By Amani Omejer
There is not enough space to talk about suicide in our society. Not only are suicidal feelings stigmatised, but suicide attempts and life after an attempt rarely get a voice.
In April 2012, I overdosed. I was living in San Francisco and had started therapy.
I had been very near that point for a long time, but a combination of starting therapy and watching/feeling a lifetime of trauma surface to fly around me, and then having a horrendous phone call with my mum – which tipped me over the edge completely – is what led me to take 40 painkillers in Golden Gate Park that day.
What followed was a seemingly endless maze of chaos, confusion, and despair, but also deep, deep, healing. It’s been a rocky and rugged, lonely and long, road, but one that has left me unable to hide from my shit anymore. During my life before my overdose, I had a world of trauma beneath the surface that I wasn’t dealing with. I didn’t know how. I was scared and didn’t feel able to let myself step back from responsibilities I had had all my life, and collapse. But that is what I needed to do, and what I did after overdosing.
I finally had the breakdown everyone had told me I needed.
For the first couple of years following my attempt, I spent so much time on Google, desperately searching for a map and instructions of where to go and how to live my life post-overdose — how to get through it, how to survive what I was experiencing inside and outside.
I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was totally overwhelmed with what was happening inside of me — my inner world felt all-consuming and was all-consuming for a while. All I could do was head inwards and hold on. It was so incredibly lonely and totally unfamiliar.
The outside world felt terrifying, too. I felt terrifying. For ages after my attempt I noticed how overdosing stripped me of any self-trust, and the last 5 years has been about building that up again.
“The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me too.” ~ Brene Brown
For the 5 years since my overdose, I’ve written and drawn cartoons almost everyday. In my journal, on my blog, for online magazines, and printed projects. I don’t know where I would be without this creative practice, that describes and expresses what spoken words cannot. I also don’t know where I would be without the online community that have continued to read and respond to my work. Finding so many people saying, “me too”, in response to my articles and cartoons is so, so, healing.
Last year I started the project Living With Suicide. I have gathered stories from people who have attempted suicide and/or live with suicidal feelings and thoughts, and put them into a small book. It’s a stunning collection of photographs, poems, written stories, illustrations, and links to other resources. It offers a space for people to know they are not alone, as well as insight into what it is like to go through an attempt or to live with suicidal thoughts.
For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith.
Sip a little more: