I used to write on here a lot about mental health and my own experience with being bi-polar, and being open about it was something I prided myself on because, after all, it’s not something to be ashamed of.
Have I been suicidal? Yes.
Have I been hospitalized? Yes.
Have I been over-medicated? Yes.
Have I self-harmed? Yes.
I don’t get into it very often on here anymore, but with two recent high-profile suicides shining a light on the issue again, all I see are tweets and Instagram posts reminding people that it’s OK to ask for help.
And this is great!! I love that there is so much love being spread on social media because it helps counter all the inevitable comments and obtuse beliefs that people who kill themselves are selfish or “deserve” it. I don’t care how rich you are, how wonderful your spouse is, how many exotic vacations you take – that doesn’t make a person exempt from mental illness. That shit doesn’t recognize social status.
Today I snapped and ranted about something to Henry:
When you reach a certain point of depression, numbness and ambivalence take over and frankly, maybe you don’t give a shit about asking for help because talking is so goddamn exhausting or you’re afraid you won’t be heard, or you don’t want to burden someone else. Asking for help is not an easy thing to do either. I’ll admit that I mostly just ride it out and those around me are none the wiser. #actingskillz
But second of all, can I tell you how many times in my life I have cried for help, and was met with eye rolls, smirks, flat out derision? Called a drama queen. Accused of “just wanting attention.” Told to “get over myself.”
The amateur explanations and justifications are cool too: “Is your period due?” and “You’re probably just hungry” are among my favorites.
You hear these things enough, and you tend to build walls. I’ve lost so many “friends” (good riddance!) for trying to be honest about what’s going on in my head, how I don’t want to go to their party because the thought of being in a room with strangers makes my throat feel like it has hands around it.
This is why the suicide hotline is available. I know, but sometimes you might just want a familiar shoulder to cry on.
So if someone is trying to open up to you about why they’re sad or feeling flat-out hopeless, try not to judge and rank the severity of their problems because what might sound like something that’s easy for you to shrug off might feel like a ton of bricks on that person’s back. And maybe they’re really struggling to explain it to you. It’s not easy pulling these vague thoughts and abstract emotions out of our hearts and brains and transforming them into some perfect, understandable, familiar package, like spun sugar on a stick.
Sometimes are all I can muster is an “I don’t know!!!” followed by a geyser of tears when someone asks me what’s wrong.
Yes, I talk to Henry about this a lot and he always holds my hand while I wade through through the muck and mire. And I take daily walks while running through the mental list of why my life is worth living, things to look forward to, memories that make me laugh. It’s a struggle, it requires effort, and the sooner we can get everyone on the same page where this is a real problem, not a “phase,” and it’s not going to go away if it’s ignored, then a ton of lives will be saved.
While there is definitely much less stigma than when I was diagnosed in the 90s, it still sometimes feels taboo to talk about, in my own experience, and I know I have definitely made some people uncomfortable with my honesty and bluntness on the subject. So too often, I keep my mouth shut.
What makes it easier to succumb to the sadness is all of the rampant hate in the world. Just walking around the streets of Pittsburgh on my lunch break, the prevalent vibe seems to be ANGER. People screaming at each in traffic, on the sidewalks, into their cellphones. So much anger and hate in the news, too.
I mean, we do live in an age where the go-to Internet roast is telling someone to kill themselves and the current US President is one of the biggest bullies of them all, so clearly there is a lot of work to be done.
Until then: Be patient. Be kind. Be open-minded. Be outspoken. Let’s all turn our phones off more often and paint a picture, write a letter, read a BOOK.
After all, we’re all going through this together.