I am 26 and I survived Suicide
We all get stressed, depressed, upset, and so on—but to truly have a suicidal inclination is reserved for a relatively small number of people in my opinion. There is a difference between thinking or talking about killing oneself, and truly having a deep desire to end one's own life. This was my reality seven years ago, 21 March 2011.
I grew up with three fathers; My Biological Father, My Step Father and this other man. You see, my mom and dad got divorced when my brothers and I were very young. We ended up in a block of flats, and I shared a room with my two brothers. I still remember – since the divorce – every year on my birthday I had to decide whether I wanted to take cake to school or to take one friend with me to dinner because we could not really afford more than that. Life was turned upside down after my parents’ divorce. Mom was not home often, and it was usually just myself and my brothers, sometimes we had a nanny.
This other man came into the picture and sure, we were happy because mom was smiling again he helped a lot financially, but nothing really prepared us for this chapter of our lives. I cannot pinpoint the exact moment in my life when things started going downhill but after a few years with this other man in our lives, things started to affect me mentally. I am not going to go into detail because then I would have to write a book, but what I will say is that this other man had strange ways. He broke me down daily with his negative comments, I could never eat without hearing a comment about my weight. He controlled every single aspect of our lives. No decision was made without his approval. At one stage we use to go to a nude farm and believe it or not, but I have been grounded before for refusing to walk around naked amongst strangers. I cried every time we had to go but it was a “family outing” and my mother was powerless. It started with emotional abuse but unfortunately it never stopped there. I can recall so many nights where I sat in my shower, scared and alone while listening to my mother and this other man screaming at one another. Sometimes when I close my eyes I still relive these moments. Things often got physical and I would see the marks and bruises on my mom’s body the next morning. Weeks turned into months and as time passed I became more involved in their arguments, trying to protect my mother. I changed from this fragile little girl crying in the shower to a woman who fought back. Not many of us have the luxury of being a child, life forces us to grow up even when we are only 12 years old. There were times that I walked in on him, pointing a pistol at my mother, threatening to shoot her and all of us. I have had a knife thrown at me, I have walked away with bruises of my own a few times, but the more time passed the more troubled and rebellious I became. I could say so much more about the events that happened and the things our family experience that would probably give you chills however this story is not a pity party, this story of mine is about falling and standing up. So, the bits I shared now sums it up vaguely, and as they say… with every action there is an opposite or equal reaction.
Eventually I cracked.
One night as I sat in my room, my coffee mug fell on the ground and shattered into a million piece. I picked up one of the pieces, mesmerized by the sharp edges, I started etching into my skin. It was innocent at first but the feeling I experienced when I watched the droplets of blood drip down my leg was a release of emotion like I never felt before. Then it started. Every time I became overwhelmed by fear or anger due to yet another night of listening to arguing and fighting coming from my mom’s bedroom, I would grab my piece of broken glass and start scratching. As time passed it went from a small piece of glass to anything sharp enough to draw blood. As I got older I stopped eating because it felt like that was the only part of my life this other man had no control over. And I was sick and tired of hearing how I was too fat or too this or too that. I always had an “attitude problem” Oh God how I hate that word, “attitude” It became so bad that I would sometimes go weeks with eating just an apple a day. My weight and control over my weight became an obsession. I threw up any food that was eaten during a binge and punished myself by avoiding food for a day or two. All I could think about was food and controlling the amount of food I ate. My unhealthy eating habits carried on until my early twenties.
During my teen years things escalated and I started suffering from depression. Seeing that Manic depression and Bipolar disorder is common from both sides of my family, I am not surprised at all. I spend most evenings of my senior year in my room, alone, drinking bottles of wine every evening just so that I could pass out and forget about everything. And before you ask, I lived outside in my own flat which was probably not the best thing for me. It was then when the seed of the thought of suicide was planted in my head. I felt worthless, I felt like I was the problem and I started losing hope. I knew that if I were to be in the wrong frame of mind at the right time in the right place I would impulsively take my own life. That was the thing about self-harm. At least for me. I was never in a clear state of mind; the deepest and worst cuts were always made when I “blacked out”. Some evenings I even took painkillers just so that I could pass out but unfortunately it was never the prescribed dosage, I always took much more than I should have. They left me feeling drowsy and my whole body was tingling. Again, feeling anything other than hopelessness and despair was the main goal behind self-harm, drinking alcohol and drinking medication.
