Thursday, September 10, 2015

World Suicide Prevention Day: Truths To Know About Those Who Battle

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. It's a cause that has become one of my biggest focuses in the last year. A few years ago I lost a cousin to suicide, I have friends who have contemplated and attempted suicide, and I have battled the demons myself. Suicide  feels like a scary topic. For those who deal with it first hand, and those who are too frightened to deal with it and turn away. And I think, for a lot of people who watch loved ones with depression, it feels scary because they feel helpless. I understand that. From the point of those who battle it, so do we.

Perhaps learning more about who we are, and what you can do, would help.  So here are a few things you should know about us.

  • We are strong. So strong. Look how much we've gotten through every day, all day, while battling depression. 
  • We are working as hard as we can. When we aren't able to do something, we physically aren't able to do it. It's not a matter of being lazy or not wanting to or having "messed up priorities". We are unable. The same way that someone with cancer, or diabetes, or heart disease may be unable. 
  • We want to be able to see you, to do things with you, to get out from under the covers. We want to fee safe "out there." We long for that day. So don't give up. Don't stop inviting us or trying to help us.  The 10th, 100th, 1000th time you ask might be the one that saves us when we're ready to lose our battle all together, when we feel like everyone's given up on us. 
  • We feel alone. Constantly. We feel more alone in a room full of people who don't understand us (which is quite possibly everyone) than we do when we're actually alone. 
  • We know we're not like you. Which is exactly why we always feel alone. Please don't continue to point it out, unless you're doing so in a way that is entirely, and genuinely, positive (i.e. we have some creative skill you wish you possessed, for instance).  
  • We're not stuck up or judgemental.  We aren't looking down on you or too good to join in your fun.  We just can't enjoy the things you do, even if we want to. It feels unauthentic to pretend, and often, downright anxiety or panic producing. 
  • The one thing that feels real is clinging on to who we are. Regardless of how little we think of ourselves, please, don't make us give up the few bits of our identity we may believe in and hold on to. Don't make us change for you. It will verify our thought that we're nothing, unworthy, unloveable as our true selves. 
  • Sometimes the smallest things seem like the biggest victories. Don't downplay them.  But also don't exaggerate them like we're a little child. We can spot inauthentic from a mile away, and the last thing we want is to feel like people are walking on eggshells, playing a part, or putting on a show for us. Again, it will only verify how much trouble we feel we cause everyone else, and add one more thing to our list of why we're nothing. 
  • We don't understand our depression, or our tears, much better than you do, other than knowing it's part of our life and our brain. If I don't know why I'm crying, or why I'm feeling so bad, the answer is simply depression. 
  • For many of us, depression is a lifelong illness. We may get better or worse, but it doesn't get cured. This is particularly the case with someone who battles mood cycling. Our (hypo)manic stages may suggest we're better, full of life.  But that also suggests eventually, we'll crash back down eventually.  If you have someone in your life who suffers from depression, know that they may always do so. Don't like us or love us for who we are when we're "better" or "normal".   Like us or love us just for who we are. All of us. 
  • We are not looking for attention. Most likely it's the last thing we want. We feel bad enough about ourselves. We don't want the spotlight on our lives and our illnesses, unless perhaps in situations like advocacy work where we'e sharing our stories to help others. But please, depression, or thoughts of suicide, are not attention-seeking. 
  • However, if we reach out, if we say we are depressed, or don't want to live, or anything else that suggests suicidal thoughts or behavior, please, don't dismiss it. It could be our attempts to reach out for help. And your support, and care, and concern, could be what pulls us through when we otherwise may not. 
I hope that his helps. Suicide, and mental health all together, is an elusive topic. It's been taboo. People don't want to talk about it, and others don't want to hear about it. I am not one of those people. And so, if you want to share your story, or have questions, I am all ears. Please, always feel free to reach out. As awful as mental health conditions are, it has helped me to discover one "gift" of sorts:  the ability to help others who struggle. And I strive to use that insight to the fullest. 

No comments:

Post a Comment