FEATURED IMAGE DESCRIPTION: a surreal image of a woman with long brown hair and a stripped sweater choosing between one of three directions to take. The background is a cloudy sky. The three paths, marked by white arrows, are on a cobblestone road.

TRIGGER WARNING: This article discusses the author’s desire to end her life on three different occasions.

There have been three crossroads in my life where death by suicide felt like the best or only option. There were also countless days where I felt unconvinced that the struggle was worth it and had to resist temptation. Now, despite poor prognosis and quality of life, those moments are few and far between. I am beyond grateful that I survived and often wish for more time. Looking back, I’m in awe of what I accomplished despite adversity. I’m also unnerved by the tragedy that could have been, and shaken by how close I came to that. So in hopes of comforting and reassuring others, I wanted to share the timeline for my most meaningful memories.

The third instance, when I was most desperate to end my life, happened in my mid 30’s while awaiting a neurovascular surgery that was high risk with no guarantee of quality of life. The reason I went through with the surgery was that I didn’t want to abandon my rescue dog by choice. I would have died within days to weeks had I chosen differently, and then I wouldn’t have:

  • Rescued my third senior dog
  • Given a speech/roast at my little brother’s wedding
  • Become an aunt to my little brother’s two kids
  • Watched my cousins grow up
  • Won Funniest Employee (by vote)
  • Won 1st place and 3rd place in 1 km virtual races (I should note that there were only 2 or 3 total participants, respectively, but still!!)
  • Become an instructor at an Ontario University (my dream job)
  • Contributed to the Clinical Research industry across Canada
  • Become a member of the Board of Directors for Toronto’s best brain injury organization
  • Laughed out loud, gained new perspective, and learned life-altering hacks countless times from TikTok
  • Witnessed societal progress by watching Shang-Chi in theatres opening weekend
  • Discovered the secret to happiness and success (which I promise to share soon)

The second time was in my early 30’s. I had no quality of life because of brain injury and the doctors didn’t believe me. I felt worthless, traumatized, and alone. I gave myself permission to die by suicide. But while I was making plans, I asked myself, “Could you figure out a way to make the best of these circumstances?” I didn’t want to, I didn’t know how to, and it wasn’t going to be easy, but I knew that I could. So I accepted my limitations, changed my perspective, took things one step at a time, and found ways to live meaningfully. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have:

  • Saved the life of 2 stray dogs, fostered 2 dogs, and rescued my second senior dog (my soul dog)
  • Walked my best friend down the aisle and been the Best Woman for his wedding
  • Married my husband and become an aunt to his nephew and niece
  • Had the best sex of my life (several times)
  • Won a Garlic Breath Competition at the Toronto Garlic Festival
  • Traveled to new favourite cities and countries
  • Swam with sea turtles in the ocean
  • Appeared on the Travel Channel
  • Experienced the best massages of my life
  • Purchased my first home
  • Met my new best friends
  • Worked a job that changed the medical landscape across Canada
  • Written a self-help column
  • Witnessed societal progress by watching Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians in theatres opening weekends
  • Started therapy and have it completely change my life

As an undergraduate university student, I came very close to acting on plans to commit suicide. It didn’t happen, because a friend of mine serendipitously started messaging me on ICQ. I hopped on the first bus out of town and stayed with him for a few days. Just knowing that I had a safe place to escape to made all the difference for me. If I had died in my 20’s, I wouldn’t have:

  • Fallen in love
  • Rescued my first senior dog
  • Earned an undergraduate degree, a Master’s degree and a professional certification
  • Worked in non-profit cancer research and published several peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts
  • Visited different cities and countries
  • Discovered many favourite foods
  • Created a food blog and a social media brand that earned me tons of free food and drinks
  • Had one of my food photos featured in a magazine
  • Gotten my first car and smart phone
  • Attended and thrown awesome parties
  • Created memorable Halloween costumes
  • Watched countless addictive TV shows and movies
  • Laughed out loud at countless jokes, memes, videos, and stand-up comedy shows
  • Experienced all sorts of random, fun, and interesting things
  • Been moved to tears by kindness from strangers
  • Helped countless people through volunteering and other meaningful interactions
  • Helped one friend through cancer, another through postpartum depression, and another through the death of their partner
  • Built unshakable confidence and self acceptance
  • Accomplished several life-long goals

Things I’m looking forward to experiencing include:

  • Writing and publishing a book
  • Finishing renovating my home
  • Owning an AI humanoid robot
  • Witnessing societal progress for Indigenous peoples, women, racialized persons and the LGBTQIAPK2S+ community
  • Surviving a global pandemic
  • Eating all the foods

If you are in crisis and need to talk, Crisis Lines in Toronto are listed below. You can find more services in the GTA, HERE.

Distress Centre: 416-408-4357 (HELP)

Gerstein:  416 929-5200

BIST does not offer crisis services. We operate a Warm Line to provide information, referrals and the opportunity to talk, Monday – Thursday, 12 – 4 PM: 416-830-1485. We also offer Support Groups, and WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) Groups for people living with brain injury. Find out about our upcoming programs, HERE.

If you need more information on free community resources, please call 211.