My Three-Time Suicide Attempt Story – Why I Don’t Regret Them
The Bipolar Burble welcomes guest post writer Kerry Martin who has started multiple non-profits (links at the bottom), lives with bipolar disorder and is a three-time suicide attempt survivor. She bravely shares her story.
I’m gay. I’m bipolar. And, I’m a three-time suicide survivor. Today, I’m out. I’m proud. And, I’m still alive and kicking. But I used to be closeted, ashamed and suicidal. While I wasn’t diagnosed as bipolar until my early 40s, I have always struggled with depression and have tried to take my life not once, not twice but three times.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the first step to suicide prevention is removing the stigma by starting the conversation.
My Story of Suicide Attempts – Coming Out of the Closet
Towards the end of my second year at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, I found myself confronting what many consider a personal choice. Was I going to live the rest of my life as a gay person or was I going to end my life? I choose the latter. It was a personal choice for me: my own free will to swallow a bottle of pills. But was it really a choice? If we lived in a perfect world where everyone was accepted for who they were, would I have chosen suicide at that moment?
I am thankful this happened in 1992 and that the world has changed a lot since then, albeit prejudice still abounds. I’m very happy to report I did finally come out to my family who love me anyway.
My Story of Suicide Attempts – Dealing with Bipolar and Being Judged
The second suicide attempt was after I found out I was bipolar. I was manic at the time and completely wasted out of my mind — as those challenged with bipolar tend to abuse alcohol to quell the internal madness and tireless treadmills in our heads. I was also feeling overwhelmed by someone close to me telling me they were disappointed in me. Judgement is such an ugly and powerful beast.
I’m glad I was diagnosed as bipolar because it eventually led me to start a non-profit called Hope Xchange, for bipolars by bipolars. Our mission is to empower the bipolar community to help itself and thereby restore hope and to change the suicide statistics. I don’t want others in the bipolar community to go what I went through and to feel they are alone.
My Story of Suicide Attempts – I Almost Died Because I Couldn’t Deal with the Pain Anymore
The third suicide attempt was when I went through a profound depression that lasted over a year, and for two months of that I stared at a bookcase at my parent’s house. While I had a tremendous support system thanks, in large part, to my family, sometimes it’s just not enough. Ironically, I felt I was a burden to those trying to support me. I could not handle this nor could I handle the bleak darkness and feeling of being so incredibly alone. I had lost hope.
I’m glad I survived. It was this episode that led me to launch a new community and wellness program, the Hope Xchange Timebank. I wasn’t ready to venture out into the real world and get a job. However, I was ready to give back as that is what gives me joy and my life purpose. In addition to helping our most vulnerable and socially isolated, our Timebank gives those who are depressed a way to give back and a chance to heal before returning to work, all from the safety and security of their homes.
After My Suicide Attempts – My Life Today
Today I give back. I’m a cause-marketing strategist at Apical Marketing and donate my profits to Hope Xchange. I also volunteer for local non-profits near-and-dear to another passion, urban farming and community gardens.
Don’t get me wrong. Bipolar is a lifelong challenge and I still struggle with mania and depression, but I have learned along the way – probably the hardest way possible – different coping skills that make the mania not so high so the inevitable depression is not so deep. I also have an amazing support system around me – my family, close friends and great doctors – and I’m blessed with a beautiful life partner who loves me unconditionally. I realize we aren’t all so lucky.
No Shame for Those Who Have Attempted Suicide or Have Bipolar Disorder
There is no shame in living with bipolar or in attempting suicide. There is shame in showing disappointment rather than compassion for those struggling with bipolar or depression. There is shame in knowing someone that is suicidal and choosing to do nothing.
Only 1-in-5 people seek help when they are depressed. If you find yourself in a dark, lonely place and don’t see a way out, please talk to someone. I am so thankful I survived my own suicide attempts but not everyone does. With help comes hope. If you need to talk to someone right away, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which operates 24/7, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
It does get better. I’ve been there. I lived it. I know how hard it is. But please hold onto hope.
I want my story to bring you solace and comfort in knowing you’re not alone, that there is hope and that it does get better. I hope as well that it helps those closest to us understand – to not be ashamed of us, be disappointed in us, judge us, or stand by and do nothing when we reach out for help. When we’re suicidal, others have a profound impact on whether we get help or a bottle of pills.
About Author Kerry Martin
Kerry Martin is the Non-profit Founder of Hope Xchange, Cause Marketing Strategist at Apical Marketing, Co-Founder of the Hope Xchange Timebank, and Founder of Give a Grape. You can also connect with Kerry online on Twitter and Facebook. This article was also brought to you by contributing editor Nellie-Jean Russell of Aldarmar Life.