive, and the cooking and planning and all was really distracting and fun. And we threw the best fucking Thanksgiving party you can imagine. There were people from different countries and there were little kids and there were 80 year olds, and the food was all perfect and we had everything ready at exactly the same time, and everybody ate until they were ready to pass out. It was awesome.

The next day, [my partner] started screaming at me again about something. It took until then to have this thought, which was, ‘I didn’t survive trying to kill myself twice to put up with this shit anymore.’  And then I thought, ‘Wow, okay, so I’ve been getting a lot of feedback about how impulsive I am, and so I don’t want to do anything rash, so I should sleep on it.”

I guess that was reasonable because I was safe at that moment, and honestly, leaving the house with a bag at 10:00 at night is probably not the best plan. So I slept on it and I woke up the next morning and I was like, “Alright, I totally still want to get the fuck out of here.”

I packed a bag and I went to work, and before I started doing any work, I called the friend I cooked Thanksgiving dinner with and I said, “So I need a place to stay ‘cause I just left Eric.”

She said, “Oh, thank god. Of course. Please. Our house is your house.”

So I showed up that night and I stayed with them about a week, and then I called the friend who had offered their house after the first attempt and said, “I’m staying with [friends], but their house isn’t so big.”

They were like, “Please, please come stay with us. We would love to have you.” While I was staying there, I started trying to look for my own place, ‘cause I thought, ‘Okay, well, I need to be self-sufficient and live on my own and stuff,’ which I wouldn’t advise someone now, but that was what I thought. My friends said that they wanted to have a house meeting with me, and I’m going into this part ‘cause I just feel like it’s indicative of how fucked up my reactions to other people were at that point, ‘cause I’d been staying there almost a month and was getting nothing but positive comments from them. It wasn’t even like they were making up positive things to say to take care of the injured girl. They just really liked having me live there. I’d make dinner and they’d be like, “This is awesome. Thank you so much. You made dinner. I’ll do the dishes now.”

I was like, “What? Everybody is so nice.”

It’s honestly taken years for me to realize that, actually, most people are nicer than insane, horrible, abusive men. You know, that’s kind of a low marker. Just about everybody else is doing better than that.

But my friends wanted to have a house meeting. I was like, “Oh god, I’ve worn out my welcome and they need me to move.”

And of course that’s not what they wanted to say. They were like, “So, we hear you on the phone and you’re looking for an apartment and stuff, but we just wanted to tell you that we’d be perfectly happy if you kept living here because we have an extra room and you’re really delightful to live with. You can live here as long as you want.”

I bawled like a baby. So I kept living there, and I lived there for about nine months, and it was incredibly helpful and healing to be just in a household of unrelated adults. There was a couple and then there were three other people who weren’t a part of that relationship and then me, and just to have nice, sane, calm people to live with who gave me compliments and didn’t criticize me all the time was super helpful. And I have never attempted since and things have been up and down over the years since then, but they’ve never been that bad.

A few years ago, something came up that made me want to say to a good friend of mine that I promised her that I wouldn’t attempt, that I would not kill myself, and that felt really good to promise. So when the story comes up and I confess or admit or, you know, whatever language we use—when I tell other people that I have these suicide attempts in my past, I tell them, “I promise you I won’t kill myself. I promise you that if I start feeling like I might be getting anywhere near that, I will go to the hospital.” And I have asked friends of mine to be vigilant on my behalf. If they hear things that worry them in stuff that I’m saying, to speak up, because what I’ve come to realize is that we have to take care of each other, and that one of the ways we can do that is by talking openly about our depression and our anxiety and our mental illnesses and then treatment for our mental illnesses and there’s no one right way to get better. I feel like it really is like any other chronic illness, whether it’s arthritis or diabetes or whatever. It’s not going away, and you have to stay aware and you have to learn what your own symptoms are and how to react to them so that it doesn’t get to the point where you’re suicidal again.

I was in the hospital one more time in 2010 and I wasn’t—I didn’t want to kill myself, but things were going really poorly and I was starting to have thoughts that I recognized as leading to that, and it was scary as fuck to show up at the hospital and ask…and tell them essentially that I was a harm risk, a self-harm risk. They listened and they asked if I had attempted.

I said, “No, I haven’t attempted, but things are not going well.”

