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My name is Riley livingston, and this is my story

I am 17 and I survived Suicide


So i'm going to start off by saying you aren't your illness, you are so much more.

On July 16th 2002 my father’s demons took over his body, I was two years old, circling the sun only two times and he’d already disappeared. My father struggled all his life with mental illness, he went to therapy, tried all sorts of medication and was hospitalized on numerous occasions . As well as my father being gone my mother had to take on two roles that no parent should have to do alone, however it is possible. My mother is one of the strongest people I know and i'm truly inspired to keep fighting no matter how big or small the battle truly is.

As long as I can remember I was told that he was “sick” and passed “unexpectedly”. What I was told wasn’t false information, no questions were asked until my second year of middle school in August of 2013 . My mom was heading out to a birthday party for her at the time boyfriend's son, I can’t quite remember what had triggered me to want to know the truth so badly. So my mother did the best she could to let me know he took his own life, which I didn't understand. I’ve never cried so much that rivers began to form in my bed, I constantly thought that I wasn’t good enough for him. The phrase i made up in my head was that i was a baby with a “two year warranty” and he didn't like the product that was give, so he dropped his everything and left. How is anyone supposed to think when a loved one has taken their own life without thinking that there had been something that you did to contribute or there was something you could have done.
All the stages of grief became one whole life form and got ready to ride the rollercoaster of my life.

Later on that year my struggles became more than just the grief of my dad, my own demons began to fester in my brain. It got so bad that i turned to self injury, believing that physically harming myself was the way out of the pain i was feeling. Leading me to the emergency room, then to a month long hospitalization (i was only 13-14). After being hospitalized i chose to look for a different school whether it be independence or a different high school all together. I found a lovely campus that was able to cater to my needs, every wednesday we received group therapy and had access to staff trained in order to help. I honestly can't remember much of my beginning years at this school, i think i've blocked bad memories growing into me forgetting even the good ones. Freshman to junior year were mainly me focusing on my grief over my father and trying to change my thought process into something else. Understanding that i was not a “two year warranty” that my father did love me, i definitely think that my own struggles with mental illness helped me understand more on how he was feeling. It's hard to understand mental illness if you've never experienced it at some point or have lost someone to suicide. No matter how much research you do, you still won't be able to grasp the concept completely. Over the year’s i’ve had slip ups in my recovery aka relapse, and that’s okay recovery isn’t linear. Recovery is full of ups and downs whether we like it or not, it’s definitely a journey.

At the end of my junior year, i started a body positive/mental health instagram (@selflovingbutterfly) which has helped a lot in my recovery. Being able to express my thoughts on all sorts of topics such as activism from POC, people of all body sizes, sexuality, and mental illness. however even though this is such a positive aspect of my life, i've been experiencing worsening depression and suicidal thoughts. Feelings of being a burden began to appear again, that nobody cares if i disappear. Writing these words bring me to tears, because part of me knows these negative thoughts are not true. Part of me wants to continue fighting, but the other side is drowning in an ocean of madness. I had a therapist say “it could be worse, you could have cancer” after expressing my thoughts of killing myself. Her words repeat in my head like a broken record, even though apologies have been made you can't erase it from my head. On august 31st my day began to shift and the only thing on my mind was suicide, it began to eat me to the point of me being completely terrified. I reached out to my teacher which then sent me to my school counselor, we decided that I could go home safe. I felt like I got what was off my chest, but later that night my chest began to get heavier and heavier. The next day the day began to drag, and all I could think was “If I don’t go to the hospital, I’ll hurt myself” so right when I hopped in the car I asked my cousin to take me to the emergency room. From there on I talked to the behavioral therapist which gave me the suggestion of going to php (partial hospitalization program). The program is usually only ran for one week, I ended up staying four due to the staff thinking I needed to stay longer and get more help. Which is completely okay, I’ve learned that it’s okay to ask for help. I’m learning that I need to set boundaries with others to protect myself of becoming completely overwhelmed. I deserve to be happy, and feel safe within my environment.
Saturday the 30th of September I participated in my second suicide prevention walk, I’m honored to to say they let me participate in their bead ceremony. In which my story of my struggle with the loss of my father and my own struggle with mental illness. I feel like I can help those who are going through the stages of grief with with the loss of a parent to suicide or even just losing someone to it. I feel alone sometimes that I’m the only one who has gone through this loss, however it’s not true. I’m not alone in this battle, there are strong communities like the American foundation for suicide prevention who can provide you with the support you need. That’s what I hope to be, I hope to help those in need as well as help myself.


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  1. Riley i know it can still be hard sometimes but you have done exceptionally well and are a really strong person, and its amazing that you are doing things to help raise awareness and help people to understand more . Stay strong 🙂

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