Breathe

Did you know that October 10 is Worldwide Mental Health Day? If I am going to be completely honest, I didn’t either until I saw a post from my internet friend Joni. I’m still figuring out what is going on in this space and getting reacquainted with the blog, my new self, and all of you. My tattoo is a huge part of me and I thought I would share the story again today for all of those who suffer in silence.

We all need our versions of the semicolon and this is mine.


On the inside of my left wrist is a small note that I left to myself many years ago.

Breathe.

It’s a reminder that when things get rough to keep going.

Breathe.

It’s a story that I typically don’t tell unless you ask about that little bit of script.

Breathe.

I have dealt with suicidal thoughts most of my life.

Most people have a to-do list, I have a mental to-stay list. I don’t talk about it much because who wants to hear that I have a plan in place and there are dark days I am annoyed that I still have items on my to-stay list and can’t follow through with my plan.

On an evening several years ago all of the stars aligned and everything pointed to this being ‘the day’.

My husband and the girls were out of the house and the husband 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. I wasn’t going to answer the call because I didn’t want to be distracted and I didn’t want her to think ‘what if I had just gone over instead of calling her.’

No one should ever have to live with that kind of guilt, so I answered.

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, because slightly tipsy and pushy friends are like that, so I decided to alter my plans for a few hours and stop by.

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 so I could go drop her off and then head home to finish up life, I realized that the moment had passed. 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 or 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 or to be concerned.

I share it because more people need to be talking about it and not just today.

 

Edited to add: When I am feeling especially overwhelmed I listen to this.

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Comments

  1. Dawn Detweiler says:

    Love you and want you here. Stay.

  2. I love that you’re here. And I know it’s hard but I appreciate that you do take that minute. You can always text me (and I will text back.) If you call, you don’t need to even talk, I’ll breathe with you. Love you.

  3. Your friend was brilliant in that moment. Thank you for sharing your story, for staying *here*. XOXO

Trackbacks

  1. Meet Vivien says:

    […] know I know, I don’t write for years and I come back with hey world I have this tattoo because I didn’t kill […]

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  3. […] I’ve written about my own struggles with suicide before and why my tattoo is so important to me. You can read about it and the significance behind my breathe tattoo here. […]

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