July 12 is my Birthday; this year it’s the first birthday post mental illness diagnosis and my first birthday after I seriously considered ending my life. This is awkward. I don’t feel like celebrating, I don’t feel like I want this to mean anything more than it is but in a lot of way, this birthday is bigger than most. It will always be the one that almost wasn’t, the one that could have gone uncelebrated, and the one that will hold so much anger for so many people.
For me, my actions on January 13 when I considered ending my life (which happens to be my niece’s birthday) are infuriating. My cowardice, selfishness and arrogance are just unbelievable. Going forward and recognizing the hurt that I have cause, my deceit and betrayal of family and friends, the harm that I had cause and the wounds that I have created are horrendous.
But I picked to stay alive; I chose to be here and being here means living with the demons of my past. Some days that choice is harder than others, I’m not saying that I am still suicidal but I recognize now the difference between being alive and living. Being alive to me means that biologically I exist however living, requires effort. I have a choice, to spend the day in bed or to get up and engage with the world. I can choose to be heartbroken about the lost relationships for the rest of my life or I can choose to go out and make new friends. I can choose to coast through life and put myself in a bubble so I never make another mistake or I can choose to take risks, make mistakes, get knocked over and get up again.
On January 13 I don’t know why but I picked life over death, and now in every moment I am trying to ensure I chose life over just being alive. It’s hard, so this birthday I am going to choose to do things that help me move forward and recognize that while this may not be the life I thought I would have, it is reality and reality is much better than the fantasy world I had built for myself.
Thank you to everyone who made sure this birthday happened.