I haven’t posted in a couple of months, but it’s World Suicide Prevention Day, and given that half y’all come here to read about me being crazy, that seemed a thing to post about.
The theme this year is reaching out and saving lives, and there are a variety of ways to join in and learn how you can help here. And of course my own post is going to center around mental illness.
I have probably talked about this ad nauseum before, but it bears reminding:
I know what it’s like to hear the voice in your head, that deceptive, clever little voice that sounds like your own and tells you it’ll never get better. That everyone would be better off without you. That you’re a burden and though they’d be sad when you’re gone, they’d also be relieved. That you don’t matter. That you are not worth saving.
I know what it’s like to feel like you’re drowning and to not want to swim for shore let alone be able to see it.
It’s okay if you’re not okay right now. Mental illness is just illness. It’s no different from cancer or a broken bone. You are not a bad person for having thoughts of self-harm. You are not selfish. You haven’t failed. You’re not evil. You’re not weak. Suicide is morally neutral–it is what happens when your pain exceeds your resources for coping with pain (read that link–might save your life).
I have not been okay these past several months. I have been pretty fucking far from okay. I know what it’s like to fall asleep praying you won’t have to wake up again, to see your future as this big black pit you’re never going to escape from, and to feel like the weight of your mental illness is pulling your loved ones down with you.
But I’m still here.
Let me repeat that: after having major depressive episodes several times a year since I was thirteen years old, I am still here, motherfuckers. I am surviving, every day. I matter. I am worth saving.
And so are you.
This year’s theme, as I said, is reaching out and saving lives. I’ve often said that for those of us dealing with episodic mental illness–meaning we have periods of wellness and periods of illness–we have to treat our episodes like a natural disaster to prepare for. You don’t wait until a tornado is tearing your roof off before you put together a survival kit; likewise, if you know your illness presents as episodes, you don’t wait until you’re in a death spiral of despair to prepare yourself. Go to your doctor for help. Put together a list of all the reasons you want to live and keep it somewhere safe to reflect on.
Then talk to your trusted loved ones while you’re well. I know it’s scary and that you have to be prepared for their bad reactions, but teach them now what you’ll need when you’re ill. Give them resources for how to talk to you. Speaking up is how we break down the stigma for everyone. Let them know that their support is important to you. Remembering times when my friends have told me how much value I bring to their lives helps me enormously when things are grim.
And whether you know someone who deals with mental illness/self harm or not, reach out to your friends and family right now. Take just a few moments to tell them how glad you are to have them in your life. They might be struggling right this moment but are unsure of how to ask for help. They might just need to hear, in this moment, this very day, that they contribute to the world and have value.
Just a few minutes of honest appreciation for those you love–just everyday kindness–could save a life.
If it’s bad for you right now, try to remember that no one–not even you–can predict what the ending to your story will be. There are so many things that could be waiting on your path for you…but you have to be here to see it. People have survived, and so can you.
I’ll be lighting a candle at 8pm to support the survivors and the lost, and I hope you do too.