What do you say in a moment like this?

After I posted on Tuesday about talking about uncomfortable feelings, I noticed my cousin had posted on the status of one of his friends.  His friend had basically posted a suicide note.   

There were some, “don’t do this” messages and a few, “hey man, give me a call” messages and a couple, “I hope this is a joke” comments as well.  It turned into a huge thread trying to locate him to stop anything from happening. 

I don’t know the guy, he lives in San Diego, but I was engrossed and followed it for the afternoon.  A group was created and discussion about his mental state and the issues he’s been dealing with lately were all discussed (including the idea that he’s in some legal trouble or has made a mess of his life and may or may not simply be faking a suicide in order to disappear). 

I guess it just made me sad.  Although a few people were mentioning that they had recently seen him and he seemed fine, I just wonder if he had tried to reach out to friends or family in the past few days.  Funny how something so definitive opens up the conversation about mental illness a heck of a lot faster (although you could still kind of sense the discomfort from some of the commenters and the fact that they were talking around him, still not to him).  To the best of my knowledge, he hasn’t been found one way or another yet.

My sister works in the mental health field and each year, she rounds up the fam to participate in a local charity walk for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The idea behind the walk is to destigmatize talking about mental illness.

She also has her own personal history of mental health issues. That’s why it was even harsher that she was one of the ones this weekend who ignored my comments that I was unhappy and lonely. The friend I reached out to also has had bouts of depression.  And perhaps my mom’s avoidance of my comment was a silent suggestion that I take up her method of coping with uncomfortable emotions?

I’m not saying feeling unhappy and lonely = checking into a psych ward, but I’m saying feeling unhappy and lonely and wanting to talk about it but being shot down = amplifying those feelings and feeling like they are wrong or bad and that I’m more alone than I thought.

Now, I’m sorry to say, but yes, I read Get Off My Internets (sometimes it crosses the line to just plain mean, but I like how it makes fun of the ridiculousness that is blogging). Yesterday I read a post critiquing fashion bloggers’ advice to “spruce yourself up to shake off depression,” to which partypants says, “Because when you suffer from clinical depression so crippling that it’s a monumental effort just to go to Walgreen’s for tampons, the least you can do is put on jeans and lipgloss so we don’t have to look at you.” 

I’m the first person to try to make an effort with how I look, to fake it til I make it to get out of a funk, but I realized with those words that I don’t know what a serious mental illness actually does to you.  A funk is not depressed.  Yes, I get sad, yes, I get lonely, but when I step back, those uncomfortable emotions make me happy to be alive to feel them because the alternative is not something I’m interested in. 

This one time, at church camp (yeah, I said it), a girl said she’d never kill herself because she likes herself too much.  She was made fun of for being so…well, I don’t know really…confident?  What? Like it’s so cool to be depressed and not like yourself?

But, that stuck with me, I guess because I feel the same way. Even if it makes me conceited to admit, I like myself.  I’m awesome.  And I’m fortunate enough to have balanced mental health that allows me to feel the uncomfortable emotions, but not let them take over.

But I still think the world would be a better place if people could talk about their emotions and if people would listen and talk back. Why not start with you?


4 thoughts on “What do you say in a moment like this?

  1. A guy we knew at our last base just committed suicide. He’d been on watch for it back in the Spring, to the point of being checked in to a Psych Ward. Then just last week he messed something up at work, his boss called him about it and didn’t hear back. He called our friend into his office and sent him home. The boss did ask some other guys to check in on him that evening, but by the time they got there he had already died.

    I’ve always thought of suicide as a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Mental illness runs in my family. Pretty majorly too, so it’s always been an open subject at our house. But I still find that if I tell people I’m upset that they shy away.

    I’m with you that we have to learn to talk and listen and not shy away from feeling our feelings and sharing them to. So, I’m here to listen whenever you want to chat.

    • I like your stance on suicide. I’m sorry mental illness is something you have to deal with in your family, but that’s great that you’re all trying to kind of end it in a way by talking about it openly.

  2. Off topic: I’ve been on the Get Off My Internets blog since you posted this – I never knew this existed! New obsession, for sure.

    Also, I have a funny relationship with people using words inaccurately, especially when it involves serious illnesses like depression but I definitely agree that if you need to talk about it, you should be allowed to. I think stifling conversations about our feelings regarding loneliness and sadness just leads to bigger problems ie: depression. I had a friend throughout middle/high school who was checked into a mental hospital multiple times because of depression and suicide – it was a hard time for her and her family, not something that should be taken lightly but unfortunately it is by a good proportion of society.

    I also do the “fake it until you make it” tactic when I’m feeling grubby or a little blue but if I was in a full-on depression, putting on a pair of jeans and coordinating shirt isn’t really going to change it. I say keep posting your feelings and talk about it here if that’s the only outlet you feel like you have. It may make you feel better!

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