Lighting the Way for Others: Hope and Life Renewed

Lighting the Way for Others: Hope and Life Renewed

by Waylon Griswold

Trigger Warning: Suicide, Self-Harm

Before I share my story, I want to say that I'm lucky to even be here to write this. I’m currently 24 years old and I’m grateful that I will see my 25th birthday.  But less than a year ago, on September 6th of 2021, I felt I had no future. I have struggled with depression and chronic PTSD since my teens. At 17, I spent time in a youth psychiatric hospital because I was self-harming and while I knew something wasn’t right, it was my grandmother, who adopted me as an infant, who called the police when she caught me trying to hurt myself. 

I woke up that day in early September feeling okay at first but around 8am, I became very depressed for no reason I could say exactly. I told my mother (grandmother) that I was going to go for a walk, but I had another plan. There is a 15–20-foot lighthouse by a lake near where I live. It is a truly beautiful place but, on this day, it wasn't so beautiful. 

I didn’t tell anyone how I was feeling because it’s hard to find someone that really understands. Or at least that was what I believed then. I walked to the lighthouse and climbed up the steps. I called 911 and they tried to talk me out of it, but I was tired of my life. I felt as if I was a burden or not good enough for my family. I was in and out of psychiatric hospitals, I felt hopeless, and I believed, in that moment, that suicide would take my problems away. 

I put the phone down on the ground and sat on the edge of the railing. I was scared and shaking but I jumped. Landing on both feet on the cement, I felt no pain. The adrenaline flowing through my body temporarily blocked the pain but not the damage that would follow. It felt like forever for the police to arrive. I had called 911, somewhere deep down hoping that if I survived, I would get the treatment I deserved. And thankfully I did. I guess I did have a small amount of hope.

Physically, I broke my back, shattered my feet, had to have numerous surgeries with screws, rods and plates inserted into my body. I was in a wheelchair for several months. Infections followed and more hospital stays were needed.  But I survived.

Emotionally, after doing what I did, I felt so guilty, and my PTSD worsened. No one should ever have to get a call saying a family member or friend just jumped from a lighthouse. I put my family through a lot and I can’t change what I did, but I can show them that I will get better.

Today I understand how important it is to get help, talk to people and share your story. There really is so much support out there and you will be surprised how many people are willing to listen. I found ADAA because I was looking for a support group or some place to not feel alone in my experience. I am thankful for places like ADAA and Coleman Health Services who are there to help and share.

It has been a long road for me. I'm finally walking again and I'm grateful for every day I have now because suicide should never be an option. If I’m here, I can deal with my struggles. And so can anyone else who is suffering. I just hope that my story can help others.

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