3 years ago when I went bungee jumping, a lot of you approached and praised me about my courage. I answered in a blog post that I was just taking my bucket list really seriously, and I basically forced myself to fight my fear. The truth is, what really prompted me to take my bucket list so seriously was a mental breakdown. And today, on World Mental Health Day, I want to share a little bit more about it.
July 2014 was the first time I acknowledged that something was wrong with my mental health. I had to acknowledge it because I almost attempted suicide. I starved myself, isolated myself from friends, wanted to drown myself in the bathtub, and fantasized about jumping off my apartment. I couldn’t handle the voice in my head that told me how unworthy I was and wanted an escape.
I eventually managed to get myself up to see a mental health professional, who then helped me a lot in dealing with my problems, including writing a letter to my university to defer my exam, and forcing me to open up to friends to cope and heal. When I felt better, I decided to ask my friends to go bungee jumping with me. The reasons were plain and simple: I realized how close I was to death if I were to really attempt suicide, and I wanted to live life to the max with no regrets. Also, since jumping off a building was my suicide fantasy, why not actually make it happen to experience it, but in a safe manner?
I couldn’t have worded that feeling better than what Terri Cheney wrote in her memoir, “Manic.”
“It’s a little-known secret, and it should probably stay that way: attempting suicide usually jump-starts your brain chemistry. There must be something about taking all those pills that either floods the brain sufficiently or depletes it so completely that balance is restored. Whatever the mechanism, the result is that you emerge on the other side of the attempt with an awareness of what it means to be alive. Simple acts seem miraculous: you can stand transfixed for hours just watching the wind ruffle the tiny hairs along the top of your arm. And always, with every sensation, is the knowledge that you must have survived for a reason. You just can’t doubt it anymore. You must have a purpose, or you would have died. You have the rest of your life to discover what that purpose is. And you can’t wait to start looking.”
– Terri Cheney, Manic
The leap I took that day felt more therapeutic than cathartic. My heart was pumping with joy that I managed to fight my inner demons and prove my strength to myself. In that moment when I was swinging over the fierce rush of Cheakamus River, I felt infinite.
It’s kinda weird sharing about this 3 years later, but I thought it will be helpful in creating the awareness that mental illness can inflict anybody, even bubbly and energetic people like me. This was just the beginning of my PTSD and MDD journey. The days that came after had been a roller coaster ride, with even more negative thoughts and an actual attempt. But we’ll save that for the future when I’m ready to share more alright?
Stay strong and just keep breathing fam, you’re not alone. xx Wendy