Tonight was supposed to be an excited post outlining my adventures last fall on my first trip to England for Level 1&2 training. Today took a different tack so that post will have to wait. I promised to share the good, bad, and ugly of the journey I’m on so let’s make good on that.
My hope in participating in the Clipper Race and other sailing adventures is to encourage others to be brave and take risks. The fact of the matter is that risk tasking involves inevitable failure. It can be minor failure, it can be big failure, but at some point it’s going to happen. Right now I’m feeling pretty discouraged, as I’m not where I hoped to be by now with my individual fundraising and it’s going to be an uphill battle to get there. I know I can do it and I know deep down that somehow it’s all going to work out, but right now I don’t know what that’s going to look like. You see, my HR contract ended at the end of January and I chose to take the leap and go full time with my sewing business. There have been some exciting successes and really great weeks, but also a metric shitload of learning that running a business by yourself is a hell of a lot harder than doing a cute choreographed pitch on Shark Tank.
I say all of this not to be a Debby Downer or to look for pity, but to say that the Sailing Unicorn is not all sunshine and roses and not everything I touch turns to magic. Sometimes I wind up in epic, messy challenges that I need to work a way out of. I am growing and learning all the time and trying to not make the same mistakes twice, but holy crap is this hard to navigate. Sometimes I think I’m an absolute idiot for leaving the corporate job with an enticing stock vesting schedule a few years ago. Other times I realize that while this is not the easy path, it will hopefully result in some epic stories that I will laugh about in the future. I am so incredibly lucky to have the support system that I have, especially on nights like tonight where I got home late, exhausted, and just needed a shoulder to cry on and a beer. Tonight it feels like the goal I have three months to reach is slipping further and further away. Tonight I am discouraged and out of energy to work out Plan D, E, or whatever the F it is at this point. To those who know the Spoon theory, my drawer runneth empty. To those not in the know, I highly recommend you read about it here. Tomorrow I will brew a cup of tea, throw my hair in a bun, regroup and get back to hustling my ass off to make this shit happen.
If you’ve read this quasi-pity party and feel like sending a hug over the internet, go for it. I’ll be ok, but tonight I’m tired and beat down.
This post has been composed, edited, deleted, re-written, and so on and so forth so many times both in my head and on my poor laptop. Rather than continue to let my brain’s insanely high standards keep this story from getting out, I need to just send it out continue on with my journey.
I am a survivor of a suicide attempt.
Those who have encountered me typically see me as a very lively, happy person with a zest for life. It’s hard to imagine the Sailing Unicorn reaching a point where life didn’t seem worth the pain any more, and yet about 5.5 years ago I did indeed reach a point where I wanted to do anything I could to stop hurting. In the September of 2013 my now ex-husband decided that he no longer wanted to be married. When he told me in our therapist’s office after we had been separated for a couple of weeks that he wanted a divorce I felt like the wind had been knocked clean out of me. No, our marriage wasn’t the happiest but I thought we were working on it. That wasn’t the case and he wanted out, and no amount of begging or pleading would keep him (believe me I tried). I got married at 21 (yep, pretty damn young) and had my life planned out ahead of me. Enjoy being young newlyweds, work in our careers, go on some vacations to cool places around the world, then after a few years start thinking about kids and starting a family. It felt like my whole world was crashing down.
I was not ok. I had previously been diagnosed with depression but was not currently taking any medication or seeing a therapist for it. What happened over the next couple of days was a bit of a blur as I didn’t feel like me. I felt like a person lost in someone else’s body, yet the few times I could bear to look myself in the mirror I did see someone who looked similar to me. Somehow I was able to get in to an urgent care clinic and after looking at my medical history they prescribed me an antidepressant… and Xanax. I had never taken this medication before but was up for anything that might make me feel a little better about this whole thing. It was either that night or the very next night that I realized at the time nothing would be able to make me feel better so I just wanted to sleep for a very long time and not be in pain any more. I was alone in the house in Seattle that my ex and I had moved into a few months before. That house never really felt like a home to me, I could never put my finger on why. I was alone in what used to be “our” room and was tired of being too exhausted to do anything of substances but unable to sleep. I either messaged or called my ex and told him that I was taking the whole bottle of Xanax and wished him well. In hindsight I’m not sure why I did that as I was determined that I wanted to just fall asleep and not be in pain, but I’m glad I did. He called my mom who somehow managed to make what was usually the hour drive about 30 minutes. I think at some point SPD was called too. The whole night is an incredible fog. Fortunately they were able to determine that I had not actually taken a lethal dose and would be ok after being allowed to sleep it off under supervision. The next day held a lot of serious conversations and tears both with my mother as well as the close friends she had summoned to come over and help.
I am very lucky. I didn’t at the time think to look up what a lethal dose or combination would be, I just assumed the amount of Xanax I had taken would be enough to send me peacefully of to sleep. I am so damn grateful that I was wrong. The Fall and Winter that followed were some of the hardest months I’ve ever been through in my life, and yet I’m glad I was able to get through them. Almost two months to the day after my attempt I was browsing online and came across a Black Friday special where adoption fees were waived for animals with black coloring that PAWS, a local animal shelter north of us was hosting. I had always wanted a dog, and it was time. There will be a longer post dedicated to him at a later date, but that Black Friday special became Murphy, a sweet lab/dane with the cutest little tinge of gray on his muzzle. I owe my life to the dog who is currently snoring right next to me as having him meant I had to be home at least twice a day to care for him and could therefore not go off on weekend-long benders. I may have resolved to not attempt to go to sleep forever again but I still wasn’t making some of the best life choices so he kept me from going completely overboard. I had the support of a few very dear friends, some of whom I am still close with to this day. One who I became closer with through this process took me up to the mountains with Murphy to the snow on New Years Day of 2014 and we did a Trash the Dress shoot so that I could reclaim the experience of wearing my now-former wedding dress. I also had a party at Golden Gardens when my divorce was finalized where I burned wedding photos and other mementos from the marriage and invited friends to bring what they needed to release in the flames as well.
I continued to get through that winter and the coming spring with the support of my amazing network. My mother also took it upon herself to get me out sailing more and well, we know how that ended up! Sailing has become an incredible force in my life as it has helped me gain courage, strength, and an absolutely amazing supportive community. Through sailing there have been so many “I’m glad I’m alive for this” moments. While sailing is part of my therapy, I have also found a wonderful therapist who has been helping me work through life. My goal as the Sailing Unicorn is to encourage others to keep fighting to stay alive by spreading awareness of depression and resources available to avoid suicide. We never know who may be fighting an invisible internal battle, it’s so crucial to be loving and supportive to those around us. By sailing in the Clipper Round the World yacht race I hope to take the message globally as these are things that impact people all over the world. Thank you for taking the time to read my story. If it has impacted you I welcome continued dialogue. If you need someone to talk to please seek help, it’s never too late.
Stay alive my friends.
If you or someone you love has struggles with suicidal thoughts PLEASE reach out to The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They provide free, confidential guidance and resources for individuals and people who care about them for free over the phone, via text, or online chat. They are staffed 24 hours a day and are connected to centers all over the US to help individuals access care close to home in order to get help. I have spoken to them before and was over whelmed by the compassion and care on the other end of the phone. I recommend saving this number in your phone, you never know when you or someone you love might need it.