Out of the whirlpool, with Sue Martin – Integrally Alive Podcast

If I told you I know a woman who almost killed herself intentionally and thirty years later is one of the funniest and joyful person I know… Would you believe me?

This episode might be one of the most “serious” of this season, by the subject. It is also one of those we laughed the most. And i couldn’t be happier about that; because only when it will become easier to talk about these “serious” and tough topics, will it also become easier to tackle these issues.

So get ready for an incredible story, with an incredible woman!

I didn’t think I could ask for help. I know today that if I would have asked for it, I would have gotten it. But at the time, I felt I was unique. […] So stay alive, even if it’s minute to minute, hour to hour, stay alive, and seek the resources that can give you the resilience and the strength to move forward.”

Sue Martin

On depression, suicide, blindness, joy and laughter, mountains, the beauty of life…

In this episode, you will learn about:

  • How Sue came to contemplate suicide. [3:30]
    • “Every bit of joy and accomplishment vanished, as soon as I was on the ground, and I thought I never would be happy again.” Sue Martin
    • I was just going through the motions. I found no joy in life, I found no happiness, no purpose.
  • Suicide is NOT wanting to die… It is about wanting to end the pain. [9:29]
    • “And I finally arrived at a place where the only thing I could think of to end the pain was ending my life.” Sue Martin
    • I didn’t think I could ask for help. I know today that if I would have ask for it, I would have gotten it. But at the time, I felt I was unique. […] So stay alive, even if it’s minute to minute, hour to hour, stay alive, and seek the resources that can give you the resilience and the strength to move forward.” Sue Martin
    • The “positivity” trap (No struggles on Facebook and Instagram).
    • In a sense, depression and suicidal tendencies are invisible disability, so we have to get out of our way to admit it is happening.
  • Life after suicide: What could have been the drop too much, was actually the way out! [20:19]
    • “Down inside there was a spark, that said: “Look, you have two choices here: You can either give up, or learn what you have to learn, and see where life takes you.” And that’s the route I chose: To learn what I needed to learn, to live independently… And where it’s taken me is pretty darn great!” Sue Martin
    • “It was the feeling of competence that led to a feeling of confidence, and it started a cycle.” Sue Martin
    • “It was not easy, it was a long process, but every day that I added a skill was a victory. And I learned to savor those victories.” Sue martin
    • “It wasn’t just the challenge, it was accepting and embracing the challenge of learning a new way of living that made all the difference.” Sue Martin
  • A long road to go… Finding support is crucial! [27:31]
    • “There were times were I found myself not considering suicide, but knowing that I was in trouble again […] But I have always ensured that I had people I could go to to say out loud How I’m feeling, what I’m thinking.” Sue Martin
    • “It is not only OK to say “I’m not in a good place”, it’s good to say out loud to another person: “I think I need some help.” Sue Martin
    • “Every time I’ve reached out, I’ve gotten the support I needed. It’s almost the greatest gift you can give another person, to listen, and give support.” Sue Martin
  • You don’t need to be a psychologist to help! What is the best way to help a friends having suicidal ideation? [31:26]
    • If somebody had said to me: “Are you suicidal?” I think it would have been a wake-up call. And I would maybe not have been able to say yes right away, but I do think saying that word out loud is not the closing of a door, it is the opening of a door. It’s permission [ to ask for help].” Sue Martin
    • We need to stop using the phrase “commit suicide”: Suicide is not a crime!
  • The story of Sue’s book: Out of the Whirlpool. [35:55]
    • “My hope and my dream is that if only one person can see how wonderful life can be after so many experiences that can seem terrible; if only one person can see how life is beautiful and stay alive, my mission will have been accomplished.” Sue Martin
  • How do you communicate “life is beautiful” to someone who desperately needs to reconnect with that sense… But is not ready no hear that yet. [48:08]
    • “I kept putting one foot in front of the other, even if at times, every step felt like a struggle. […] But now I climb mountains.” Sue Martin
  • The big story is not my suicide… It is that thirty year ago I didn’t think life was worth living, and today I can’t wait to get out of bed and see what I can get into.” Sue Martin [54:24]
    • We are not defined by our story: What happened to you might have led you where you are today, but it is not who you are.
    • There is always hope. But in order for it to be hope, there has to be life.” Sue Martin
  • Don’t forget where you come from. [56:44]
  • What makes you feel alive? [57:55]
    • Everything! It is just such a joy to be on this earth and sharing it with people that I love.” Sue Martin

Who is Sue Martin

Her motto is “Ecce quam bonus”, loosely translated as “See that which is good”. Sue Martin’s life has taken her through some major life changes, some of which seem to contain nothing whatsoever that is good. Her notion to see that which is good has been put to the test, over and over again.

Attempting suicide, and waking up blind, was certainly one. In the early days of her life with blindness everything was a struggle. Support from her friends, family, community, and two amazing teachers showed Martin she could live again. Following almost a year of vision rehabilitation services, Martin became a master in vision rehabilitation and went on to serve others for over twenty years.

After years of an extraordinary recovery and reconciliation with the past, she shared the simple truth of her journey in her book: “Out of the Whirlpool”, soon followed by “In dog we trust”.

Today she serves the Department of Veterans Affairs in the Office of Information and Technology.
And she continues to speak out, so that her dream of a world without suicide come true. She is on a mission to de-stigmatize depression and suicidal thinking. “Only when it’s okay to talk about depression will it also be okay to ask for help.” She says.

She is working Quan, her fifth dog from The Seeing Eye, and loves nothing more than summiting one of the mountains in Acadia National Park with Quan and her husband Jim.

Where can you find Sue Martin

Sue’s books

Resources cited in the conversation

Suicide hotlines internationally

If there is ONE thing to remember from this episode, it is: You are not alone! So if you are struggling with suicide, or someone you know is, it is OK to ask for help!

On this website, you will find contacts for hotline, for almost every country on the planet.

Joyful Power letters