It Is Okay Not To Be Okay, But It Is Not Okay To Keep It To Yourself

It Is Okay Not To Be Okay, But It Is Not Okay To Keep It To Yourself

Don't suffer in silence.

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We lose an average of 123 people to suicide each year in America. The conversation surrounding suicide was active this summer when we lost Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. People were shocked by their passing, and many couldn't understand that even those who seem to have it all still suffer.

There are thousands of people who suffer from depression and thoughts of suicide. However, rarely do we know who they are. Although our society has worked hard to diminish the stigma around suicide and mental illness, many of those who are suffering still have trouble communicating. Reasons vary from not thinking there is someone to talk with to fearing judgment.

But I want to make it clear to anyone who is suffering; please don't keep your feelings to yourself.

It is hard for me to say such a thing, as I don't suffer from depression or thoughts of suicide. However, from the outside, I can tell you that the world is full of accepting people willing to help. Yes, there are still judgemental people out there, but they are outnumbered.

There is always someone to talk to. I don't care how lonely you feel, there are seven billion people on this planet, and you have the means to connect with any number of them at your fingertips. Beyond that, we have websites and the suicide hotline with people who are trained to help those in crisis.

I can't begin to imagine what it must take for a person to decide to end their life, but it would be wrong of me to not send this reminder to anyone who may need it. It's perfectly fine to not be ok, but you have to tell someone. Your life is just as precious as the next person's. Whatever mountain you're up against may be hard to climb, but what if you get over it? What if there's hope?

Reach out to someone, to anyone, for help. Don't suffer in silence.

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What Losing Someone To Suicide Really Feels Like.

In Loving Memory of Andrew Allen Boykin (1997-2015)

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A word that describes what it feels like to lose someone to suicide? That doesn't exist. It's actually a whole jumbled up pool of emotions. Almost unbearable comes to mind, but that still doesn't quite cover it. You never think it'll happen to someone you know, much less a family member.

Let me start off by telling you about my experience. I was up late one night studying for a big nursing test I had the next morning. My phone started ringing, and I automatically assumed it was my boyfriend who knew I would still be up at midnight. It wasn't, though. It was my mother, who usually goes to bed before 10 every night. I knew something bad had happened.

"Mama, what's wrong?" I could hear her crying already. "Baby, Andrew shot himself," my mother then told me. I flooded her with questions. Where? Is he okay? Why was he playing around with a gun this late? What happened? She then said, "No, baby, he killed himself."

Disbelief

Disbelief was my first reaction. No, that couldn't be true. Not my Andrew. Not my 17-year-old, crazy, silly, cousin Andrew. Not the kid who eats sour Skittles while we walk through Walmart and then throws away the pack before we get to the register. Not the kid who, while we all lay in the floor in Grandma's living room, is constantly cracking jokes and telling us stories about how he's a real ladies' man. This can't be real. I'm gonna go home and it is all just gonna be a mix-up.

Confusion

It wasn't, though. I sat in the home of my grandparents, with the rest of my family, confused. We tried to go over what could have caused him to do it. Was it a girl? Did we do something wrong? He acted normal. Nothing seemed off, but I guess nobody will ever truly know.

Anger

For a minute there I was mad. How could he do this? Did he not know what this would do to everyone? So many people loved him. I just couldn't understand, but I wasn't Andrew. How could I understand?

Regret

Regret was my next feeling. Why didn't I do more? What could I have done? How did I not notice he was hurting so bad? There wasn't anyone who knew, though. For the longest time, I told myself that I should have texted him more or just made sure he knew I loved him. In the end, I always realize that there wasn't anything I could have done and that he knew I loved him.

Pain

The funeral was almost insufferable. A church filled with people who loved Andrew. People that would never get to see him or hear his laugh again. The casket was closed and the whole time all I could think about was how I just wanted to hold his hand one last time. My brother, who spent almost every weekend with Andrew since they were little, didn't even want to go inside. They were only a year and a half apart. At one point he just fell to the ground in tears. This kind of pain is the heart-breaking kind. The pain of picking a 15-year-old off the ground when he hurts so bad he can't even go on anymore.


