* AFSP Out Of The Darkness Walk KC 2015 - Talk

A few folks asked for what I said to the masses at the Out of the Darkness walk in Kansas City on Saturday, October 3, 2015. I was going to wait since I had another speaking engagement coming up, but realized I needed to use a different approach for that group. So, I share with you who I am (slightly more extended here), my struggle, and the hope that can come from it. Maybe it will allow someone else to feel like they are not alone in their struggle.

** NOTE: I do not talk of my method in this talk. This is about staying uplifted. However, I do speak  more freely about my attempt & why I haven't yet tried again, HERE.


Hi, everyone! My name is Erica Williams & I’m very moved to be with you all today.

I want to share some things about myself (a bit of a laundry list) & why I walk today:
I'm a wife, a mother, a woman, a sister, a daughter, a cousin, a niece, a granddaughter...

I'm a dancer, the wife of a pastor, a celebrateur of all of the things, a bit of a foodie, a costumer, a lover of fashion.

I'm an idealist, a thinker, an opinion-giver, a listener, a friend, and trying to be a better philanthropist.

I'm a dreamer, a procrastinator, a semi-perfectionist, a slob, a choreographer, an actor, a performer, a director, a writer, a blogger, a semi-painter, baker, amateur photographer, decorator, poet, geeky-girl, bargain shopper.

I'm a lover of autumn, a lover of rain.

I'm emotional, funny, goofy, I will sing if you make me think of a song, I'm a speaker, a semi-singer, an optimistic-realist, and try to be a voice of reason, a semi-adventurist, and (what I consider) a homefaker.

I’m creative-not-crafty.
I'm an encourager.
I'm sarcastic.
I'm a shenanigator.
I’m a weirdo.

I'm strong-willed & can be stubborn. 
I can also be wishy-washy.

I'm loud. I am quiet.

I'm a lover AND a fighter.

I'm blessed, I've been through tragedy.

I enjoy chocolate, coffee & some occasional antioxidant-fortified Jesus water.

I’m complex.

I’m a storyteller

I'm a tutu-wearing runner.

I'm a sinner; I'm a saint.

I'm a Christian.

I'm also a failure.

I went through a rough time in junior high & high school. I was a horrible teenager. (I know, I know - but weren’t we all?) I had a lot of dark things going on that even I didn't realize at the time. Dates & years of stuff that happened to me are gone from my head, but I remember the events happening. One of those times was my suicide attempt when I was about 16 or 17 years old.
I failed…luckily.

See, there’s still days I feel bad about myself. Like I've done something really wrong. I haven't...but there's the days, the moments, I suddenly feel like the worst person on Earth. I know that feeling is there…I feel it creeping & crawling over and within me. It's uncomfortable while making it's presence known. And it's very real.

I want to make that very clear. These feelings are real & exist. 
And I hate it!

The feeling of loneliness even when you’re around others, the feeling of emptiness; the feeling you want to cry & sob, but can’t; the fog you’re in, the feeling of drowning even while sitting on shore; you can’t keep a thought together to even make sense of where you’re at.

I was diagnosed with depression about 10 years ago. For the first time, I realized it wasn’t in my head & it was treatable. One of my best friends, growing up, recently asked me if I’d ever been depressed. She asked me thinking my answer was no, but when my answer was yes, she looked at me funny & told me I was the happiest depressed person she knew.

No one talked about mental health when I was fighting my suicidal thoughts. No one knew what was going on with me; I didn’t know what was going on with me. And it took me a very long time to link the fact that I was probably suffering from depression for much longer than I’d realized, the thing that probably was most prevalent which drove me to believe I should take my life.

So, I'm putting it out there, today.

I do this from time-to-time. I keep my struggle in the forefront now. Why do I do this? 
Why do I talk so freely about it?

Here’s how it goes:
When I talk about it, it keeps me in check. I never knew I could talk about it before. I felt ashamed by it. I didn’t tell anyone about my attempt after I survived because I didn’t know why I was still alive. So I didn’t open up about it until about 3 years ago.

When I talk, it’s not for sympathy, it’s not for attention, but instead to keep letting people know this struggle is very real. The hurt, the pain, the emptiness…

When it appears there’s no hope to get out of the darkness, the thoughts float to the last resort because of a skewed reality leads you to believe you are hindering everyone & everything around you: so, suicide becomes your only option.

I want to make this VERY, VERY, VERY CLEAR: I do NOT want to die!!

Looking where I'm at now, I realize there were things ahead of me that I had to accomplish. Like finding my husband & having my children. They never would have come about if I'd succeeded in my suicide. My hubby may never have answered God's call to ministry if I had not been there to help him answer it. And there are many wonderful people I would never have gotten to meet or know. It's amazing having each of these people in my life, now, no matter how they found their way into my madness.

I am so blessed to have a good support system - people in my life who know when I’m so down that I feel I don’t have any place in this life. They remind me that I do.

As I stated earlier, I’m a tutu-runner. Not as much as I had been, but it helps. I get to run thru the tears, I feel better when I get some of it out, and I feel better in the long run. And running can help clear the mind. I also get to wear a tutu. My tutus are generally for race days & events. Tutus make me happy, and make others happy even just seeing them. Plus, in my mind, tutus contain super powers, in case you didn’t know.

I blog & write. I put my feelings out there. If I don’t, I would probably explode. I have written poetry about it, even. Something I can go back to so I can compare where I’m at in any given moment of time: if my poetry is making sense, I know I’m in a bad place & on a downward slope. When my poems seem like horrible rubbish, I know I’m in a pretty good place at that point.

I used to take medication. Trust me, I NEEDED the meds when I took them. I am at a point in my struggle when I don’t need it at this point in time. But I have made a promise to some that I will get back on medication if I am in my abyss for far too long.

I create things. Though I’m not crafty (because I’m craft-challenged), I end up creating ideas, dreams, goals, characters, costumes, recipes, I even research things. When I do this, I can put my all into it, and I then I can take a look at it later & know it contains so much of my heart.

Laughter! Laughing is good for the soul. I love to laugh. Laughter is healing. Whether it’s in memories, in a favorite funny show or movie, a game night with my family (go ahead - just try to play a game of Apples to Apples without nearly falling out of your chair laughing until you cry). It’s uplifting when you can laugh. Do it! Often!

Talk! Talking will keep you in check, as well as keeping things very real. Know it’s OK to talk it through.

I pray. I pray a lot. I pray for God’s strength to get through another day. God doesn’t want me, or any of us, to struggle, but is allowing me to use my struggle to reach out to others who struggle like I do. I am called to reach out to let others know they are not alone in their continued struggle & that there really is hope in the miracle of tomorrow.

So, I still struggle, I still have occasional thoughts of suicide, I hurt, I cry, I feel lost & empty, yet I’m still that failure…luckily.

Even if you struggle with loss of your loved one, and it seems hard to hold on - it’s always OK to feel all the feels, and to grieve, and to hurt, but also make sure to have your support system & lift each other up; laugh, love, create, dream, talk, be active, pray; do it in your loved one’s honor, in their memory, do it for you, and always keep looking to the Next Tomorrow. Watching the sunrise of tomorrow is a beautiful thing to look forward to. It’s a miracle, it’s a work of art, just like each of us standing here today.

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