At the end of my senior year I went to Holland with two of my best friends to au-pair. It went well, until about the second month. I had so much time to myself, and during my alone time I reflected on my life and the reflection process started to impact me negatively. I had a boyfriend at the time whom I never really told about my past. Eventually my moods started to affect my relationship so much that I had to tell him the whole truth. He rejected my past and demanded an explanation as to why I never told him from day one. His response had an extremely negative effect on me. To open talk about something personal and to expose a raw wound only to get rejected can really make you feel unworthy of acceptance and love. A few things happened in Holland which sent me straight back to being that little girl, sitting in the shower feeling frightened and powerless. After a huge fight with my two best friends, I found myself sitting on a train travelling back to my host family. I was listening to music which triggered all my memories. My best friend wrote me off that day and the things she said haunted me. I heard how worthless I was, and how I was to blame for everything. Of course, while she said that all I could hear were the words of this other man. It may just as well have been him speaking. I got home that evening and my host mother asked me whether everything was okay. With tears in my eyes I just said yes and that I will talk about it in the morning.
That evening I wrote my suicide note to my mother and I drank two boxes of pills.
They were supposed to kill me.
The label did say overdose leads to death.
Two boxes, 48 pills, I was 100% sure that it will work.
To my surprise the children woke me up the next morning, laughing at the fact that I “overslept”. I could not remember what I was doing the night before, it was not until I threw up for the second time that I realized I failed my attempt. I walked the children to school and on my way back I tried to convince myself that I do not want to die; after all, I am a strong person and a stubborn one. It worked, and I convinced myself that things will be okay, until I got to the front door and I struggled for about 3 minutes to open the door.
It was those three minutes that sent me into absolute rage.
Three minutes that changed everything.
I blacked out from rage.
Next minute I found myself sitting in my room, on the third floor of the building staring at an apple knife, ironically. I took the blade and pressed it down on my skin, dragging it up my arm. The blade was blunt and did not cut deep enough which made me snap completely and I just cut across my wrist as hard as I can. I cut through the tendons and I watched the blood flow. I didn’t feel a thing as I walked to my bathroom and laid down on the floor which was quickly covered
in a puddle of blood,
But then somewhere between cutting my wrist open and staring at the ceiling I realized that this is not how I imagined my life to end. Survival instinct kicked in and as I panicked I contacted my mother, and I told her what I did. I knew that this cut is not one I can hide and stick together with sticky tape like all the others. This one will kill me. Somehow, she got hold of my host mother and notified me that my host mother is on her way. Again, I laid, waiting. The feeling started to come back in my arm and it was excruciating. Pain shot through my fingers and my wrist was throbbing – my hand turned ice cold and at this stage I was moaning from pain. The moment my host mother walked through my bedroom door I started sobbing like a baby.
I was broken.
One week later I got deported from Holland.
When I arrived home, I had a new father. My stepfather – and the other man was gone. This alone put me on the road to forgiveness and recovery. Yes, I was a fucking wreck of note and the guilt ate me alive. To see the hurt and the pain my actions brought upon my family and my friends is a feeling I will never forget. I learned to love and appreciate my family more than ever before. I do not know where the other man went, but wherever he is, I want him to know that I forgive him from the bottom of my heart. To my father, my stepfather and the other man, I love you all dearly. To my mother, my brothers, my friends and family – you are my lifeline and my beacon of hope.
It has taken me years to become the person I am today.
Fuck what you read on the internet about “My suicide attempt changed my life” as if this change happened instantly. The way people portray the aftermath of such an attempt makes you think that life was instantly better for them due to this “eye opening experience” and in turn it makes you feel like an even bigger failure because you still have a few pretty fucking dark days. Let me tell you something, it has taken me 7 years – I repeat, 7 LONG ASS YEARS – filled with extreme ups and downs to recover. Do you honestly think the thought of ending my life miraculously left my mind after my failed attempt? Oh hell no. I had a serious relapse last year, there are fresh scars on my leg and I had to fight to get through some days because my mind was trying to take over again. It is not easy and it never will be but you have to keep going. For the past seven years I have been in emotionally abusive relationships and I have settled for men who, just like the other man, held no value in me. Growing up being told you are worthless does in fact affect the way you see yourself. You struggle to trust men, to trust yourself and you become attached to anything that feels good because nothing has felt good your whole life. My upbringing has affected me in so many emotional ways, it took me seven years to find the root cause of why I am the way I am and choose the people I choose.
Look, there is no deny that what happened completely changed my life—it knocked it upside down, flipped it inside out, and left me feeling soulless and butt-naked trying to navigate my way along a path I had no fucking idea how to walk down yet. Seven years on, I still feel like I’m learning to walk it. I probably always will be, I just doubt anything will be quite as intense, full-on, confusing, and damn-right fucking hideous, as the life that hit right after I overdosed and slit my wrist open. Fuck, it was hard.
