So, I have this tattoo:
A lot of people in my life doesn’t know I have it.
Others, including many friends, don’t know what it means.
But today, as we observe World Suicide Prevention Day, I’m going to share a bit of my history that most people don’t even imagine.
You see, I danced with depression most of my life.
When I think of me at 5 now, specially when I’m around 5-year olds these days, I can recognise that I was already struggling back then. For decades depression was my normal and social isolation felt physically as slowly dying. This is something that is triggering for me even today (but I have better coping mechanism!).
At some point in my late teens, I couldn’t imagine living anymore. I just couldn’t. The pain I carried with me made it unimaginable to wake up another day, to function in a world that looked so normal for everyone, yet felt so daunting for me… but I was scared. I felt compelled to stay alive for my mother, my absolute best friend still today, and so I talked to her.
As a mother today, I can’t imagine the sense of panic and despair she most have felt. The realisation that all her efforts couldn’t prevent me from doing something as radical as what I was fixated on doing.
Within a day, I was medicated and in a clinic. I got drugs. I got therapy. I got better.
It took years of even more work until I found my “ok”. Then, my “normal”, then my “good”, later on my “happy” and eventually, through so much work and growth (and still, therapy!) I found bliss and joy. This has been a journey where countless people have carried me and my pain as I traversed the incredibly lonely and scary path inside my mind, meeting demons within and facing my greatest fears time and time again.
This tattoo right here is a reminder of those who lifted me with their words, hugs, tears and prayers.
This tattoo in my left wrist, connected straight to my heart, it’s a keepsake meant to point out that no matter the insurmountable problems or crisis I’m experiencing, or the unbearable pain or distress I feel, there’s a path that requires me alive and standing and, above it all, there’s an infinite energy ready to catch me should I fall, to join me in my battles and bring me back to safety. That there is a point on this which we call life.
When I see it, I witness a monument to staying alive for my mother and the dreams she had for me; for my ancestors to see me fulfilling our mission; for my descendants; for the world. Because, when you’re in that pit, you need to anchor to anyone and anything just to take another breath. No matter who. No matter what.
So, darling, stay alive today. For me, for her, for him. For the world or your parents. For your houseplant or your spouse. Stay alive today because we need you. We collectively need you just like we needed me back then. Stay alive and find an anchor. Stay alive and fight.
It’s time to end the stigma surrounding sadness, depression, mental illnesses, pain. We need to share our battles so we can too find relief.
I hope this helps anyone today, tomorrow and always. I was there and can only wish you a path towards wholeness.