I am a single mom living in West Virginia who was everyone's rock. I helped shoulder the burdens of friends and family without a second thought. Recently, I dated a man who had bipolar disorder. His symptoms worsened, and shortly after, he took his own life. I collapsed in on myself.
When he took his own life, I felt extremely guilty at first, like I should have known he was going to do it. I had talked to him 15 minutes before I got the call from his mom. Every time I went to sleep, I dreamt of that same 15 minutes over and over for weeks. I barely functioned as a person. I was physically present but completely checked out. I knew I was struggling with the loss, but talking to my friends didn't help because they were very apathetic to my struggle. All I could really do was cry.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention was doing an Out of the Darkness Walk, so I went, hoping to make some sense of things. The event coordinators heard my story and partnered me with someone who had been where I was now, and she talked to me the entire walk.
I learned that there is a complex set of emotions around suicide that aren't present for other forms of death. I continue to work on it by talking about it and sharing my experiences with others so they know they aren't alone. I started participating in AFSP to give back, to help others who are now where I was, and then find hope.
I look at life as a dance; sometimes you go forward, other times backward, but the point is you keep moving.