This is something I’ve been thinking about writing for a long time, but something that I was really hoping I wouldn’t have to write about. My hometown has lost too many people over this school year. Too many young people. Too many high school students. Too many friends. Too many brothers and sisters.
I want to make it clear that I am not here to talk about the specific incidents that have happened this year, because it’s not my business and I don’t fully know what happened and it’s not my story to tell.
Suicide is really hard to talk about. It’s taboo. It’s scary. It’s personal.
I have struggled with chronic depression for thirteen years. For as long as I can remember I was told that I’m a drama-queen and that I’m over-reacting or trying to get attention or making things up. And sometimes it was true, sometimes I just needed someone to acknowledge that I was still real and that I was hurting. But the problem with this was that I never got the help that I needed. I was told so many things: that my faith wasn’t strong enough, that I needed more prayer (I’ll admit that this has made me pretty bitter towards the church), that I needed exercise or a better diet. And all of these things contributed, but at the end of the day, an imbalance in your “happy-brain-chemicals” (as I like to call them) needs professional help.
There were days, even years, where I considered suicide to the point of knowing exactly how I wanted to do it. There were days where I had to steady my hands to keep myself from running straight into on-coming traffic.
It took me three years, new friends, seven doctor’s appointments, and a lot of tears to get where I am.
I tell you these things because I think it is so important that we acknowledge the real pain and emotions that all people experience. As a fairly healthy girl in a happy middle-class family, going to a top-notch school, with good friends, in a healthy and loving relationship I have never looked like the poster-child for depression. I don’t look like someone who needs help. We can’t write people off because we don’t see their struggles. We cannot dismiss people because they are “too young” or because they just “need attention”. This is never helpful. Never.
I don’t say this as someone that is cured, or even as someone that is “healing”. I say this as someone who is coping. Someone who is working every day to keep going.
I’m begging you to listen to the people in your life, to make them feel loved and cared about. And maybe you don’t understand why they’re acting the way they are, so ask. Don’t assume that you know exactly what’s going on. Don’t roll your eyes at someone who is expressing their pain for being “over dramatic”. And DO NOT, under any circumstances, tell someone who is thinking about taking their life that they are being ridiculous or “selfish”. These words are so damaging and will do nothing but push that person away from you.
I’m so sorry to all of the friends and families who have lost someone to suicide. I want to make it clear that I am not saying that this is your fault. I know how hard this is, please draw people around you who can love and support you.
If you are someone who is considering suicide or fighting depression I want you to know that you are loved and valuable and there are people in your life who will listen. Maybe that person is your mom, your friend, a coworker, or you can send me a message. I’m really sorry that there is something so hard in your life that this seems like the answer. Your feelings are valid and important and you are not crazy.
Here is a poem that I wrote to someone who is close to me:
when you are
too sad to speak
and too afraid to
ask for help
know that there is
someone missing you
there are no
and you are no
you are the sunrise
and you get brighter
with each passing
that you have
to give before you
The National Suicide Hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255
Chat with someone: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/