Before I start this, I’d like to get a few disclaimers out of the way. First, I’m not a danger to myself or others. Please don’t take this that way. Second, I’m not doing this for attention, I’m doing it to raise awareness for mental health. I’ve found that being raw and real about my own struggles has helped others, so I do it for those who haven’t found their voice yet. Third, as with any essay I do about mental health, I know this will cause some of you to see me differently. I know and I’ve accepted that. However, I ask that you don’t treat me as fragile. If you’ve got questions, ask. I’m an open book about this stuff.
Now that that’s out of the way, here we go.
Suicide. Killing yourself. That’s what I want to talk about on World Mental Health Day 2016. Specifically how suicide pertains to me. It’s a highly stigmatized topic, and humans tend to go one of two ways when confronted with it. We either ignore it, or treat it like a priceless china artifact, delicate and frail. This in turn continues a vicious cycle of people wanting to reach out, but not wanting to for fear of judgement and alienation.
Passive vs. active suicidality is something some people have problems wrapping their heads around. I can say with absolute certainty that I’m suicidal. I’ve waged war against depression and anxiety since I was 13. 7 years of fighting an endless battle really does a number on the brain and the psyche, let me tell you. If anyone wants to read my story about the journey, it is here (https://medium.com/@rachelbauer/i-am-not-okay-my-journey-with-mental-illness-1487a8cee0a4#.ftwn9ekk9 ) So I’m suicidal. I have been for almost a year now. However, it’s passive. The difference between the two is very simple (but also super complex, and I’ll include links to a more detailed explanation at the end). Being passively suicidal means you’re wishing to die. Actively suicidal is just that--you’ve got your plan and you’re planning on going through with the plan.
I’m not going to lie to you: a lot of mornings, I wake up wishing I hadn’t. It’s not early morning blues, it’s a deeply flawed brain chemistry. I go to work, and it wouldn’t really bother me if another car ran the median and slammed into mine. At work, it gets a little better because I’ve got a lot of things to do and distract myself with. I’ve got people who appreciate me and sometimes even laugh at my jokes (you guys are the best ;)). Life becomes okay. However, that can change in an instant. If I say or do something wrong, anxiety tells me I suck and I shouldn’t be here, both at work and in the world. The thoughts come back and I need to fight them off again.
I’d love to tell you all that it goes away after a while. But it doesn’t. Like my depression, it comes and goes but never truly fades. Some days are so much better than others. All the right songs come on the radio, the weather is just right, my humor is on fire, and everyone loves me. Those days, often I don’t even think about wanting my life to end. Other days, depression breaks on me like a tsunami. One big wave in the morning, sometimes for an extra long time, and then aftershocks throughout the rest of my awake time. Those days, thoughts come almost constantly. Everyone would be better off without you. You’re nothing to them, you don’t matter. No one cares if you’re here or not. Not a damn person. I know that’s not true, but anxiety is a helluva brain changer.
Until my brain decides to stop being a little shit, my life will continue like this. I’m in the long-overdue process of finding a therapist and hopefully a course of anti-anxiety and depression medications that work for me. For now, I weather the storm with good humor, coffee, and a wildly strong support group (thank you, internet). I weather it because I’ve got people to prove wrong. I weather it out of spite and out of love. I weather it with a fuckton of coffee and tight pants. I always find the little things to enjoy and be happy about. Despite my personality being best described as a cold machine, I let myself cry it out. I run, I walk, I lift, and I laugh.
And I survive.
If you’re feeling suicidal, don’t hesitate to call 911 or go to the ER. The US National Suicide Hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. It’s available 24 hours a day. If you aren’t comfortable with that, I’m available most times of the day and can point you to resources and share coping tips (but I will not be your therapist, sorry). I’ve got an arsenal of them. Please reach out, because you’ve got people who love you.
Resources to be aware of:
The Mighty--a website that collects essays about health and wellness, and a website I love
www.obhhospital.com --lays out causes, risks, statistics, and effects of suicide in a concise and easy to understand manner
Google--google is your friend. Pretty much any questions you have about the topic can be answered with a simple search. There are plenty of online support forums/apps.