Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. As someone who struggles with chronic depression, and has attempted suicide in the past, this is a big deal to me, and a cause that is near and dear to my heart.
Many of those who know me are surprised when they find out that I’ve struggled with depression for years. The first time I wrote that I was depressed in a journal, I was a mere 7 years old—it is in my first diary. What I brushed aside as teen angst and struggles with growing up came back with a vengeance when I was in my early 20’s. I still never wanted to believe there was a problem, until it was nearly too late.
My family and friends seemed shocked and some were in disbelief when I was finally diagnosed, partly because I hid my pain so well, partly because I have a flair for the dramatic and partly because of what I view as a major problem in society today: the stigma associated with mental health. It is scary to talk about pain, to admit that you are sad and scared and hurting. No one wants to be “the crazy friend” who struggles.
I am happy to say that I got help when I needed it most, via medication and the world’s best therapist (seriously—I adore her, and would totally be her friend away from the office. Is that creepy? Probably, sorry about that). While my medication levels are very, very low these days on a daily basis, I am still in regular talk therapy and have medication I can use in the event of a panic attack or breakdown. I have good days and I have bad days and I have in between days, but what’s important is that I have days because I got help. My days my not always be extraordinary, but I am here, living them, and I am so grateful.
One of the most inspirational non-profits that I am aware of is To Write Love On Her Arms. This is their vision for suicide prevention:
Beyond treatment, we believe that community is essential, that people need other people, that we were never meant to do life alone.
The vision is that community and hope and help would replace secrets and silence.
The vision is people putting down guns and blades and bottles.
The vision is that we can reduce the suicide rate in America and around the world.
The vision is that we would learn what it means to love our friends, and that we would love ourselves enough to get the help we need.
The vision is better endings. The vision is the restoration of broken families and broken relationships. The vision is people finding life, finding freedom, finding love. The vision is graduation, a Super Bowl, a wedding, a child, a sunrise. The vision is people becoming incredible parents, people breaking cycles, making change.
The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead.
The vision is the possibility that we’re more loved than we’ll ever know.
The vision is hope, and hope is real.
You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.
I love that they say that this is not the end of your story, that there is hope and possibility. I have no way of knowing who is reading my blog, or what they’re struggling with. If you need help, I beg of you: GET IT. Don’t wait. Call Hopeline. Call a friend. Call your mom or dad, a co-worker…anyone. Get it out. Get help. It’s not worth waiting until it’s too late.
If you know of a friend who needs help, reach out. Do it today. Don’t be afraid to ask those tough questions: if they are really okay, if they need help, if they need love or a listening ear. Believe it or not, it’s those tiny gestures that make all the difference.
My “birth-day” of celebration is August 5—the day that every year, I remember what it felt like to get help, and to start over. Last year, I was featured over at the extraordinary 37Days, and if you’d like to read more about how those tiny moments and gestures saved me, take a peek.
I realize that this post is lengthy, but these words from a post on To Write Love On Her Arms Facebook page sum up what you can do today perfectly:
What’s your part to play? We’re all invited. Smile at someone, know someone, say something, ask the question, make the call, take the drive. Every life is priceless and fragile. We get to guard and fight and care, for the people around us. There are plenty of things to fight about and for over the course of our lives – let’s remember that people are the most important thing, the brightest surprises on the planet. Let’s remember that every single person has a story entirely unique and incredibly important, but not everyone can see it. And what a privilege that we get to do our best to remind and invite people, to believe better things, to believe that it’s possible to change, to believe that life is worth living…
We’re not saying that it’s easy. But we’re saying that it’s worth it.
Love is the movement. Thank you for caring.