‘A guy passed me and asked, ‘Are you okay?’ I was preparing to jump into the cold lake and end everything once and for all.’: Suicide attempt survivor urges ‘the sun will shine again for you’

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Disclaimer: This story contains details pertaining to suicide and suicidal ideation that may be triggering to some.

“October 17, 2019. The day I thought would be my last day on earth. I never planned on living past that day, but here I am to tell my story. I’m alive when I thought I for sure wouldn’t be. 

I sat on a park bench taking what I thought would be my last breaths on this earth. I watched as the cold water in the lake moved back and forth. I prepared myself to jump in and end everything once and for all. As I sat there, I saw a little boy fishing with his dad and knew I couldn’t traumatize him by drowning myself in front of him. So, I sat on the park bench with another plan in mind. I decided to overdose. I sat there taking handfuls of pills. 

My body was shaking and I didn’t know if it was from the cold or the medicine overtaking my body. Handful after handful, I could feel myself fading away. A guy passed me and asked, ‘Are you okay?’ I simply replied with a nod, lying and shaking my head that I was fine, but I was so far from it. My heart began to race as I sat there waiting to die. Hours later, the cops had been called on me and I was rushed to the hospital.

I remember the familiar sound of the sirens blaring as they raced against time. None of this was new to me. I had attempted to end my life over a dozen times at this point. So tired and weary from fighting, I prayed and I prayed I would die in that ambulance. I arrived at the ER and doctors and nurses filled the room. They put IVs in my arms and told me to just hold on. As my numbers got worse and worse and I refused to drink the charcoal they had given me; they decided it was necessary to stick a giant NG tube down my nose. I cried and screamed and tried to fight it as they held me down. 

Courtesy of Courteney Vidal

The nurse yelled to just lay still. ‘I have to do this if I’m going to save your life and I have every intention of doing just that.’ That’s the thing though. I didn’t want to be saved. I continued to fight them, but they won. I still begged to die. After a few days in the ICU, I was medically stable and sent home. I was told nothing could be done for me. I felt completely helpless. Once again, I felt given up on by my medical professionals. I had no hope and wished I would be dead.

Courtesy of Courteney Vidal

After a couple of days at home, I attempted to end my life again. I found myself in the ICU for the 6th time in 3 years. This time they did not send me home but to the state institution, a place I swore I would never go back to. Hell on earth. I found myself sitting on the cold floor of a state institution once again. My biggest nightmare became my reality.  

Courtesy of Courteney Vidal

I was completely hopeless and didn’t see how anything could ever get any better. I had been fighting depression since I was 12 after I lost my sister to suicide and it had been 3 years of intensely fighting depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and borderline personality disorder. Three years of being in and out of the hospital after attempts. At this point, I had spent more time in the hospital than at home. I was losing myself to my illness. This was a larger than life battle that consumed me completely. I hated myself with every bone in my body. With each passing day, I felt worse and worse. 

Courtesy of Courteney Vidal

I begged to wake up from the nightmare I was living. I shed many tears and hit rock bottom. Here I was again. Struggling to stay alive. Each breath felt so heavy and daunting. I was so desperate for a way out of the hell I was living. I so clearly remember screaming, ‘I want to die. Please just let me die.’ I thought the pain I felt might kill me. Darkness consumed me completely and I tried to end my life many times while in the state institution. It was during my time there that I was diagnosed with an eating disorder, another battle I was fighting. 

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I starved myself day after day. I remember crying when they made me take a sip of Ensure. I remember sitting at a table with a doctor for two hours as he tried to convince me that eating a salad was not going to kill me. Getting diagnosed with another mental illness made me feel like I could never overcome the battle I was facing. I was convinced I wouldn’t make it out of there alive. I believed I had tried everything and nothing and no one could help me. I had tried electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), ketamine transfusions, and transcranial magnetic therapy (TMS). None of the treatments worked and this left me drained. 

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All the light had once again faded from my eyes. I was so tired of fighting. I was tired of hearing people tell me to keep fighting and that things would get better. I thought maybe they could get better for other people, but not for me. I couldn’t understand why all this was happening to me. I went from being the epitome of positivity. From being happy and carefree to all the life being taken out of me. I couldn’t survive like that much longer. My psychiatrist refused to let me leave because she argued that I was just too sick and I would take my own life if I left. After two long and daunting months, I went to court to fight to get out. I won and was able to leave. 

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I flew to be with my mom and as she picked me up from the airport, she questioned if I would be alive much longer. I had plans to end my life, but I didn’t. I continued to fight. I was far from okay but thankful to be out of that awful place. It wasn’t easy, and in April I found myself back in the state institution. Fortunately, I only spent one week there at that time. 

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In May, everything became impossible once again and I ended up in the hospital from an attempt. I was sent home once I was medically stable and took it as a death sentence. Each second felt impossible until one day I decided if I couldn’t die, then I was going to try to live. I took all the fight I had left in me and fought like hell. It was still hard but with each day it got easier. Slowly, each minute didn’t feel so debilitating. 

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It’s been a fight, but one worth fighting. Things didn’t get better overnight and things still aren’t perfect, but I’m amazed at how far I’ve come from where I was. I went from being completely consumed by suicidal thoughts to being able to see a future. With the help of God and the people around me, I’ve been able to figure out how to live again. 

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It’s been over a month now since my last attempt and I can truthfully say things do get better. I’m in recovery now and in a much better place. It’s not easy and maybe it never will be, but it’s worth it. The sun will shine again for you. I feel joy in my soul again and smile when I never thought I’d feel happiness again. The light in my eyes is back and I feel a peace I never knew I could. 

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It’s been hard work. I have therapy twice a week and see a psychiatrist. I’ve reconnected with old friends and have made new friends. I don’t feel so alone anymore. I got a job which was a huge accomplishment for me. I have hope again. Darkness no longer completely consumes me. I can laugh again. Recovery isn’t linear and it’s messy. It’s complicated. There are still some really hard days, but I know I can get through them. I know it will be okay. I know I’m stronger than my hardest days. I’m proof things can and will get better. 

Courtesy of Courteney Vidal

A month ago, I was on the brink of death and now I’m truly living. It’s not easy and doesn’t happen overnight, but one day you’ll see light again. One day you’ll have hope again, I promise. I know you may be tired and weary but please don’t give up. Your story is far from over. Things will get better. It’s not easy but it is worth the fight. I can truthfully say I am so glad to still be here. I can see the beauty in life again. I don’t feel completely consumed by pain anymore. I’m here to tell you your pain won’t always consume you. 

Courtesy of Courteney Vidal

I beg you to please stay. You are needed here. If I can find joy again when I thought I never would, then I know you can too. I just wanted to share to show things can get better. You deserve to be here. Stay for all the beautiful moments you’ve yet to experience. Please keep fighting. Please keep going. I believe in you.”

[If you’re thinking about hurting yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help is out there. You are not alone.]

Courtesy of Courteney Vidal

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Courteney Vidal. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more about Courteney’s backstory here:

‘When I was 12 years old, my older sister died by suicide. She was my whole world. This year alone I’ve had over 20 suicide attempts.’

‘I begged for you to stay the night, but you said you had to go. I gave you a big hug, not knowing it would be the last. You told me you would see me soon. I believed you.’

‘I woke up expecting it to be my last day on earth. I bought a bottle of pills and razors. Then I bought a rope. I had 3 different plans and figured one of them had to work.’

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