Smiles and Suicide

I said that my last post was one I really struggled with. I think this one might be even harder for me. Apparently, this is the week for me to rip open old scars and talk about the tough shit. I promise my next post will be something more fun, like me almost getting stabbed by a sea turtle. But today I want to talk about suicide.

First, and most importantly, let me just say that I am not suicidal. I am no risk to myself thanks to the help I’ve gotten. And even though I’ve never been actively suicidal, I have, at my worst moments, been passively suicidal, meaning that I wasn’t trying to kill myself, but I also didn’t care about living. This was back when I was in high school. I felt alone, and saw no sign that it’d ever improve. I felt like nothing more than a burden to those in my life. The only reason I never became actively suicidal was because I didn’t want to be even more of a burden to anyone.

There are two reasons why this post has been so hard to write. First, there are very few people who I’ve ever talked to about how dark it was in my worst moment, and the revelation of how little I cared about preserving my own life might be frightening to people I love (shit, sorry mom). They would never have known where I was because I didn’t show obvious signs. I hid my pain with a smile and a non-committal “I’m fine” so that I wouldn’t have to be more of a burden to them. Many of the people in my life have been truly wonderful. It is not an exaggeration to say that if I hadn’t had them, I wouldn’t be here now.

The second reason this post has been so hard is because it reopens the memories of those dark days. It reopens the numb phone call I made to my best friend in the middle of the night one night because I couldn’t sleep and I felt like no one cared whether I was there or not. It reopened the occasional debate that sprang up in my head, wondering what would be the most efficient way of doing it. It reminds me of a darkness I hope I never experience again.

But it is so incredibly important that this be written because I promise you there is someone somewhere going through something similar, but hiding it with smiles, just like I did. And no one can talk about it because of this damn stigma, this idea that if you are suicidal you are somehow defective as opposed to it being the chemistry in your brain that is broken. This idea that if you are suicidal you are fragile, and you’ll break if someone makes too sudden of a move has prevented too many people from talking about this.

We don’t want to talk about suicide because the idea of self-destruction is so fundamentally illogical to many of us. It scares us. But that is what mental illnesses is, an illogical imbalance in your brain. But it isn’t a weakness. And it damn sure isn’t shameful. Depression isn’t just a sadness or a lack of energy. It is a serious disease that can be fatal. I am speaking out through this blog generally and through this post specifically because if we open up about it, if we end the stigma, then there are a lot of stories that we can keep from ending prematurely. And that is something to genuinely smile about.

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