**Trigger Warning – mention Suicide**
This week has kicked my butt.
I thought I didn’t mind sharing my journey. I often forget how crappy the super shitty parts felt – and I think that’s a survival mechanism. Kind of like childbirth.
But the lows have been really low at times and I never want to forget that. First of all – I AM NOT SUICIDAL. But Death (and I capitalize because ‘it’ is a ‘he’ in my mind – and he tauntingly waves at me every so often) was always on my mind. I’d be driving and have to forcibly resist the urge to smash my car into a bridge. I’ve wished for death to find me so I wouldn’t have to decide to die. I’d even wish for something catastrophic to happen to me physically – so I could be ill, broken and tired – and luxuriate in slowly getting better – guilt free, with love. People would help, bring me meals and send their support. I wouldn’t have to hurt my loved ones. I wouldn’t have to hide.
It was never that I didn’t want to live. I was looking for relief. Death was relief from not feeling, from emptiness. I DIDN’T WANT MY LIFE TO END – but I wanted my life as it was to end.
And I never wanted to share about my thoughts of suicide because I knew others saw it as ugly and dirty and selfish and weak. And so final.
We lost a friend this week. And from the comments I’m seeing online and hearing, it’s crushing me to think it was mental health related. The loss is so completely devastating. I’ve seen some posts “I wish I had been there for him” and “I had no idea, he always seemed so happy and energetic”, “He was so smart”.
You could have been RIGHT BESIDE him – and he would have still been hurting.
How do we help?
This week I’m not sure how to answer. Watching lives fall apart from the devastation that mental illness leaves in its wake is utterly demoralizing. Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Suicidal Ideation, Borderline Personality Disorder – my own circle of friends has discussed, been diagnosed with and/or fought these in the last few days alone. It is everywhere and all around us. We do need to keep talking about it.
We also need to keep talking about how one doesn’t manifest mental illness. They don’t create it. They don’t deserve it. It isn’t karma getting back at them. They have NO CONTROL over what is happening in their own brain. The only control one might feel they have is – and I hate saying it out loud – to end it.
I SO DESPERATELY WANT TO CHANGE THIS.
Last week I got to share my story on a stage at an amazing announcement with Bell Let’s Talk. It gets REALLY hard (awkward?) to portray ‘excitement’ for things I wish we didn’t even need. How can I be smiling – and still show reverence – because a machine is needed to try to save lives? Although that’s what I feel. Gratitude. Excitement. Relief that others will be receiving the rMTS brain stimulation treatment I’ve been fortunate enough to have had access to for the last five years through studies at CAMH. We are moving forward, slowly.
So it got me thinking about what it really feels like to share. Am I really contributing anything?
Here I am, sharing the dirtiest, shittiest, ugliest parts of my life. Putting myself on a stage open for judgement and even pity. Is this my legacy? There literally is no glory in sharing these pieces of my story. I can’t make you fall in love with the vision of me receiving ECT. Or with eyes so swollen from crying I can’t see. Or laying in bed not having showered for days not even able to squeeze a tear out. Feeling nothing. Empty. A huge empty dark abyss in my mind and heart. Hiding from my son so he won’t see me and think it’s his fault.
Or am I feeling like a failure right now because we can’t save those who find the pain too unbearable? Because sometimes it is. I’ve been there.
I have lovely friends doing beautiful things to make a small difference in someone else’s life. Spreading rays of sunshine because they remember what it felt like to be in the thick of it struggling to stay alive, or sober, or in your mind. They, and their efforts, are being attacked so horrifically, so brutally, it seems like where it’s coming from isn’t even human. Definitely not ‘human kind’. It’s ugly. How does this behaviour help? How is it constructive? Am I leaving myself open to this harsh judgement and ridicule? I thought we had evolved past that. Derek says I’m too idealistic. Maybe I am. Just not this week.
We have a long way to go.
A friend wrote to tell me to keep sharing. That it gives hope to others who identify with parts of my story they see in themselves. So I will. And I’ll continue to feel like I have mud on me every single time I’m on the stage.
HOPE. CONNECTION. LOVE.
That’s it. That’s enough. Isn’t it?
***Edit. Friends are already sending concerned messages (I adore you). I am really good right now. I just don’t ever want to be seen as a happy fairy flying around sprinkling magic dust of hope thinking everything is hunky-dory. I never want to be seen as flaky or dismissive – forgetting how truly hard and how life-and-death this battle is. Because it is. I’ve just been given the “gift” of reflection this week to reevaluate and recheck that my goals and intentions are on track. I want to always give Mental Illness, Suicide and the struggle the reverence it deserves.