It’s hard being on social media this week. In light of Kate Spade’s and Anthony Bourdain’s passing, I’ve gone through a reactionary cycle. The initial shock that people so prevalent in the world are dead. The seeking of information about the death. The indulging of other’s reactions. The shock of it all, the seeking of more, the indulging. As I scroll, it gets monotonous, many of the same or similar posts. It was encouraging, heartening, to see these at the beginning of the cycle. Now, it’s almost too much.
As someone who battles with mental illness, it’s interesting to me to see this global reaction in my social circle. It’s odd to scroll through social media and find so many posts on mental health. As someone who has contemplated suicide, even recently, it is really tough on me to see all of these posts. You see, I’ve learned that life is about doing things, accumulating pleasant events, finding pleasure and peace in existing.
Every day, I’m trying really hard to do all of that. Even though I work so much, I try to make work bring me joy. Working with kids helps with that, it is easy to find joy when they say that they love you or they are so happy that you are there. When I come home from a 15-hour day, my cat is always there for me. I could be in such a bad mood, exhausted, hungry, depressed, perhaps suicidal, but Leo is there at the door. If he doesn’t run out into the hallway and plop down for me to give him belly rubs and carry him back inside, then he plops inside while I plop down beside him. When I do that, I just lay there, maybe crying, maybe numb. He paws at me, or gets up and rubs his face on me, or he lays on my back. No matter what he always seems to diffuse the situation in my mental state. Soon, I realize I’m okay. Soon, I’m just exhausted and hungry and I’ll get up to eat and go to bed. Until then, I’ll just lay on the floor with my cat.
When I interact with others, I try not to let on that I struggle. Every day is hard fought. Just because I seem happy, or well, doesn’t mean that I am. All it takes is a moment and my whole state of being could be spiraling down. I’m trying to mediate it, and I’ve learned skills to help prevent it and skills to help me get back out of it. But it may never truly go away. It’s unrealistic to think that I would never have a suicidal thought ever again. As much as people may want to believe that I am well now, and that suicide is just a thing of the past, it’s not. Nowadays, suicidal thoughts tend to be casual in passing. They occur, I ignore, and then I go about my day.
Being suicidal doesn’t happen as often as it once did. I’ve learned better ways to cope. I’m living out my truths, and makes me happier. I have more support now than I’ve ever had. I’m better equipped to handle situations. Every day I am finding more of myself and improving myself to the best of my ability. I am happier, and I have a mental illness.
Happy doesn’t mean “not sad”. Happy doesn’t mean “not depressed”. Happy means that in this moment, I am content with “this”. What “this” is could be a multitude of things. It could be as much as existing and as little as this coffee. I try to find something that “this” could be as often as I can. Sometimes, I forget that anything could be “this”. Like right now “this” is: I’m just laying in bed with Leo curled up next to me, writing.
I sometimes feel hopeless, alone, bitter. I think a lot of people that meet me on a day-to-day basis have no idea that these are feelings I have often. Maybe this is why I find it so exhausting to be out of my apartment. So exhausting to be in public. It’s like carrying a heavy mask that makes sure people don’t think you are crazy. It seems to say: “Mhm, yes. I’m just like you, a normal functioning human being” cue robot pretending to be human and hiding it’s malfunctions.
Because the answer isn’t a hotline. I’m terrified of talking on the phone. What is a stranger going to tell me that I haven’t heard before? Sure, it helps others, please keep it around, but you are missing people here. If it was as simple as calling a hotline, we wouldn’t have people dying by their own intentions.
Because the answer isn’t calling 911. I’ve actually had 911 called on me, more than once. It’s terrifying. They treat you like you are crazy. They deceive you because you are considered incapable of rational thought. They don’t give you choices. They scare you into agreeing with their course of action, and they don’t actually care to follow-up. They don’t actually care about your well-being. They care about their job and about not seeing a trauma unfold in front of them.
Because the answer isn’t “I love you”. I know people love me. I know I’ve been loved my entire life. Yes, your love means something, a whole lot of something. Suicidal thoughts tell me that you would still be better off without me. I know that isn’t true. Suicidal thoughts also tell me that I will die some time, and why not now? The immense pain of losing someone is unbearable. I still try to bear it in small lumps at a time. I started considering suicide when my dad got cancer. The thought of losing someone so close to you, of losing that love, the thought of losing again, that’s what suicidal thoughts remind me. Sure, I’d be causing others to lose me sooner than expected, but at least I won’t have to bear the pain of losing all of them potentially first. Suicidal thoughts tell me that I should die because I love you.
Because the answer isn’t “Things will get better”. The thing is that you can’t tell the future. Looking to the future for a better life makes you miss the present. It’s important to be aware of the present. Be aware of how you are right now. In order to effectively help myself, I need to be able to assess where I am and what skills I can do to help me stay or get back to a better state. I shouldn’t be looking toward the future for better, or better might never come.
Because there isn’t a right answer. There’s only answers. And sometimes, you don’t have a question to answer, you have to make the question yourself. ASK others how they are doing. BE there for them. Saying these things and not following through is a formality, not a reality. ACTIONS speak louder than words. Act towards those who are struggling. Make plans with them, be honest, open, and sincere with them, show them you love them. You can help make the world a better place for them, if even just for a moment.
Note: I am in a good place right now. A really good place. It’s been stressful from how much I work, but I’ve maintained my well-being better than I ever. I have a therapist available on call 24/7 for me. She knows that I only call when I really need it. I’m really good at following rules that I deem reasonable. I would never attempt anything without calling my therapist first. You can trust her and I with the task of keeping me alive in the moments when it seems bleak. I say all of this because the majority of people who read this blog love me so incredibly much, as I love them. If you are worried, channel it to reach out and make plans or check in with me. It’s a win-win scenario if you do this. Thanks for reading!