I will be honest I never thought I would share my mental health on social media. NEVER. The more I listen to so many who can not talk about those dark days, the more I realize that I need to. Look let’s face it I am a walking trigger for many but the truth is triggers should set us free not hold us back. It will not happen if we do not talk. How the fuck do we do that? This is dark and scary, no one wants to touch that. I do want to just talk along with a small army of those who want a change.
A few months ago my buddy Gabe came to town in is Herbie the Love Bug to help drive out suicide. We drove around my hometown and chatted-even kid #4 hopped in. I remember asking him what do you think we can do to prevent suicide, his response was real and typical of him. “To talk and know not everyone is happy.'' While it is very hard to listen to your child speak frankly of something you struggle with I know that I will do all I can to keep this a safe space for him and his brothers to come to. Gabe and I talked about postpartum depression, cancer and depression, trauma and depression and we laughed a lot. Laughing and suicide who can they go together? Well see they do cause that is my story, I do not know maybe it relates to you as well. But we just talked.
I first realized I was depressed when I was about 10 years old. I dreamed of dying thought about how and how it would play out. But death surrounded my in a tragic way so bringing it up seemed impossible. As I grew up I found ways to self destruct whether it was self harm, drugs or hanging out with the wrong crowd, I was searching for ways to implode. I had 3 friends die before I was 19, I mean close friends and their death seemed so appealing to me. I tried a few times before I was 18 to kill myself but no one seemed to want to discuss it. I needed to JUST TALK!
I worked really hard at masking my depression. It was easy I am loud, mildly obnoxious and the “life of the party” so no one suspected I was looking over the edge and wanting to fall. I had a few years of pushing through and living but the darkness was real and I was starting to not see light. After kid #4 I began my fall. I know I have talked a little about this but for the newbies this is a recap. I lost an unhealthy amount of weight but got the “oh my god you look so good” yet I hated how I looked and hated myself. I was criticizing my parenting, friendships and anything in the middle-beating up hard on myself was something I have perfected. I was not good enough. And that was a heavy feeling, I finally could not bear the weight. I remember the therapist looking at me saying “are you in danger of hurting yourself”. All I could say was “yes”. It was time to be hospitalized and just talk.
I am not going to go into my story more because I want to talk about what we can do just wanted to show I am no stranger here. And what the hell is that we can do? We have to talk. The fact is talking about suicide does not make that person want to. My god it makes us release all those thoughts we are having. Validates that this shit is ok to talk about. If we can get someone with suicidal thoughts to talk for 10 minutes we can sometimes get them through that day. We need to be able to discuss self harm and understand why. Self-harm is not an attempt to commit suicide, it is a coping mechanism for stress, distraction, self-punishment or expressing feelings but can lead to suicidal thoughts quickly. Those who self-harm cannot simply stop. It is a release they believe they need. Self-harm is easy to hide which makes identifying it hard. It is not just cutting- burning, hitting and Eating Disorders all are part. Finding an alternative is key. Rubber band around your wrist to snap, holding ice until it hurts, drawing on yourself or intense exercise are great solutions. Self-harm is sometimes about feeling the emotional pain. We need to remember not all pain should be felt physically. This is an uncomfortable conversation but very important. Just talk.
We often find ourselves not being able to really know what to say. It is scary and real we fear losing that loved one and this makes us unsure what to say.
Things to say to someone struggling.
🌸 You are not a burden
🌸 I can give you space
🌸 You are doing ok
🌸 Take as long as you need
🌸 It’s not your fault
🌸 I love you
🌸 Celebrate even small victories
🌸 Lean on me
🌸 How about a stay in night?
🌸 You are enough
🌸 You matter
Know the facts and do not play into the society. We are still in the world that has those with a mental illness playing the villain. Those living with a mental illness are being blamed for violent acts and so much more, this only perpetuates the stigma. It is time to know the facts! Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%–5% of violent acts can be linked. People with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population! 1 in 5 American adults experienced a mental health issue. 1 in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression. 1 in 25 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. These are just cases with those diagnosed, so many can not get a doctor to see them or have no insurance or good forbid we viewed mental health the same as physical. We need to just talk!
We want a change right? We want to decrease the suicide rate for sure. We can not get there any other way then talking. Open the door and have that conversation. I am talking about doing this any time especially when you do not even think there is something going on. We can not get to where we need without talking about hard subjects when we feel ok. Practicing some important tools when we feel good makes them easier to use when we are struggling. I wear a semicolon tattoo not just because I want to remind myself my story is not over but because I want others to see they are not alone. I have seen others with the tattoo and I simply show them mine. Sometimes that brings a great conversation or it validates their story and mine. It is my way of just talking. We this desperately to reach out to that friend that you think maybe suffering or that friend that just seems to be ok or better yet do this for YOU! You matter! Asking for help is not a sign of weakness it shows humility and courage to take care of yourself. Let’s talk together, let’s break that stigma!