Erin Seitz

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“'No one would know by looking at you how broken you are.'

In the Fall of 2015, my therapist said this to me during one of our first sessions.

I knew something was terribly wrong with me. I had no way of knowing the terrible, beautiful journey I would travel over the next two years.

The following Fall and Winter alternated between crushing spiritual pain and total numbness and detachment. It was a period of rejecting the people closest to me, believing they were really better off without me.

By March of 2016, I felt there were only two options: either the pain was going to kill me, or I was going to make it stop.

On March 29, I was admitted to a psychiatric ward at a local hospital. I had a plan to end the pain.

I knew I couldn’t trust myself not to follow through.

As Spring of 2016 transitioned to Summer, then Fall, and so on, the right medications, the right people, and the grace of God made it possible for me to at least cope with my symptoms in healthier ways.

My hospitalization was not the last time I was suicidal.

Even when I wasn’t actively suicidal, I would pray that God would just take me home...that this life hurts too much.

I started feeling normal emotions again, including empathy.

My experiences have changed me forever. I feel everything so deeply.

Even though life continues to be a struggle, I’m aware of everything I almost lost and everything I’ve been given back. I am committed to paying this forward in any and every way I can.

To people who don’t know me well, I do look 'normal.' That’s one of the reasons it’s so important that I speak out about suicide awareness.

It’s also the reason I’m an adamant proponent of trauma-informed care. Knowing the relationship between my own history of severe, complex childhood trauma and my experience with mental illness, I want people to know that trauma, mental illness, and suicide don’t have a 'look.' They don’t have a type or a socioeconomic status.

As a society, we often choose to be blind because it’s less painful than reality. We assure one another that: 'suicide only happens to other people,' or 'mental illness doesn’t happen in my community.'

Suicide is right next to you.

Mental illness is right in front of you.

It’s time to open our eyes."