Why It's Called An Epidemic

Why It's Called An Epidemic

Suicide is not pleasant.
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With the recent death of Chester Bennington (not to mention the death of his friend, Chris Cornell, just months prior) it seems as though everyone is sharing their opinions about suicide and what drove Chester, in particular, to end his life. Recently, I've heard more and more people condemn him, calling him a coward and a selfish person for taking the "easy way out" and leaving his family behind. It doesn't take much to conclude that these people have never had to deal with a mental illness or thoughts of self-harm and suicide.

The first thing people need to understand is how mental illness operates. When talking to a person in a severe state of mental anguish, a number of people will attempt to either 1. Throw out the phrase "It's going to be okay," over and over, or 2. Dish out some tough love. I will tell you this now: neither of these is the right option. For those of you wondering what I'm talking about, I'll tell you.

Let's tackle number one first. You can't deal with mental illness as you would a person who is having a bad day or a tough breakup. Mental illness is different because it is irrational by nature. When you tell a person to calm down because it will all be okay, he or she won't believe you 99.9 percent of the time. Why? Mental illness brings with it a permanent siren that tells its host "You aren't okay. Something is wrong." Combating this siren is just about as easy as swimming in Jell-O. The more you argue with the mental illness' warnings, the louder the siren becomes. "You will be okay," therefore makes the person feel like you don't understand how they think and don't care to, or are attempting to tell them how to feel. Telling someone it will be okay is a totally natural response, and it is backed by good intentions. Still, it probably won't get through to the person if they are having a particularly difficult time. The best thing to do is be an active listener. Let them tell you how they feel and explain their thought process, offering advice when it is necessary or asked for specifically. Not only will it help the person to talk about it, but it will also help you get a better idea of how their mind works. Reassure them that they can rely on you and that you will do the best you can to be there for them. This increases their sense of security and safety, even if by just a small amount, and lowers the siren.

Now for number two. Never, I repeat, never speak harshly or accusingly to someone in a precarious mental state. They most likely already feel like a burden on those around them, and this only increases those feelings. It can even lead to stronger thoughts of self-harm or suicide. Phrases like "You need to snap out of it," "You're acting crazy," or "Stop making it about you," are complete no-no's. The only thing you are doing by saying these things is piling on guilt. Guilt is one of the most dangerous antagonists a person with mental illness can face. But tough love works for some people, you might argue back. Sure, that's all well and good, but for someone with mental illness? No. It might shut them up, but at the cost of their self-worth and confidence. Especially for someone dealing with suicidal thoughts and self-harm tendencies, your words act as a catalyst. You know what your response sounds like to the person? It sounds like you are encouraging this same self-hatred and confirming that they are, in fact, a burden.

Mental illness is an epidemic because people without it assume that what works for them in difficult times works for someone with it. It will remain an epidemic until we make an effort to understand things from their point of view rather than our own. It may not stop the epidemic completely, but I can guarantee a positive change will follow.

Cover Image Credit: Emaze

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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My Story As A Recovering Self-Harmer

Content warning: Self-harm.

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Since high school, I have physically and knowing self-harmed as a way to distract myself. It has been almost 7 years and right now I have only been a few months clean. In the past 7 years, I have relapsed more than a couple of times. I have gone months at a time and found myself at a breaking point.

I know it's nobody's business and it might be oversharing but this is meant for primary readers. For those who are going through recovery or just began today. If secondary or tertiary readers stumble upon this then I hope it helps you understand from the other side.

I am still recovering. The thing about addiction is that you can never fully be "cured." You can be clean for years and still relapse. The key is to decide to try again.

I call it an addiction because it was. I grabbed the razor before I could even understand why I was numb. I did it multiple times a day and sometimes I didn't need an actual reason.

It was a sort of ripple effect. I couldn't stop the ripples into turning into the next one and instead, I just watched as they spread. One second I was OK and the next I locked the door.

Some people smoke and some people drink. I hate the smell of smoke and can't stand the taste of alcohol but I often wish I could use those as a distraction for my distraction. I do many things now to distract myself from getting too close to another relapse. I let out a scream to alarm my family or I start running. The first few seconds of the attempt are the hardest. It's an internal pain that makes you itch inside out.

After a few minutes have passed I can usually begin to calm myself. I sit down and remind myself that everything is OK. It isn't always easy so calling a friend is always an option.

Sometimes I end up crying in order to release all the built-up emotions. When minutes have passed and I am still filled with tears I force myself to grab something to eat. I have realized that I can't cry and eat at the same time. I grab anything. Sometimes my siblings make me something instead.

I am seeking professional help for those who are wondering. I am almost half a year clean and I have two caring and supportive friends and a family who does their best to understand and support me.

Recovery is not easy when it comes to mental illness because the results aren't always visible like a broken bone. Any amount of self felt recovery is amazing. It's a step towards a better you. Talking to people and seeking professional help are all steps.

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

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