There is one topic, and one topic only in this world that fills me to the brim with emotion while simultaneously robbing me of the words I could use as a release. Suicide. It takes me almost ten minutes to even continue after typing that word. But why? Suicide is one of those things that you just don’t talk about. Don’t want to upset people, don’t want to upset yourself… and yet, so many of our lives have been touched by it, will be touched by it… could be ended by it. It kills me inside. I want to open a dialogue. I understand no one enjoys talking about this, suicide isn’t pretty, it isn’t inspiring, it just isn’t good. But it is avoidable.
Lately it feels as if my world has been pushing me to write this post. I saw Milk earlier this week (fantastic movie) and during the suicide scene I bawled – thank god my boyfriend was there with me to help me collect myself or else I may not have made it to the end of the film. Since that night suicide has been on my mind and in my writing. Personally, I lost an aunt to suicide or, more specifically, the possibility of an aunt since she took her life before we even had the chance to meet. I feel like my whole life has been spent in the shadow of that event, always left to wonder what would have been if she had managed to find a way to cope. If I had one wish, one dream come true, I would wish for a world where no one reached that place, where no one felt that ending their own life was the best or only course of action they could take. That dream is possible; with communication and love, the hate that brings people to that dark and lonely place can be rendered useless I really do believe this.
No good comes from not talking about things, no good comes from bottling your thoughts and feelings up. If we could just talk about it – what pushes someone to that place, what makes us feel as if we could stand in their place… if we just talked maybe things would get fixed.
Society makes depression or any type of mental issue into a stigma, something to be ashamed of and swept under the rug. I spent years telling people I had “doctors appointments” or “dentists appointments”…. anything so that I didn’t have to admit I was going to therapy. But why? Therapy is a beautiful thing, it can transform lives. People who go to therapy learn how to deal with stress and sadness, they learn how to build stronger relationships, they grow to better understand themselves. What’s to be ashamed of in that? Personally, I believe yearly mental health “exams” should be encouraged, like physicals, just to check up on one’s emotional health (and I don’t say this just because I want to be a counselor myself!) While we’re on the topic, you know what else is great? Crying. No reason to be ashamed of that, a good cry can be just the release that anyone female OR male could use to push some sadness out.
Its frustrating that is issue, possibly the closest on to my heart, is the one that I can hardly think of a way to help. Volunteering at hot lines and working as a therapist are methods of course, but I just feel like its not enough. Really I feel like society doesn’t have enough of a safety net in place for people who experience emotional fallout. But, as I have said so many times on this blog, we cannot hope to change society; we can only hope to change ourselves.
How many times do we pass our acquaintances, even friends, and ask how they are without even stopping to find out the answer? I know I have at least five exchanges a day that go exactly like this…
Me: *spots friend in hallway* Hey!
Me: How are you?
Friend: I’m… *and I’m gone before I can hear the rest*
Does this sound familiar? We all do it. We all need to stop. And I mean it literally, stop and listen to someone’s response. And furthermore, when someone asks us how we are I think we should be honest. None of this “fine” bullshit… it seems like my friends are always “fine” or “good” but that can’t be true 100% of the time – some of them are lying. I understand its a social norm to say something like good or fine, we wouldn’t want to make a casual social interaction like this too heavy or too awkward after all, now would we? I think we should. I mean, why not? Just imagine what it would be like if everyone in this world was just honest with their friends about how they were feeling, if everyone sought out comfort and friendship when they were sad; I bet we’d have a lot less people feel the desperation it takes to push them out of this world.
So I would like to challenge everyone reading this to just take a small step: open your eyes to the people around you, ask how people are and wait to hear the answer every time (if you have to turn around and walk in their direction for a moment to get the answer, do it) and if someone asks you how you are, tell the truth.
It may feel weird at first but once you’ve confided in a friend, or made it a point to hear how they are you will have made a connection – opened up a lifeline that both of you will feel more comfortable using in times of pain and sadness, as well as times of joy.
I promise you won’t regret it!