Such a simple word with such an impactful meaning for me that is forever inscribed on my inner wrist.
People comment and ask why I need a reminder to do what my body should be able to do on its own.
People wonder if I have it there because of my severe persistent asthma.
People ask me if I was drunk when I got the tattoo done.
I have dealt with suicidal thoughts most of my life. There are always reasons why I shouldn’t do it and most of my reasoning for staying is because I don’t want to inconvenience anyone else. I don’t talk about it much because who wants to hear that I have a plan in place and some days I am annoyed that I have items on my mental ‘To Stay’ list.
One day, some time ago, all of the stars aligned and everything was pointing to this being the day. My husband was gone, as were the girls, and he would be the one to find me. Not that it will be easy to find me, but he knows where to look as we have had frank and honest conversations about these feelings swirling in my head. As I drove home from getting gas in the car, because the last thing you want your loved one to have to worry about when they are driving around making funeral arrangements is getting gas in the car, my phone rang. At first I decided I wasn’t going to take the call, but then I felt guilt that this friend might think that if she had only come over to my house that she could have saved me. No one should ever have to live with that kind of guilt, so I answered.
I remember listening to myself on the phone, my voice was flat and when she asked me if I wanted to come over for a glass of wine, I refused, telling her that I had plans. She knew I was alone for the weekend and wouldn’t take no for answer, so I decided that I could wait a few more hours since no one would be home at my house for days. As we sat in her basement sipping on our wine, she told me I didn’t seem like myself and asked what plans were so important that I was trying to blow her off. I don’t remember what I answered but I told her I was doing something permanent.
I remember the look of panic in her eyes as she finished off her glass of wine and tried to lighten the mood by asking if I meant getting a tattoo. Before I knew it I was being whisked off to one of our local tattoo parlors that were open at 10 o’clock on a Saturday night. And when I say whisked I mean I drove, because my friend had had a bit too much wine, couldn’t drive, and doesn’t realize that she saved my life.
As I pondered what I was going to get tattooed on my body, I realized that the moment had passed. That if I went through with my plan, my friend would feel guilty because she didn’t see the signs. I chose breathe to be tattooed on my wrist as a reminder that spur of the moment decisions have permanent consequences and cannot be undone. When life seems too hard, when the voices get too loud, when I have all of the items checked off of my list I need to take a moment and just breathe.
Often times when I am struggling or stressed, you will find me rubbing my wrist and just trying to breathe.
I have tried to talk to doctors about my issues and they all seem surprised because I look happy and well adjusted. They don’t want to hear about my anxiety or the sleepless nights. They don’t want to hear about how I can have a rational conversation with them about the horrible things I want to do to myself while I’m dressed nicely and functioning as an adult. They have given me multiple choice tests that I second guess being truly honest with them on because I don’t want to seem that crazy. Because when things you think or do are staring back at you in that generic black and white font, they seem worse. Maybe they are right, maybe it’s not that bad. I mean everyone has stress in their life, right?
My husband has asked me if I am afraid that one day I will run out of reasons to not follow through with my plan. My answer changes based on my mood and mental state at the time. But afraid, not really.
I don’t share this to make you uncomfortable. I don’t share it for you to be concerned. I share it because more people need to be talking about it and not just during the month of September.
September is Suicide Prevention Month.