Heartache

This led to heartache. I thought so much about how his life was way too short. He would never get to graduate high school or go to college. He would never get his first grown-up job. He'd never get married or have children. Dwelling on these thoughts did some major damage to my heart. We missed him. We wanted him back, but we could never go back to how things were.

Numbness

For a while after, I could honestly say I was numb. It had hurt so much I think my body shut down for a little while. That disbelief would pop up again and I would forget it was real. I'd try to block out the reminders but that doesn't really work. Every time I see sour Skittles I think about him, or wear this certain pair of earrings he'd always try to get me to give him.

Longing

This past week marked a whole year since he passed away. What am I feeling now? Still all of these things plus a little more. Longing is a good word. I miss him every day and wish so much that he was still here with us. I'll see little reminders of him and smile or laugh. We had so many good memories, and I could never forget those or him. That's what I cling to now. That was my Andrew.


In Loving Memory of Andrew Allen Boykin (1997-2015)

"If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever."


If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

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10 Facts That You Need To Know And Keep In Mind When It Comes To Mental Health

Mental health is an important topic to talk about

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Mental health is a serious subject that we need to start talking about and breaking down the stigma that comes with mental health and mental illness. I'm a strong believer that a person's mental health is just as important as someone's physical health. Here are 10 facts about mental health that you should know about.

1. Mental illness is common

https://oneinfive.com.au/

According to Mental Health, in 2014, "One in five American adults experienced a mental health issue," while, "One in 25 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression." (Mental Health, 2014)

2. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death

https://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/is-suicide-different-from-physician-assisted-death/12771

It is the tenth overall cause of death in the United States. In 1980, there were 26,869 deaths when it came to suicide where in 2016, the number was at 44,965. (National Center for Health Statistics, 2016)

3. People with mental health problems are good employees

http://www.blufftonsun.com/good-employee-relations-foster-loyalty-growth-cms-237

It is reported that they have good attendance, punctuality, they are motivated, and they produce good work.

4. The signs and symptoms of mental illness include:

http://www.tpr.org/post/how-can-we-change-minds-about-mental-health

Feeling sad, burned out, or useless that last more than a period of two weeks. If someone has ongoing worries/fears, sudden fear/panic, physical symptoms that can't be explained (like headaches or chronic pain), lack of energy, and when they want to spend their time by themselves instead of with other people, that's a sign of a mental illness.

5. There are a lot of treatment options, services, and community support systems

https://www.findtreatmenttoday.org/mental-health

Studies show that people get better and most people recover completely. And they also show that they work in helping the patient get better.

6. There are many factors that contribute to mental health problems

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/b4stage4-get-informed

Biological factors (genes, illness, brain chemistry), life experiences (trauma/abuse), and mental health problems in the family are just some factors that contribute to mental health problems.

7. People around you can make a difference

https://www.everypixel.com/image-4127722291700857603

There are ways that you can help someone with mental illnesses, like being there for them and not defining them by the illness that they have. There are so many ways that you can help someone with mental illness.

8. Generally, people that have a mental illness are not violent

https://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-20200603-group-positive-mixed-race-young-people-having

There are only a small part of those with mental illness that are violent in any way. According to USC, they state, "...only 3-5% of violent acts can be attributed to people with a serious mental illness." (USC, 2017).

9. People who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community are twice as likely to have a mental health condition than those who are not a part of the LGBTQ+ community

https://www.youngisthan.in/opinions/lgbtq-people-reveal-hide-sexuality/55808

10. By the age of fourteen, half of all mental health disorders show first signs.

http://fancycrave.com/group-of-friends-partying-on-the-beach-during-sunset/

Then by age twenty-four, three quarters of mental health disorders begin.

Remember that mental health is important. People who have mental illness are not inferior to someone who doesn't have a mental illness. Mental illnesses are different for everyone who has it.

Let's start breaking down the stigma.

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