We’re in it Together
A Poem for World Suicide Prevention Day
By Mary Beth Spang
It took me a while to understand
That I can hold my own hand
And show that I’ll withstand
The tumult of life
In laughter and in strife.
I share this poem to demonstrate an aspect of resilience that is particularly challenging for me to practice: being alone. I was struggling with my often-present fears of abandonment in a recent therapy session, and my therapist pointed out to me that “you can never leave yourself.” I’ve been reflecting on this idea lately and using it as motivation to tolerate spending time by myself. As I spend more time alone, I’m noticing that I am strengthening my self esteem and sense of independence. Some activities that I’ve enjoyed doing by myself include running, stretching, listening to guided meditations, writing, reading, and coloring.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day that provides an opportunity to raise awareness of suicide and suicide prevention.
Every year I recognize this day because I am determined to alleviate the stigma surrounding suicide in an effort to help those of us who struggle with suicidal thoughts. When we are able to talk about our suicidal thoughts, we are more likely to get help, and we are therefore less likely to engage in suicidal behavior.
A few years ago, I got my second tattoo (pictured above) which is part of a vow that I made to myself, “in laughter and in strife, I vow to choose life.” The vow means that no matter how badly I feel, or how depressed I get — that I will not choose suicide as an outlet. I will persist through life regardless of how much pain I may be in, because I know that to appreciate the laughter in life means also to grapple with the strife.
By including those words in my poem, I cherish, remember, and honor this vow to observe World Suicide Prevention Day.
Altogether, the poem reminds me of the vow I made to myself and expresses that although I may continue to struggle, I am also continually capable of cultivating independence and resilience.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, these free and confidential resources are available to support:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line: Text HELLO to 741-741
YouthLine: Text teen2teen to 839863 or call 1-877-968-8491
The Trevor Project: Text START to 678678 or call 1-866-488-7386
Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860
Mary Beth Spang is a therapist in Pittsburgh, PA. She works with youth ages 18-25 living with mental illness, helping them to transition into a more independent lifestyle equipped with coping skills for managing their mental health. Diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder herself, she also writes about her personal experience living with and managing mental illness. Her writing has appeared in The Mighty, Disability Disclosed, and Germ Magazine.
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