Hi everyone, I’m sorry for my absence. Things have been going well at the same time as I feel overwhelmed and sometimes fairly empty. My head is becoming even more full (how is this even possible?) and sometimes it just shuts off, possibly to prevent a nervous breakdown. I wish I were kidding but I often feel on a razor’s edge; or perhaps a tightrope upon which I’m precariously perched. Despite this I’m extremely grateful for current events. I had a wonderful birthday the day before yesterday with my parents and fiancé, and being all together really made my day which was otherwise exhausting.
You Never Know What’s in Store…
My experience of being a part of Bell Let’s Talk was incredibly meaningful for me, and then this week I had a big surprise; one that was definitively bittersweet, for lack of a better word. The first week of February (and in many places, the entire month), is Suicide Awareness. As you can well imagine, I was deeply triggered and immediately emotional. My first thoughts were flashbacks (which I get enough of, thank you very much), followed by a boiling mix of burning/conflicting emotions. The posts on John Abbott’s platform about how speaking up saves lives, filled me with gratitude that they undertake so many crucial initiatives to support students. My next thought? I HAVE to contribute! And who would I be if I did not? Perhaps this was a little harsh; after all, my entire support system has been reminding me to take care of myself first (and to heed my own advice in my blogs).
Unfortunately and fortunately, I’m one hard-headed, stubborn nut case. (I’m allowed to call myself a nut case because I’m far from believing in those garbage titles!) The call to take action and be an example of speaking up about suicide was stronger than the fear of this topic which hits so close to home. Although I was dreading making another video and was already in an unstable state of mind, I threw myself into it on my birthday. I simply spoke…with no plan or outline. I only viewed it once after and decided that it was ready. Raw, honest, painful, vulnerable…but truly me.
Monday was bad, to the point that my therapist did not let me leave the video chat session considering that I was self-harming and breaking down. And yet later that same day I received a call from the producer of CJAD 800 (iHeart radio). I know. What?! She had seen the YouTube video I guess and invited me for an interview soon about my blog, deciding to open up about my mental illness and such. Once again, I’m terrified but tremendously appreciative for the chance to share and hopefully encourage others! I can’t believe that my efforts since last August have led to these opportunities! All I want is to be of help and support, spreading solidarity and openness – and all of this is feeding my dream and emboldening me to pursue it with every ounce of determination. I can’t express my tremendous gratitude for the like-minded people I’m meeting and for all the readers here that are supporting me!
Suicide Awareness Week
Now that we’re caught up, it’s time for my message on this tremendously significant subject.
Suicide is perhaps the most stigmatized and tabooed aspect of mental illness. We dislike thinking or speaking about it, we’re very uncomfortable and we bury it in our minds to keep it out of sight. This is the very worst thing we can do. As a die-hard Harry Potter fan, I’m going to use a phrase that has always stuck with me: “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.” In this case, fear of discussing suicide increases the silence that surrounds it as well as the reticence to tell someone when one is feeling suicidal. Many people don’t understand suicide, and we can see this in ignorant remarks such as “suicide is a sin”, “suicide is selfish” and many more.
Having grappled with suicide and the views of others, I’ve now come to realize that this is all wrong. Those who are suicidal do NOT want to cause pain for others, and in fact many believe that they will be reducing pain by ending their lives. They believe that they’re a problem, and this is tragic. Also, it’s not that one WANTS to die, it just seems like the only way out of an impossible situation. A person in this position is only thinking of ending the pain. And every time we add to the ignorance surrounding suicide, we silence the voice of someone in a tremendous amount of pain who desperately needs to be heard. Silence kills! And by doing this those people don’t get to speak up and hear that there are many alternative ways to end the pain!
Want to know a bitter truth that you’re probably already aware of? After it’s too late comments flood social media about how the person seemed so happy and kind, how could this possibly happen and how much they’ll be missed. (I apologize that this is so harsh, but I’m here to be blatantly honest in the face of deadly silence and ignorance.) This is not a rant; this is a plea and me urging everyone to break the subject of suicide open so that we can have a global conversation and thereby diminish the power of this misunderstood word. Is it unpleasant to think and speak about? Of course. Is it horrendously painful to see suicide as the only option while knowing that you can’t speak of it? To carry it out and destroy the opportunities that the future brings? Feeling so hopeless and beyond help that ones’ final minutes are the most agonizing, lonely and soul destroying? I don’t need to answer. If this picture doesn’t scream that our reluctance and ignorance is a despicable privilege awarded to those who have not experienced these feelings, I don’t know what will!
For everyones sake, (and to those who believe it’ll never touch them – because they’re so very wrong), unmute yourself and be part of the solution. Be aware of others’ feelings as well as your own. Speak up. And if you feel suicidal, I beg you to tell someone! I didn’t, and it nearly killed me. Suicide is never the answer. Not because it’s wrong or makes you a horrible person, but because you deserve a spot in tomorrow. And no one, I repeat, NO ONE, is beyond help!
Please, hear my plea and join us in changing what should’ve been addressed much earlier!
I feel that my article on the ‘well of hope’ is a quite appropriate follow up after this sombre message. if you’d like to reread it, it’s available here.