“I am a survivor”.

I am a survivor. I have survived many adverse situations in my life. Some of those situations were certainly a result of abuse and mental illness that was not diagnosed until I was in my 40s.

What does the face of a survivor look like? It looks like you, your sister, or your colleagues at work. What you or other people in your life may have in common are the dark isolating feelings of despair, anger and hopelessness, that you feel has no solution but death. Suicidal thoughts consume a person’s hope and desire to be mentally well, and leaves them struggling with their pain for years, months or weeks.

I have experienced stigma for having a mental illness. People who do not know me judge what I say or think. Some people withdraw from friendships with me after I reveal that I have been a patient in psychiatric wards.

I am not alone in my fight to be mentally well. My family knows I have escaped suicide more than once. People who work at the Libbie Young Centre know that I have experienced personal struggles and had to work towards wanting to be well. It took time to learn that suicide should never be an option for myself. They have helped me overcome adversity in my struggles.

Suicide and mental illness do not know borders, nor does it discriminate against certain types of people. If you find yourself face to face with a mental illness and feel suicidal, reach out for help to win your battle with mental illness. You are not alone.