This has been weighing heavy on my heart since hearing about the passing of the beautiful Kate Spade. But I didn’t want to share because it felt (and honestly still feels) too personal. Too close to home. Too raw. However, since hearing of the passing of Anthony Bourdain this morning from suicide, I feel called to speak out. Maybe there’s someone out there that needs to hear this. I want to warn anyone who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts or depression that this post may be triggering.
I’m not sure why mental health issues are still so hard for us to talk about. I can tell someone that I have endometriosis or fibromyalgia, but when I think about telling someone that I struggle with depression and anxiety, my throat feels like its closing up. My palms get sweaty and I get nervous about how that admission will make me look in the eyes of that person. Will that make them not want to be around me? Most times I don’t talk about it. Today, for better or worse, I am changing that.
Several years ago, I almost took my own life. Luckily there was someone in the next room who knew something was off. He broke down the bathroom door to find me on the cold floor clutching a handful of pills. If he had been a moment or two later, we may not even be having this conversation. My Facebook page may be a memorial and many of you reading this would never know I existed. That’s a tough truth to swallow. But it’s mine and I am not ashamed.
The despair I felt was unimaginable. Leading up to that moment were some of the darkest days I ever experienced. I wish I could tell you that there was some cure or a ‘fix,’ but I still struggle with depression and anxiety to this day. It ebbs and flows. I have found that my depression and anxiety are largely affected by my physical health. I have been living inside a fibromyalgia flare up for the better part of a year now and that has most definitely not helped the feelings of despair. Recently, we moved and though it was a good choice, the change has been difficult for me. It’s been an extremely lonely transition. The last few months I have struggled to keep my head above water. In one breath, I may try to reach out, but in another I may pull away. Because maybe I don’t want to talk about it. Maybe I just need someone to take me out of my own head for a little while. Or maybe I don’t know what to say.
These posts sharing the suicide hotline numbers and offering statements of ‘you are not alone’ are well intended. But there’s a few other things I want to ask you to do. Don’t wait for someone to be gone before you tell them what they mean to you. Don’t take a single moment for granted. Sure, you could see them next month. You could say, ‘I’ll give you a call next week.’ But what if there is no next month or next week? Completely removing suicide from the equation, shouldn’t we live like this anyways? Because tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. I know we all have busy lives. But make the time. Make the time to love your people. We have too much technology available to us to not be able to connect to those we love, no matter how far away or how busy we are.
I implore you to be a little pushy. If you think someone is depressed and you see they are pushing people away- push back (gently). Show. Up. Anyway. Don’t feel like you have to ask a bunch of questions or offer advice. We may not want to talk about it, but leave the door open for when we are ready. Encourage us, but don’t try to ‘fix’ us. Be still with us. Sometimes just having someone there is the greatest comfort. Show us love and kindness. Don’t just remind us that you’re there for us; show up. Don’t tell us we need to be put on medication or that we have too much to be happy about. Be okay with us not being okay right now. Love us through it.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Unhappiness and depression are NOT synonymous. They are not mutually exclusive. Depression is not always ‘caused’ by an event or feeling, though certainly that can affect it. The reality is, ‘happy’ people aren’t immune to depression. They can be successful individuals with a wonderful spouse or beautiful children. They can have more money than they will ever need and a dazzling career. Depression does not discriminate. It can affect ANYONE. It can hide behind smiles and Instagram perfect lives. That’s why I beg of you, make the time to love on your people. Check in with them. Connect with them. Love them through it.
If you’re struggling or know someone who is, there is help available. Reach out to a trusted family member, friend, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-272-TALK (8255).