Before you begin, I want you to know this article contains sensitive material on suicide and mental health.
In light of recent events in the news and media, I wanted to write this article because it is becoming harder each day to see a light at the end of this tunnel. With the recent deaths of celebrities Anthony Bourdain, famous television chef, and handbag mogul, Kate Spade, suicide has been at the forefront of most social media platforms.
I am glad to see friends and strangers alike being able to openly share their stories and opinions on mental health and suicide, an issue that has affected many of us in serious ways. It is encouraging to see people be able to share their stories and receive support from those closest to them. The suicide hotline is constantly being shared across my feeds, which is a helpful resource for many in distress.
One of the "calls to action" that has risen from these recent deaths is the theme that urges people to continue to "check in" on their friends. This aligns with the theme that often no one sees it coming and even those in dire distress and extreme emotional despair show no warning signs before completing suicide. This places the responsibility on the friends of the individual suffering from metal health issues.
Now, I'm not saying this is a bad thing. I encourage everyone to be the best friend they can be. Though, even the best of friends, who is both consistent and routine in monitoring their friends health, is sometimes not enough. I myself have struggled with depression and suicidal tendencies. I have a wonderful family and support system that is and has always been by my side. Though I am recovering now, I wasn't always ready to share my darkest details with them and often covered my true feelings. This is something many of those battling depression do so as not to appear a burden on their friends and family.
So, then the question is: if I can't save my mentally ill friends by constantly checking in on their mental stability, what is the solution? I, like many in today's culture struggled with this answer, both in my own battle with depression and after these recent deaths.
I am someone who fought and sometimes still fights her way out of the depths and the only answer I can give to those also struggling with depression is this: reach out. Do not be scared to ask for help. The people in your life love you, regardless of what mental state you're in, and want to see you on the earth. I fought and fought and fought this idea for so long until I realized the only way I was going to make it out of my pit was by asking for help from others.
I regularly see a therapist. It isn't weird (she's totally rad and we text sometimes) and I recommend it to everyone. We set goals and boundaries together, indices' someone I can trust. When I feel like I'm about to spiral, I reach out to a trusted friend instead and remove myself from the situation. Even if I'm napping on a friends couch, I know it's better than locking myself in my room alone and disappearing into a bottomless void. Just sitting with someone else, even if I need to cry or be silent is better than being destructive to myself. It took me a long time to learn that my family and friends wanted me here, contrary to what the voice in my head says. I know they want to help me and that I am not a burden in their lives.
So, for those of you reading this who may be struggling with mental illness or suicidal thoughts: reach out. Yes, your friends should and can check on you whenever possible, but they cannot help you if they don't know. Things get better. The sun gets brighter. You have so many beautiful and wonderful things that have yet to happen to you and you need to be around for them. Mental illness is a massive hurdle that cannot be overcome alone. Find a hand to hold and grip tight, even when it's painful. There is so much more love in you left to share.
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