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?