It is not the first time I have sat here like this not able to breathe, not able to think a single thought. Words were jumbled in my mind, searching for others to be pieced together to bring me back or to push me further into the night. At thirty seven years old I know what this is, I know these feelings, this is not the first time. It is not the first time I have sat staring at the wall but seeing nothing. It is not the first time that nothing has been clear. That rattling of the pill bottle is not soothing, it is anything but calm and somewhere in my soul I know that. It is the first time that in the stillness I heard the rattling and through the tears, mumbled breathe. Minutes passed or maybe hours as I sat not moving, saying that one word breathe. The bottle eventually fell to the bed where I was sitting, and I began to say “breathe to live.” This became a mantra for a period of time while I tried to bring myself back from wherever I had retreated to. I began to say my children’s names and the name of my girlfriend to bring the reason for living into light. I should call my girlfriend, I should move, I should turn on music or open a book, I should do anything but just sit here staring at the bottle on my bed.

As the tears dried and my breathing slowed, I realized the struggle does not diminish with age. The contemplating, the attempting, the negative and deep thoughts do not just vanish like the stars. For the first time I realized that I was going to need to take this by the minute. I knew I wanted this to be the last time and that I wanted to heal. I still sat into the night alone, thoughts jumbled. asking myself what is next for me, how can I move forward?

The sun rose and so did I like any other morning, like the contemplation of ending my life had never happened. As I moved on through the day I made the choice to be honest with my girlfriend as she asked how I was feeling. Minute by minute I opened up and continued to breathe through tears as I told her over the phone. There was no judgment, no anger, she just asked why didn’t you call? My answer was one that doesn’t always make sense to those who don’t struggle with these feelings, and that was because I couldn’t think to call. She followed that up with okay, what do you need now? That is what you want and long to hear, but to answer that can be difficult. What do we need after we contemplate or attempt to end our life? We need no judgement, we need someone to listen even if we don’t speak, we need time, and caring souls. Or this is what I have found that I need. There have been attempts in my youth after very traumatic events. I was brought back and saved only to be ridiculed and judged. I have fought those demons and stood up alone. I am not alone now no matter how I feel. Minute by minute is how some days are gotten through.

It is not easy being gay even as a grown woman. I was raised in a very conservative household where there was no other option but to marry a man, raise children and be a good wife. I had secret relationships with women and married a man. I drank to forget and escape my reality, I had very low lows, and high highs in my attempt to achieve happiness. After my divorce and in rebuilding life for my children I attempted to lead what I thought was a normal life for them, not realizing my unhappiness and struggles were still there. It was not until I decided to be who I was born to be that I thought life does get better. Dark thoughts pass through me and some days they try to hang on and other days I barely notice them. No two days are ever the same when you are a survivor. Whether you have contemplated or attempted or just struggle, you are a survivor living and breathing each minute.

I am good with who I am and I strive to be better each minute. There are those around who don’t accept and will judge at every chance they get. This is not easy and it has taken me a long time to learn that not everyone is here for your happiness. To be honest I am still learning that not everyone in your story is meant to remain there. Your will to live does not just appear and stay strong. It is work to change thoughts and talk to others, this work is worth it, I promise even when it is hard. I am telling you others need to hear your story, even just a sentence. My story is not done and I have a lot left to say. There are many moving pieces and parts in my journey. Rainy days and dark nights are still hard, but I am meant to be here reminding you to look up.

Life is worth living, find your people, love hard and stay here.

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Story submitted by Justine.

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