Day 29: What are a few of your goals regarding your mental health?
A friend sent that message (posted above) to me today on Facebook. She said she read that in a book and it made her think of me… ❤
I have had a few friends reach out to me in the last few weeks; some newly aware of my postings on mental health and suicide and checking to make sure I am okay (*I am and thank you SO much for checking…that is important and we should always check in on those that may be depressed*), some who are aware of what has happened over the past year and they encourage my path of healing through my writing, others who recognize that I feel led to speak out on such issues and ask me for advice for a friend or loved one they are worried about (*pointing out that I am NOT a professional and don’t have the correct information to pass along other than if you are worried, make sure they get help via an ER or psychiatrist quickly*), and others who have shared with me that they, too, have been depressed or are mentally ill or have even contemplated or even attempted themselves.
When I first began to write and speak about this I was extremely afraid. I was worried I would be stereotyped and shunned; I was concerned that my children would be stigmatized and I would lose my career. I recall thinking, and I may have even wrote, that I did not want this to be my legacy. I didn’t want people to see me and think, “There is the lady who talks about mental health, who is always posting/writing/talking about suicide.”
I was once known as many different things. I could have been viewed as one of a couple of titles I have worn over the years; wedding pro/ MMA girl/ venue executive/ marathon addict/ single working mom. I was proud to be known as any one of those…but ‘the one who gave up on life, then survived by the skin of her teeth and now won’t shut up about it‘ was not on the ten year plan I was continuously revising since my sophomore year of high school.
I suppose a worse legacy to have left would have been the one shadowing behind my loved ones. The title they would have always carried but never wanted; Suicide Survivor. Now there is a movement to change that title to Suicide Loss Survivor so those that have truly survived an attempt will be known as the ‘survivor’ as an illness sufferer who overcomes a fatal prognosis is. I honestly don’t have a feeling about the title either way. I know who I am and what I did. Now, that would be my worse fear and one I will always work to assure is not what I leave behind. This is not always easy. I still have a lot of pain. I will always be sick in this way.
I have related the feeling of holding on in spite of feeling so much pain and enduring an illness that you know will never go away with being a prisoner of war. I in no way want to offend any of our brave soldiers who have so selflessly chosen to take on immeasurable sacrifice to serve our country, but I can’t think of a better way to relate this feeling of having to hold on, no matter the torture, because there are people at home that love you and are awaiting your return from the black barrels of Hell. The ones that know you suffer but can’t do anything about it except hope you can hang on until it has passed. We often come out of this prison only to return again soon in spite of the hospitalizations, the dutiful following of prescription regimens and doctor/therapy visits.
There are those of us that suffer this prison in secret. Many do not want to appear weak, as has been a viewpoint of the past; that depressed/ anxious/ mentally ill/ suicidal people should just “pull themselves up by the bootstraps” or “choose happiness” or my personal favorite, “suck it up and pull yourself together”. If only it were that simple. I tried that method for 30+ years and it almost killed me. Everyone around me had no idea I was depressed because I was working so hard to “choose happiness”. I tried to get happiness on my team, damnit. I picked optimism every single day…but despair still came to find me no matter how hard I tried or what I did to distract myself and keep my mind busy. I did it all. If only it were that simple.
Then after the fall (aka my ‘rock bottom’) I started to seek out answers. I found others like me who encouraged my speaking out so I “came out” for lack of a better way of putting it. Since doing so, I have found many who lost people like me; daughters, sons, sisters, wives, husbands, teachers, mothers and fathers. Everyone of these bereaved beyond words souls has touched me with their story of their lost loved one. Most also didn’t know they were in such agony. I thought these survivors would look down on me and be angry that I lived through my attempt but instead I hear that because I talk about this, they realize how their person may have been feeling. They know it wasn’t their fault. It is so important that they know that. I would have wanted my family and friends to know that.
So let this be my legacy, if it is to be. I have been able to continue to write and I have noticed I have lost a few ‘friends’ and this is okay. I don’t want to bring anyone down or make someone face something they are not ready to face or be a haunting memory brought back to life…my one intention is to save myself by helping to save others. This makes me feel better, selfishly and I have found it also makes others feel better. So my goals have changed. I am no longer looking for new hobbies to fill the black empty spaces in my soul. I like my hobbies and do them as I can but I am facing my speckled black soul and dealing with it and hoping others will do the same. I am showing everyone this ugliness in hopes that it teaches someone something. You don’t have to understand it, and if you don’t I am so glad and relieved for you. But just know that someday someone you love, maybe someone you love right now feels this way, too. There is 1 of us for every 25 of you, and 1 of every 4 has at least a mild version of a mental illness.
My new goal; an updated ten year plan is to be here in another ten years and hopefully bring others who may not have otherwise been here with me; and hope those of you who do not and luckily cannot understand this make it easier for us to do that, just by not making us feel any worse. My goal IS hope.