I admit that pick-me-ups like running and pizza are great for my personal "mental wealth," as a good friend puts it, but what really keeps me going is a sense of purpose. And I've definitely picked an unusual one.
I'm one of a growing number of suicide attempt survivors who are "coming out" about the experience in the hope of breaking a long taboo and showing that this can happen to anyone. It's never easy to say the S-word, but the surge in openness about mental health in general is really helping this effort along.
Most anyone who's struggled with a difficult time in life can benefit from the freedom to reach out to others who can support and understand, without discrimination or shame. A lot of us in this new movement believe that talking about suicidal thinking should be no different _ and that removing the burden of silence and embarrassment will in fact keep more people from killing themselves. Frankly, isolation sucks, no matter what the underlying issue might be.
Reaching out to others and helping to build a community has been so helpful, such a source of confidence and strength. We've all done this kind of thing pretty regularly over the years for all kinds of issues, from gay rights to pretty much any health topic you can imagine. Connection is a powerful thing.
Every time I add an outspoken attempt survivor's interview or essay to sites like Attempt Survivors and Talking About Suicide, or I check out the latest attempt survivor portrait at the beautiful Live Through This, I feel we're doing something special and very needed.
And that feeling gives me more of a long-lasting mental health boost than any hobby, entertainment or, amazingly, even chocolate could provide. Though yes, I'll happily take those, too.
Cara Anna is a journalist and blogger who writes about the experiences and elevates the voices of attempt survivors, including herself. She runs the blog, Talking about Suicide, and edits the American Association of Suicidology's Attempt Survivors Blog.