There has been something weighing heavily on my mind these past few weeks. It started a few weeks ago, I was crying on the floor having a “panic attack” and this thought popped up, “Maybe I should just kill myself”. So defeatist, so weak, so cowardly. Who do I run to to talk about this to? What ways would I be judged if I divulged this information? I can’t stand pity and everyone I have shared this information with responds with pity. Even more terrifying is the fact that this is a perpetual thought that comes up and that I’m haunted by it. Always followed by the thought, “I am such a failure, I can’t even successfully and bravely execute my own suicide”. Followed by, “everything is okay, keep it together”.
The next week, the world found out Kate Spade had died by suicide. A few days later Anthony Bourdain. It was a sobering realization for me that this season of stress and overwhelming emotions was not just mine. Whenever a celebrity has been found dead by suicide, I always feel an overwhelming sense of comfort that I am not the only one. Aside from the obvious grief of losing great personalities and thinkers. Then, I grow sick reading articles of people who are in shock or disbelief and avoid reading any coverage on the topic. I feel like that’s our society’s way of coping with not knowing how to talk about these things. Disbelief. Alcohol is a HUGE depressant, did NOBODY recognize how much Anthony Bourdain drank and spoke to it?
I wonder, when will someone say #metoo. I KNOW what it feels like to feel so alone and helpless. I hate reading and hearing that “those thoughts are a symptom of the disease”. Our problem is that we label depression and anxiety as a DISEASE and suicidal thoughts as a SYMPTOM. We are so obsessed with labels and then we attach stigmas to these labels. No one wants to talk about their feelings if they are DISEASED. Why can’t we simply just identify the feelings someone is having when they are “depressed”. Instead of seeing these feelings as a symptom we have to TREAT or FIX with drugs, why can’t we take preventative measures on this issue? We need to explicitly TEACH how to identify, regulate and accept emotions. Not categorize emotions as “good” and “bad”.
The ideation of suicide has been with me since I was about 5 years old. I remember, distinctly in elementary school, my mother talked to me about it. Shared with me her plans and I was horrified and worried that I would come home to her dead and it would be my fault. Then she told me I should just cease to exist and I should just kill myself. I know this all sounds cruel, but it was a projection of her feelings that she had NO ONE else to share with. Because…society.
Yes, these projections and ideations are dangerous and have affected me for my whole life. In tandem with other things that happened growing up, these thoughts I have are a pattern that I am working hard to rewire. I get “panic attacks” and have “anxiety” and “depression”, but I would like to refer to those as “overwhelmed” and “figuring out what to tackle first” and “needing space and time to heal”. The way we TALK about these things has a huge impact on what someone would be willing to share. Our society has created such a protection AGAINST “negative” emotions. We need to create emotional awareness and acceptance, instead of burying things that cause people discomfort.
I feel like my battle with this issue hasn’t been what I can’t handle. Rather, it has been a battle against what OTHER people are not willing to deal with. I have yet to find someone (besides a therapist) who knows HOW to talk to me about this. It is isolating to know that as many friends and family members that you can gather, very few are willing to just let you be sad. That my failure to FIX my problems is causing OTHER people pain. So, over time I just stop sharing my “problems” with others. It has been a long journey and one I continue to navigate with choppy waters. With that said, if you or anyone you know is dealing with something hard, do get help. Meaning, go consult with a professional, find books about the issue and learn about it, be accepting of someone if they just want to mope and watch Netflix – maybe join them (just try to at least get them to exercise, eat healthy (cut processed sugar, drink water), and don’t self-medicate with alcohol or other substances (No, going out and getting blackout drunk is not the cure to sadness- it feeds the beast).
I share this in hopes that someone dealing with the same problems knows that it isn’t all on them. I share this in hopes that if you know someone dealing, you will put the work in to understand them and not try to FIX them. I share this because even though it’s very personal, I hope that other people will be okay to share their stories too. Or that they at least share it with those closest to them and help OTHER people understand what they need.