What Being A Suicide Survivor Has Taught Me

Suicide. That word is not easy to write and this post isn’t an easy one to share. Perhaps this blog that’s dedicated to fitness and food isn’t really the right platform to share it on but this is my blog, after all, and this is my story. 
My story has been mine for the last 16 years.  One that has shaped each year of my life since, made me who I am today and taught me some incredibly hard life lessons.  Lessons that I am finally ready to share today in hopes that they might just save a life. 
What Being A Suicide Survivor Has Taught Me
February 16, 2000.  A date that changed my life forever.  A date that has become a time marker of my life, the before and after of who I was and who I am now. 
I was only 14 years old at the time.  Naive, self absorbed, untouchable.  Blissfully unaware that life could come crashing to a halt at any second.  As I returned home from a ski club trip, I walked in the door to find my parents waiting there for me.  
“We have to tell you something”  they stated it in such a way that it was obvious something was wrong. 
“What?” I asked in a barley audible whisper, not really wanting to hear what they had to say. 
“Your best friend died.” 
Not just my best friend, my soul mate.
A 15 year old whose life was full of light.  Incredibly intelligent, witty, comedic, chiviarious and stubborn to a fault.  Popular among his friends and well liked by everyone. An athlete that excelled not only in sports but also in school.  
But there was also a different part of him, a philosopher of sorts who spent hours overthinking and translating his feelings into poetry.  He was a young man riddled by fear of failure, of disappointing others and in a time of despair it was what lead to his undoing. 
My parents went on to tell me that he had taken his own life that night. He had called to say goodbye but I had missed it.  I had not only missed his phone call but all his cries for help that came before.  I felt like I had failed him. That I wasn’t there for him when he needed me. 
The hours that followed are a blur.  In shock and unwilling to accept the news I sank to the floor and just stared at a magnet on my refrigerator. I don’t know how long I sat there but I am certain I stared at it for hours.  
The days that followed I learned more details about his death. How he had gone about giving some personal items away at school that day. Carefully written an eight page suicide note leaving things to his friends and family.  A stereo to a friend, his beloved dog to his sister and for me, his heart and soul.  He made me promise not to cry and to stay strong. 
I also learned that in the moments before he ended his life he had pinned a picture of me on his shirt over his chest. A fact that I only recalled much later. A fact that was much too painful to process in my formative years. 
I spent the months that followed mourning my loss. Countless times I picked up the phone to call him to talk about it only to realize that he would never answer again.  I spent more time developing new coping skills with my guidance counselor than I did in class. Taking trips out to the track just so I could scream at the top of my lungs letting the hurt, the anger, the sadness escape me momentarily. I was bullied by classmates who couldn’t understand my lingering pain. I was forced to fake a smile just to fit in.  It was exhausting.  It was weight on my shoulders that I wasn’t equipped to carry. 
In the years that followed depression set in. The move to college which I had hoped would be a reprieve from the hells of high school only made it worse. I didn’t deal well with the transition. The little bit of stability I had, crumbled. By the middle of the first semester I found myself laying in a hospital bed. The taste of charcoal in my mouth. 
That moment was incredibly sobering and another big turning point in my life.
As I stared in the faces of my parents and my sister, tears running down their cheeks, I recognized their pain and vowed to find the strength to fight.  For them and for my life that I had almost wasted.  
Change did not come easy.  It took what seemed like forever to develop the skills I needed to handle the bad days when they happened but I did it. I fought my way out of the dark cloak of depression.
Today, the good days mostly outweigh the bad but surviving suicide isn’t a one time victory, it is an ongoing battle.  A battle that has taught what it means to fight and how to be a fighter. 
It has taught me that in the moments when I’m running and don’t think I can take another step, I can. 
It has taught me that giving up is not an option.  When I want something bad enough, there is a way to make it happen no matter how many times I fail.
It has taught me not to let the bad days win but to allow myself to have them because better days are coming. 
More importantly, it has taught me that depression doesn’t discriminate. It’s a disease that doesn’t care about circumstance; having it all does not always mean happiness.
It has taught me not to judge and that depression doesn’t always display itself through sadness and tears, it can also come in forms of anger and self destruction. 
As someone who has both suffered and survived I know that one moment can change everything. A touch, a smile, a few simple words and knowing you are not alone can make all the difference. 
So despite feeling vulnerable and exposed I am sharing my story because the stigma that surrounds suicide and depression needs to be broken.  Asking for help shouldn’t cause feelings of shame or embarrassment.  Support does exist and should never be out of reach. 
For that reason I have agreed to fundraise for SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) of CNY  for a local charity event called the “Adult Prom”. SAVE provides prevention education and access to much needed resources including support for survivors. 
The goal being whoever raises the most is crowned homecoming queen/king. Now that you know my story, you might understand that I don’t care about being awarded a title but I do care about raising awareness. 
If you happened to read my post out of curiosity or support and would like to donate, please considering doing so by donating through my fundraising link
If you happened to stumble upon my post looking for support, please know help is available. If you or someone you know is suicidal or having thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for taking the time to read <3 

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  • March 20, 2016
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About me

Annmarie is a self proclaimed foodie, avid long distance runner and functional fitness coach. A DVRT Master Trainer, HKC Instructor and food allergy sufferer, she writes about strength training for runners as well as shares allergy friendly recipes for busy athletes.   She is also the owner of Strength In Motion Studio, mother of two sassy sisters and wife to a chronically busy chiropractor.   Subscribe by email for updates to get the latest workouts, advice and recipes straight to your inbox!