Content warning: Mental health and suicide
For as long as I can remember, I have been viewed as a very happy person.
Though, if you have read any of my material on Odyssey thus far, you will find that that is not really the case. Or at least, it is not all that simple or black-and-white. The reality is that I have been battling depression for many years now. Though this has been the case, I have still somehow maintained the "persona" of someone who is overall a very happy, cheery, optimistic, positive and warm person. Deep down I believe this is truly who I am as I am very much other-oriented, and find the most pleasure and joy in making others happy.
These days I feel a lot better than I have at many moments in the past. That is not to say that the darkness does not still live inside me, and make the very act of living my day-to-day life all that more challenging.
Up until about… a few hours ago, I guess, I was going to write an article about life changes and new chapters. That was until I saw an article pop up in my feed on my Topbuzz news app. This article had a particular headline that immediately caught my attention. The headline read, "Tragedy as 'happy-go-lucky' boy, 12, 'takes his own life' at home after being 'targeted by bullies.'"
I went on to read this article. It was brief, yet heartbreaking.
It was a story that, unfortunately, is all too common these days. But the real thing that immediately drove me to write this article was that saying, "happy-go-lucky."
"Happy-go-lucky." What the hell does that even mean?
I am familiar with this label on my own journey. My Dad, God rest his soul, on occasion would use this to describe me. I have a vivid memory of when he used this to describe me after becoming irritable over dinner and displaying a… shall we say, "moment of sass"? Whatever. Anyways, this label is one that I have become very aware of and apprehensive towards over the years.
This is why: just because someone seems like they are "happy-go-lucky" does NOT mean that they are!
I know you have most likely heard something along these lines said before. Hell, you probably have read several Odyssey articles already on this very idea. I've seen them around. It's nothing new. It's the now old and common story of a person who was unexpectedly lost by their own hands and no one around them had any idea that they were struggling so much. A total shock. No idea. Left only to ask, "why?"
But let me ask, "why?" Why? WHY? Why… is this still happening?
Why do other people force labels upon their loved ones and project a lie on to them? Why do people see a friend be bullied by people who feel big by putting others down and STILL not do anything? Why don't friends, parents, teachers, whoever else… why don't they listen to those who are in pain? Who are scared. Who don't know what to do, or know where else to go.
Why is it so hard to see when someone needs help? There is information all over the place these days. It can be easily reached. So why are innocent, young, old, middle-aged, teen-aged, LGBTQIA+, College-aged, etc., human beings still dying?
Why is it so hard to see that someone wants to kill their self? Why is it still so damn hard to see? And, to listen?If we actually cared. If we really listened. Maybe we would see that they happy-go-lucky smile is nothing more… than a mask. I know I wear one, sometimes. Do you?