Today, September 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day.
So far, the world in general has had a pretty shitty year. None of of us need reminding about all that, I know. Because it’s difficult to talk about. It’s difficult to think about. It’s difficult to deal with.
It’s easy to try and close off from the things that freak us out. And most of the time, that tactic works. Most of the time, we’re strong enough to deal with the rubbish that life throws at us. But these things wear us down. Being strong wears us down. Then we’re just acting strong, pretending to have something we don’t. We pretend to have it all together, when in fact it’s all unraveling behind the scenes.
The fact is, deep down, we all know where suicide comes from. We all know fear. We might experience it differently, because it has many different forms, but we know its essence. Personally, I’ve been lucky enough to have never had suicidal thoughts. But I’ve been afraid. I’ve been anxious, stressed, distraught and all those other words that we give to feelings that cripple us. We’ve all had a little piece of ourselves open up, to see that door that leads to despair. Most of the time, I’ve been able to close it. But I know it’s there. I can’t predict what will happen in the future. Something could happen which would lead me down that path. Or perhaps there won’t be a specific event to trigger something – it might be that the things I deal with on a daily basis become too much.
We need to be aware of this possibility, in ourselves and in others. So when you ask someone how they’re going, really ask them. You know how good your mask is. I know how good mine can be. I know I’ve had times where I can’t believe in myself, and I just wanted someone else to believe in me, for me. Be that person, if you can. Open your heart and your mind. Really put yourself in another’s shoes.
And when someone asks how you are, be honest. Sure, I’ve gotten some strange looks for the answers I’ve given. It’s completely automatic to just say, “I’m good. How are you?” But when you respond with honesty, “I’m exhausted.” “I feel terrified and I don’t know why.” “I’m sick of all this.” people double-take. I’ve had it happen. When I was just dropping by someone’s office and they asked, “How are you?” and I said “I’m tired.” they just kept going with the automatic “Good thanks.” as if I’d in turn asked them how they were. It was about three full seconds before they stopped themselves and said, “Hold on, did you say you were tired? I’m sorry! Why are you tired?” That was all I needed to just start talking. I didn’t need much, just a little to confide in someone, to build back up my own self-esteem. It was a small moment, but it was liberating to share my burden that had been building up that past week.
These are only little things, and they’re only my own experience with those crippling feelings. But I believe talking helps.
As always, my email is open: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you need more information, this is a good video on depression:
Actually upworthy has some pretty good stuff, if you’re feeling righteous or just need cheering up.