I tried to kill myself almost a year ago to date. I’m not going to say the exact date here because since I got ill I’ve had to share every intimate detail with complete strangers and this is something I want to keep for myself.
Still, this is my first anniversary of being alive. It’s a weird one isn’t it? One celebration card companies haven’t tapped into yet. You can pretty much get a personalised card for your teacher, second cousin and great-auntie’s pet hamster for any occasion but for whatever reason finding a card that says ‘Congratulations for not dying’ is harder to come by.
Because I definitely think it should be celebrated. What else there is to do? I’ve talked to people and asked what they tend to do because this is my first one and I don’t quite know how to deal with it. Some people avoid any reminders, some return to the place where they tried to do it to reflect. Everyone’s different.
I really can’t avoid the place where I tried to take my life because it’s a train station, but I chose to alter my plans after finding out I’d have to travel by train on my anniversary. I realised that having to stand on the same platform I tried to sneak to the other side of the fence a year to the date would’ve been too hard. Luckily the change wasn’t difficult or overtly expensive. I don’t think there is a right way, you just need to do as you see right.
It’s a funny feeling, to be alive on the day you thought you’d be dead. I still remember how surreal it felt to wake up the day after the attempt. There is no way to describe what it’s like to face a day you thought you’d never see.
Whether I like it or not, my experiences have also changed who I am as a person. They are a part of me so I might as well celebrate it.
When I think back to that person who I was on that day, I don’t feel any animosity towards her. She was desperate and in pain. I understand why I made the choices I did.
To be honest, had someone told me I’d be spending several months in hospital and that it would take at least six more months before I’d find an antidepressant that suited me and that it would take several more months before I’d sleep throughout the night, I might not have been strong enough to wait for that long. So I’m glad I didn’t know at the time.
There is so much stigma, anger and shame surrounding the topic of suicide. Whenever I have opened up about my suicide attempt in public it has led to personal attacks, where complete strangers have called me selfish and a horrible human being. This doesn’t deter me however, it just makes having the conversation more important.
After all, I might as well. I’m alive, aren’t I?
Not everyone is as lucky to be here to celebrate their anniversary.
It should be a celebration. An aliversary. There are not enough celebrations in life, and this should definitely be one. What is more positive than being alive when you thought you weren’t going to be? I know it’s not all fun and games, but for one day it could be.
There should be a special cake baked for the occasion, in my case a chocolate cake with whipped cream on top and banana filling. I can’t drink with my medication but there would be coffee, tea and non-alcoholic fizz to toast. There would be decorations, balloons and fairy lights.
I don’t like big parties, so I’d invite only my closest friends who have travelled this journey with me so far. It would be a recognition how far I’ve come and a way to thank them for everything they’ve done. I have many wonderful friends who’ve never met one another so it would be a chance to bring everyone together. There might be cards, maybe gifts.
We could play party games like musical chairs and sing karaoke. An aliversary is about not taking yourself too seriously. One special party game could be coming up with a bucket list of things I should try to do with my second chance in life. I’m not a person who agrees to activities easily, so I’d definitely need help. And peer pressure.
I’m sure I’d cry at some point during the evening. Maybe someone would share something about their personal struggles, and we’d have a cuddle and cry. That would be perfectly fine though, there would be several discreetly placed boxes of tissues in pretty boxes. This is a party where it’s ok to cry. There would also be a quiet room, where you can go if things get a bit much. I’d definitely need it because constant company, no matter how pleasant, can get a bit much.
There would be no pressure to behave in a certain way. You don’t have to stay for long you don’t feel like it. There is no pressure in an aliversary party. We’re just celebrating being alive. The day after might be a bad one, it may be a good one.
But since I’ve had to learn to take each day as it comes, I might be just able to let that go and just enjoy the company of my friends.
This is why I’m going to make a suggestion. If I were to host a special Aliversary celebration chat on Twitter at the end of this month, how many people would take part? You don’t need to have been suicidal, it’s just to celebrate our individual journeys and how far we’ve come. You don’t have enough celebrations to do with mental health even though every single day is a small victory in itself.
Happy aliversary to us all.