Again, I was incredibly lucky. I have not always been this lucky in terms of insurance but, at that moment, I had super good insurance and I had a friend who had, while living in San Francisco, gone to Langley Porter, and I knew that they had been kind and helpful, and so I asked to go to Langley Porter. I went to UCSF and they did the whole intake thing and then they said, “Yes, you should be at Langley Porter,” and admitted me. They had a cognitive behavioral therapy unit that they did with people.

That was my first introduction to that, and learning those tools has helped enormously over the—I guess now it’s like three years since then, and I recommend [that] to other people. There’s books I recommend and if you have the money to do the therapy or the insurance, there’s stuff I recommend.

Just in the last year in the San Francisco tech community there have been some really painful events. We’ve had two suicides here locally and, just a week ago, somebody in Portland killed himself. What’s been beautiful is the response to that, and there’s actually some meet-ups happening in the area that, I think, are spreading… the Geeks & Depression meet-up. I just couldn’t be more glad to see people talking about it openly and that’s why, when I saw your project, I wanted to be involved with it.

Des: Tell me about your recommendations for how to take care of yourself.

Rose: To start with, I think that being open with the people I’m closest to has been part of my self-care, and so rather than being ashamed about my history of mental illness, I mention it. I don’t just randomly bring it up but, unfortunately, there turn out to be lots of opportunities. You know, when a friend starts saying things where you’re like, “I don’t know if that person’s just having a shitty day of if they’re depressed and maybe I should ask.”

One way of being in that conversation, I’ve found, is to open up about my own history so that then my friends can open up. And that turns out to be this really powerful mutual aid thing that yes, I’m attempting to help a friend, but it also helps me to talk about. Another thing that has helped over the last three years is being exposed to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).

I had the benefit of amazing resources up in the, sort of, Santa Rosa area. There was a day program so after I did a week at Langley Porter, they said, “We don’t just want to send you into the wild. We’d really like you to have a higher level of care than just, weekly or biweekly therapy appointments and this is kind of our gig: we think you’d really benefit from a daily program.”

With my sense of humor, I have referred to this since as ‘crazy girl day school,’ ‘cause I was staying at my own place, but then I’d get up in the morning and they create a routine for you. You have to show up by 9:00 and then when you show up you have to fill out your form. Doing that daily while you’re in the program models the kind of self-care that they hope that you’ll continue when you’re not in it and it’s really basic stuff. Are you eating three meals a day? Are they healthy? Are you getting any exercise? Did you go outside today? Self-ranking your emotional state, and so there’s a couple of questionnaires.

One of them is a depression one and one’s an anxiety one and so on a scale of zero to five, you answer a whole bunch of questions and then you add them up and you get a number that you can then chart over time and see, how am I doing? Are the things that I’m doing leading to fewer intrusive thoughts or negative self-talk or self-destructive behavior?

I kept up with that really seriously for about a year and now I don’t do that daily, but when I’m feeling worse I’ll turn back to it and get those books and start asking myself those questions: “Okay, how many hours did you sleep? Was it too many? Was it too few? Did you go outside? Did you get any exercise? Did you eat breakfast when you got up?”

Part of the core teaching of both of those methods is that there’s a really unavoidable mind-body connection and that it’s not just that there’s some crazy chemical thing going on up here. It’s that how you take care of yourself, your whole self, really affects how your thought processes will then go.

[…]

Des: Tell me more about the tech industry, ‘cause this has come up several times now in these interviews that I’ve done this week [in San Francisco]. Tell me more about what’s happened. How are people dealing with it and how can we change it?

Rose: Aaron [Swartz]’s suicide and Ilya [Zhitomirskiy]’s were very different situations, but my understanding is that, in each case there was a lengthy history of depressive affect that contributed. Ilya seems to me more… Well, I have to choose my words carefully because I knew Aaron, I didn’t know Ilya.

I’m brokenhearted about Aaron. He was such a brilliant young man and god, I wish he could have known how much support there would be for him that ended up expressed after the fact. I know that, in that narrowed worldview that I imagine he had gotten to, that he couldn’t access that. He couldn’t access the idea of it. He had to have known that he had friends all over the world who cared deeply about him and yet, in my experience, as your view of the universe just gets tinier and tinier and tinier, all that exists is how much pain you’re in and just wanting it to stop. But in Aaron’s case, we can’t underrate the affect that the government’s prosecution had on him.

