It seems odd to be to talking about my experience with suicide. I have spent the better part of my career as a mental health professional supporting people not to act on their suicidal thoughts. My experience confirms for me that no one is immune from mental health challenges, even those of us who choose to provide assistance.
My introduction to mental illness came from my mother. She was first hospitalized when I was eleven. She was diagnosed with manic-depressive illness, what is now known as bi-polar disorder. Dealing with my mother’s profound mood swings and everything else that came with that was part of our daily routine for a good part of my life.
It was not until after my mother’s death that I began to experience my own challenges. I was hospitalized and diagnosed with Bi-Polar 2 disorder. For quite sometime all I wanted to do was to die. My wife has shared with me that there were times she was not sure if she would find me alive or dead when she came home from work.
What helped? A lot of things. What made the biggest difference for me was the support of my family, friends and my faith community. Having people in my life who did not give up on me when I had given up on myself made a huge difference for me. I also realized that I am my own sail. The support of others was essential, but so was learning that no one else is going to do it for me.