A guest post by Lisa Janes
The high-necked shirt sat on a shelf in my closet, neatly folded but no longer worn. At first I saw it every day, as time passed I noticed it only occasionally, but I always knew it was there.
The last time I wore that shirt was to church. It was too warm of a day for the mock turtleneck, but it was the only shirt that I could find that would hide the deep red streaks and the beginnings of bruises on my neck. Before going to church that day, I had tried to kill myself. I could only hope that no one would notice my out-of-season clothing and my bloodshot eyes, or that if they did they would be too polite to say anything.
It was mystifying. As part of my distorted thinking, I had decided that my life was dispensable. But later that morning, when I should have been in the ER being evaluated, I was at church to fulfill a small responsibility, sure that I was indispensable.
Most of that day is a blur. I woke up that morning as my husband was leaving for an early morning meeting. I got up after he left and walked into our family room. It was an impulsive act that had been in the making for a very long time. I moved quickly, no longer thinking, just going through the motions, doing what needed to be done. Miracle, luck, serendipity? I will never know exactly what occurred, all I know is that as I began to lose consciousness and as my vision disappeared, something happened. It was imperceptible. A tiny movement that not only saved my life in that moment but also opened a sacred space into which I daily make a new life.
Hospitalization, residential treatment, therapy, and medication have helped me to make sense of the suicidal thoughts I have dealt with since my early teens. The thoughts haven’t disappeared completely, but now I have the skills to fight back and an amazing team of people who surround and support me. They are no longer the only ones fighting for my life – I am too.
The red streaks and bruises faded, my eyes cleared, and the shirt is now gone. Many reminders of that day live on though: as I laugh at something with my husband, as I spend time with the people that I love, as I celebrate my beautiful daughters, as I sit to meditate. Every new day is a reminder.
I am not a stranger. I am your neighbor. I am your sister. I am the mom of your daughter’s friend. I volunteer with you. I am in the line next to you at the post office. I am sitting next to you at church. I am the one with the tattoo on her wrist that constantly reminds – Choose Life.
Lisa Janes is a wife, mother, volunteer, truth-seeker, tutor, reader, and meditator, who loves all things fiber, especially knitting. She's a die-hard Utah State University fan and alum. She loves to travel and if she and her husband aren't away from home, you will probably find them at a Nats game.
September 7-13th is National Suicide Prevention Week, and September is Suicide Prevention Month. If you're interested in writing for our blog and sharing your story, please check out our Submissions page.