With Ilya, I find it almost a more frightening story for the tech industry, for the entrepreneurial class as we move forward.

This actually brings me to some rockiness that I’ve been having personally over the last few weeks. So I’m trying to start a business—a magazine about hand spinning [yarn]. I mentioned to start with, that I do stuff with yarn, and I have every reason to believe that I can make a decent go of it with this magazine. Everybody I’ve talked to has been really supportive. There’s people who want to help with it. There’s people who think it’s a great idea. And yet, the process of trying to think about running this business, especially given my own history, has led to sometimes almost crippling self-doubt about how I’m gonna fuck it up. I’m gonna try to do this. It’s gonna be a huge failure. I’m gonna be incredibly embarrassed. Everybody’s gonna know what a fuck up I am. And so when I look at Ilya’s suicide, I think of it as being fueled by his sense of having failed at what he’d attempted as an entrepreneur.

What I’d like to see, and I think that this is happening with the Geeks & Depression meet-ups and with people talking more about mental illness in our peer groups, is a recognition that these things that we try to do, whether it’s coding an enormous project or starting a company or starting a publication or whatever, we’re really putting ourselves out there and it’s super scary, and if we have any kind of fragility to start with, we’re putting ourselves in an even more emotionally dangerous place where we get more than, say, the average person, afraid of failing and failing on a public stage. With the tech world particularly, ‘cause there’s so much attention paid to it and people are under such a microscope here, I think people overweight failure in some cases.

What’s been helping me recently is realizing that there’s this whole other group of people who are just blessed by not having an abusive background or not having a family history of mental illness or, you know, for whatever reason they’re just more resilient. So I see these individuals, they start company after company. Their company fails, they pick themselves up and they brush their hands off and they try it again.

And I don’t hear people saying out loud, you know, “Man, that guy’s a fuck up. He tried three companies before he had one that worked.”

People don’t do that. So I’ve been able to talk back to myself some and say, ‘Even if I fail, it’s not the end of the world, it’s not the end of my life. It will just be that I tried a project and it didn’t work, and I’ll move on and try something else.’

But for the last couple of months, I was finding myself having these kind of thoughts about, you know, I’ll be so humiliated, I’m gonna fail, and realizing that I’m guaranteed to fail if I don’t try, and I guess that sounds kind of self-helpish, but it’s true. I feel a little incoherent at the moment. I feel like I’m not saying this as well as I want to. But having the example around us of people who, on the one hand are crippled by their fears, to the point of even killing themselves, and seeing other people be so able to bounce back, it encourages me to try to think of myself as that person who can bounce back and to not get paralyzed thinking of myself as a person who’s gonna not be able to keep going.

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About Live Through This

Live Through This is a series of portraits and true stories of suicide attempt survivors. Its mission is to change public attitudes about suicide for the better; to reduce prejudice and discrimination against attempt survivors; to provide comfort to those experiencing suicidality by letting them know that they’re not alone and tomorrow is possible; to give insight to those who have trouble understanding suicidality, and catharsis to those who have lost a loved one; and to be used as a teaching tool for clinicians in training, or anyone else who might benefit from a deeper understanding of first-person experiences with suicide.

More Information

Tax-deductible donations are made possible by Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization, which sponsors Live Through This. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Live Through This must be made payable to Fractured Atlas only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Please Stay

If you’re hurting, afraid, or need someone to talk to, please reach out to one of the resources below. Someone will reach back. You are so deeply valued, so incomprehensibly loved—even when you can’t feel it—and you are worth your life.

Find Help

You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and pressing Option 1, the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 (U.S.) or 877-330-6366 (Canada), or The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386.

If you don’t like talking on the phone, you can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741. If you’d like to talk to a peer, warmline.org contains links to warmlines in every state. If you’re not in the U.S., click here for a link to crisis centers around the world.

Live Through This is dedicated to the lives of so many friends and family members lost to suicide over the years. If you would like to add the name of a loved one to this list, please email me.

Live Through This is dedicated to the lives of so many friends and family members lost to suicide over the years. If you would like to add the name of a loved one to this list, please email me.