I don’t think any words can do it justice yet, because the fact that I’ve actually come through the other side, and am able to talk of it as something that happened—rather than something that’s happening—is the thing that leaves me wanting to write and write, and talk and share. I know that I am not the only person in the world who has experienced this and you need to know that you are also not alone.
In so many ways, my life has sucked, and been so fucking hard, since the overdose—in so many ways, it couldn’t be further from where I thought it would be, and I couldn’t be further from where I thought I would be.
But, I’m also doing everything I’ve needed and deserved to do, for fucking ages—to rest, let-it-all-out, learn to parent myself in ways I was never parented, and to begin to cultivate self-compassion, self-forgiveness, self-acceptance, self-love…
And, ultimately, to heal.
On my 26th Birthday, I got my dragon tattoo over the scars on my leg; this dragon represents strength for I have a burning fire in my heart regardless of the past. It is over, the pain is gone. My road to healing has been a long one. I never got to know and end to life, I simply got to know a beginning.
The way I know myself now, is miles ahead of how I knew myself four years ago, or even just two.
I know the things or people that nourish me, and I refuse to do anything different, unless I’m the one choosing it—choosing to do the option that doesn’t nourish or choosing to do the thing I don’t need to do, out of a seeming need to self-destruct. But the fact I can make this choice between nourishment and destruct, is huge—and things are never as extreme as they used to be.
I can hear my instinct louder than ever before, and for the first time in my life I am starting to listen.
I have learned to love my body, to nourish my body and to treat her with respect and self-love. I no longer eat an apple a day, but I eat for function and strength. Two years ago, I started training daily and I even competed in two fitness competitions. It was never about winning to me, for me I already won because I no longer looked at food the same. I won because I built a healthy relationship with food through my journey. This year of course I am aiming higher than that because I have adapted to the mentality of always trying to be better than what I was yesterday. Every day I try harder and harder. My family and friends never understood why I became so addicted to training but for me, it has become a way to let out any frustration I may be feeling, and it makes me feel great about myself. Exercise truly is one of the best past time activities I have discovered, and I will pour my heart and soul into it for as long as I live. My entire body has changed which obviously has given me confidence and I will always try and push others to achieve their personal goals when it comes to fitness because it has changed my mind and my life enormously!
But listen up, there are so many people out there who will judge you and try to break you down. There’s so much stigma out there for people who have mental health issues. And there is even more stigma for people who have attempted suicide. At this point in my life, I can’t be concerned or fearful about what other people will think, feel, worry or say about me. What other people think or say about me is none of my business and it has never really been any of my business. In that, I have found huge freedom. And that is what I hope you will find; Freedom. I encourage you to fall in love with yourself and your life. To tell yourself every single day that no matter what life throws at you, you can do anything. You just need to believe that you are worthy. Once you believe that then no one can break you down. It will take hard work, God it is hard, I know! But do not give up on yourself. Don’t you fucking dare. As long as you are breathing, living hope exists. Hope is typically a matter of perspective. While I couldn’t see any hope remaining on that March day seven years ago, it was there, lurking, waiting for me to reclaim it. The thing with hope is that many times it takes action in order to reclaim it. Reclaim your hope. TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE. Mental illness or not, the power always lies in your hands even if you need to go see someone for help. The decision to go and get help is still yours to make, no one else’s.
The power lies in your hands.
I am sharing the shortish version of my story today, it has taken me seven years to feel truly comfortable enough to speak about it. My heart bursts open with warmth and admiration for myself, and the nakedness of relief and gratitude overwhelms me whenever I realize this that I’m now able to talk about it in this way. To talk about it will bring you healing to. Maybe through sharing my story you will realize that you are not the only one going through depression, anxiety, eating disorders and the list goes on. There is always, ALWAYS, someone out there who has had it worse off but who have CHOSEN to make their ending better than their beginning. Trust me when I say this, there are more people out there who are feeling just like you. Once you realize that then maybe you will feel less alone. The more I have initiated conversation and opened up about my past, the more people responded with “I went through something similar” or “Wow I know of someone who went through something like that” and this has made me realize that there are more people out there who are carrying deep wounds than you know. Maybe I also want to tell you to stop feeling sorry for yourself because you are not the only one going through something or who have gone through something. Maybe all I want you to get from this is that everything really does lie in your own hands and that you truly do have the strength and the power to take control if you believe it.
Just remember that there is hope, THINGS DO GET BETTER but it has to start with YOU; your story is not over, it has just begun.
If you enjoyed Marisca De Beer’s story, send a bit of encouragement in the comments section below or share this story with others.