Not the End.

I remember it like it was yesterday, but I couldn’t tell you the specific day or time. It was 2014. I know it was in the evening and I’m pretty sure it was November. October had been a particularly difficult month for me emotionally, not because of any particularly tragic events but because my depression and anxiety so far outweighed my ability to think logically and rationally. I was in a dark place. And no matter what I did, what I told myself, what I read, who I surrounded myself with, what I ate, how much I slept or exercised, I couldn’t pull myself out of it. I fell deeper and deeper and deeper.

This night that I remember so vividly, I got in my car and drove and drove and drove in the dark. I wondered what it would be like if I pulled over somewhere in a ditch and just slept and slept. When would someone find me? Would I even want to be found? I wondered what it would be like to live somewhere with snow and ice and found comfort in the thought that if I fell asleep in my car in the snow there was a chance I might not wake up.

I didn’t want to live.

 And so I came up with a plan.

Before that night, I don’t think I had ever truly contemplated ending my own life. I don’t think I had really meant it if the thought crossed my mind. But that night, I meant it. I strongly considered it. I decided I could no longer face the mounting depression—constant heaviness and apathy—and anxiety—persistent fear and dread—that permeated my life. So I made a plan.

Every time I’ve read an article regarding a suicide or spoken to someone about a suicide attempt, I’ve encountered the same recurring word: Selfish. What a selfish decision. What a selfish thing to do. I can’t believe someone could be so selfish. He took the easy way out. She gave up. 

Let me tell you from experience: my suicidal thoughts were far from selfish.

I cried thinking of my three-year-old son and hoped he wouldn’t even know what he lost. I cried thinking of my husband and the responsibilities I would leave him with after we devoted so much of our lives to each other. I cried imagining my parents feeling at fault—how could I do that to them after everything they did for me my entire life? I cried wondering if I had spent enough time with my brother and mulled over the milestones in his life that I would most likely miss. I cried picturing my students, knowing that this decision would send them a heartbreaking message and cause them to feel abandoned, some of them yet again. My mind raced with lists of names of people I should leave a note for. Anyone I loved or remotely cared for, anyone who commented on my pictures on Facebook or worked with me in any capacity deserved some correspondence—some clarity—so they wouldn’t have to feel guilty or responsible or like they could’ve done something to prevent this, I thought to myself. I don’t want them to hurt. I don’t want them to think they are to blame. 

That’s what I was thinking while simultaneously thinking that I could not possibly survive another day. Empty. Alone. Hopeless. Black. Sad. Guilty.

I stopped driving. I closed my tear-filled eyes in a Target parking lot and envisioned my plan: diving headfirst off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in the wintry weather. Or maybe I would simply lean forward, stand on my tiptoes, and free fall like a bungee jumper. It would be peaceful, freeing. The air outside was so cool and crisp that night that I thought maybe, just maybe, I could take one deep breath before I hit the water—the deep breath I hadn’t been able to achieve for months and months. It would be quick, right? They say that hitting water at that speed from that height is like clashing into glass. I would wait until there were very few or no other cars crossing the bridge. I wouldn’t want anyone traumatized by what I was about to do. I would die instantly. All my worries and sorrows and numbness and darkness would disappear. All the ways I’ve failed everyone else would melt away and be forgotten, just like me. Someone else would step into the roles I played. And the world would carry on. It always does.

I had purposely placed my phone on silent. I had vowed not to answer anyone, not read my husband’s text messages asking where I was or what I was doing. It was better this way, I told myself. 

But I did it. Sitting in that Target parking lot, I thought of my husband and my innocent son sitting at home. I read a text and I answered it. I text my husband. And I think that’s the only reason why I didn’t follow through with my plan that night. That and the fact that I hadn’t written all the letters I knew I wanted to write. I was desperate. I was ready to leave this earth. But I hadn’t written the letters. 

And I text him. 

And after I text him, and after sitting some more in the dark parking lot with my head on the steering wheel, I decided it couldn’t be tonight. It wouldn’t be tonight. I wanted to kiss my son. I had things left to do and say.

I didn’t drive to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. I never made it there.

I turned around and I drove home. 

My hopelessness didn’t leave me. My madness and sadness and desperation didn’t get better right away. And it took over a month—on New Year’s Eve actually, as I remember that conversation across a dinner table at a crowded restaurant so clearly—for me to tell my husband what I actually had felt and planned that night. Even then, I had a hard time getting the words out. Because it’s embarrassing. It’s disgusting. It’s shameful. It’s scary. 

It took eight more months before I saw a doctor, asked for help, and finally decided to take the medication he prescribed me. 

I wanted to end my life. Truly wanted to. The leap off the bridge and the crash into the cold water appealed to me far more than continuing daily life. 

I wanted to end my life. But I didn’t.

I didn’t.

According to Project Semicolon, “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve ended a sentence but chose not to. You are the author and the sentence is your life.”

Visit their website. Reach out for help. It’s not the end. ❤️