Every time I set out to write for YNF addressing mental health/illness and suicide, I seem to draw a blank, which is weird because it use to be so easy…
A part of me felt like since I didn’t have much support for the task of preventing suicide and addressing mental health matters that I should probably stop and leave the advocacy to the pros… another part of me felt like since I can’t address those things within my circle of friends without it leading to an in-depth, analytical conversation (that can be extremely exhausting) I should just seek help for myself and pray that others are doing the same…
But then I had to be honest with myself.
I got distracted… then I got lazy.. and then I got scared.
Distracted because I started focusing on other people and things that caused me to not take care of myself the way I should and to forget that I needed to cultivate and be part of true community… lazy because I didn’t want to keep writing with the constant reminder that I have been labeled and defined by mental illness and can only connect with people who also have in order to feel some kind of normalcy… scared because I thought that if I addressed it, it would become all I am.
Before I turned 29 (June 16th) I was desperate to fit somewhere, but I didn’t want anyone to define me either. I was hungry for connection, but no one could get too close unless they already were close… I didn’t need to deal with the punishment.. er.. stigma of being a human with faults. We all know how that goes.
Something happened, however, that I’m not sure I can explain properly… but I’ll do my best.
The people who were closest to me started distancing themselves from me. That not only hurt, but solidified my reasons for not establishing true community as I knew I should. I knew from experience that community heals, but I also knew that breakdowns in community would cause me to break down, and for a second it did.
But only for a second.. which is significantly less time than it would normally take for me to deal with perceived and actual hurt, pain, feelings, and emotions.That’s probably because everything that was leading up to my birthday seemed to be preparing me for life, and healing me mentally and emotionally without me even knowing it.
As I said earlier, I was desperate to fit somewhere… at least that’s what I thought… but I was really trying to discover who I was with the hope that that would never change regardless of whether or not I have a depressive episode or anxiety attack and whether or not people decide they want to punish me for that.
But while I was searching for my place in the world I actually discovered my true identity… that neither I or anyone else is defined by suicidal thoughts, mental illness, or ANY illness for that matter… that I needed to accept myself for who I was… who I am… who I was created to be… and so what if I’m unaccepted by some or even most? It’s definitely not all, and It doesn’t mean that I’m not loved, valuable, and cared for. I had to remind myself of that every day and I still do… and I firmly believe that speaking the truth to yourself over and over can and will break the lies that any mental illness can cause you to believe about yourself or others to believe about you.
So if anyone decides they want to label you and define you by what you struggle with, don’t stress over showing them who you really are… just be yourself. If you don’t know that yet, take some time to get help and care for yourself and you will discover who you are and you will realize that your diagnosis is NOT your identity.
Much love, survivors.