My name is Len Hardy, I am a 37 year old suicide attempt survivor and I have been living with mental illness for over three decades.
From the age of six, I felt a heightened sense of emotion and self-awareness. Being overly sensitive to the world, I somehow started on an emotional roller coaster that would later spiral into a very dark period. Everything impacted my emotions so greatly in those developmental years. I had a hard time accepting and processing how the world could be so dark and cruel, all while being so beautiful and nurturing at the same time. On the surface, things seemed normal, I lived life like most of my peers, engaging in sports, work and social activity with good friends and family on a daily basis. In my mid 20’s, i violently attempted to take my life. After the incident, I was hospitalized and put on multiple psychiatric medications for anxiety and depression. Upon discharge from the crisis unit, I was stable and able to return to a daily, normal life after recharging and getting courage to be out in the world. Everything appeared to be on track, but would spiral out of control a few years down the road and i tried to end my life again. More hospitalization and medication regiments followed and at some point after that attempt, i experimented and made some lifestyle changes and adjustments which complimented the treatment I was receiving at the time, in terms of medication and post-hospital care. Changes to diet, mindset, introduction of meditation and physical activity are among some of the things that helped me towards the path of healing and recovery.
After each suicide attempt, I was surrounded and treated by amazing, mental health care professionals and providers during the hospital visits as an in-patient and an out-patient, in behavioral health facilities. It was not easy to be positive and focus on getting better realizing how much I wanted to check out from life. Somehow, I managed to pull through those dark times and manage my “inner-battles”. With the continued help and counseling I received from support services such as NAMI and having amazing family and friends, the road to recovery was an uplifting experience, looking back at that time.
My journey of living with mental illness has come with many positives and I try to focus on those now. I still struggle with inner-demons, but it has become much more manageable with the changes I’ve made and implement daily. One thing that this journey really highlighted for me, is patience; giving myself a chance to heal and staying curious enough to see if things could get better and discover what I could offer myself and the world. I also trusted the doctors and healthcare providers who worked with me along the way. With that support system and courage, I found strengths I never imagined. Now I focus my energy on staying healthy in my mind and body, striving each day to help others get through their struggles as they step out of their darkness so they may one day find their inner- light and share that beauty with others.