Being open and transparent on social media is a good 743 times easier than it is in “real life.”
I don’t have to look at people in the eye when I say that I attempted suicide twice… I don’t have to worry about their facial expressions when I tell someone I used to be an alcoholic… I don’t have to hear someone gasp in disgust when I say that I have used promiscuity and pornography to deal with the stuff I didn’t want to deal with…
There’s other stuff I don’t have to admit to in public settings which would get some kind of reaction…
I can type it all online and get a few people (hopefully more at some point) to who identify with this stuff to feel better because they aren’t alone.
There are times when I speak of my past and present struggles very plainly and candidly and I believe that is when I just don’t care or I use it a wall in order to prevent people from getting any deeper… All that information is getting deep enough, thank you very much. I’m perfectly satisfied with a connection to people that feels true but is absolutely counterfeit… (Hmm and I wonder why I’ve struggled with depth in my relationships… I digress).
But the honest-to-God 100% truth is that I am absolutely sick of myself doing that, and I am NOT AT ALL satisfied with counterfeit connections, telling half-truths, or not speaking up at all in a lot of occasions because it adds to the problems in my life… and in the lives of others. And a lot of times it CREATES the depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts that people are so desperately trying to get away from.
So I’ll continue to be transparent by telling you that when I found out this morning one of the members at church died by suicide that I was deeply affected by it in more ways than one, even though we weren’t close at all. It made me want to withdraw and go back to the place that God still helps me crawl out of sometimes because for some crazy reason I believed that going through it again would somehow bring them back so they could know that they wasn’t alone and that it was going to get better in some way, shape, or form.
We grieved as a unit at service, then of course began the speculation of why they would take their life began… which… come on now, have the decency to at least wait a while.
But it made me realize that for me (I will not assume for the person who took their life, and I KNOW for others) the perceived speculation and the fear of it is the reason why it took me over a year to ever admit to anyone openly that I struggled with anything and attempted suicide twice.
Which brings me back to my original point.
You absolutely don’t have to worry as much, if at all, about stigma online but shit like that kills in face-to-face interaction. Literally. To think stigma isn’t a trigger is to embrace the ignorance that fuels it.
So PLEASE, if you are reading this and you know or think you know someone who is battling with mood disorders and suicidal thoughts, best thing to do is shut down that little place in your heart or mind that makes assumptions and make room for people to be transparent so that they can be free. I’m willing to bet that you will save at least one or two lives doing that, and prove just how preventable suicide actually is.
For those who need help, it’s here: Get Help
You are loved, survivors. Until next time.
So the other day I was looking through my room for some documents, and I found this…
This isn’t what I was looking for…
And you’re probably thinking I colored this in when I was a kid, but I actually did this when I was 23, at a mental health hospital. Coloring this was actually one of the highlights of my stay there, because it was the first time in a very long time that I experienced what I believed was complete peace in my heart and silence in my mind. There were many people in the room for that group therapy session, but I couldn’t hear or really even see anyone while I was engaged in an act you would think is reserved for children and insulting to my age and intelligence… If your ability to be prideful supersedes the ability to be humble, that is.
After I finished this (in my opinion), I felt proud of myself. More proud than I’d ever felt. I’m not exaggerating… I remember being extremely happy during the coloring process and afterwards, telling myself that I would always keep this on my proverbial “refrigerator” as a reminder that I could contribute to something beautiful and elevate something simple, even though I had to be treated under special circumstances and/or restrained (essentially) to figure that out.
After my stay at the hospital I would look at this picture and get all nostalgic about the “good times” at the mental hospital, how I felt I could more freely express myself there than out here in the real world and how I was way more understood then that I was in any present moment. But the thing that brought me joy was starting to become a trigger to depression… so much so that I considered a voluntary stay at any hospital… so much so that I considered attempting suicide again in order to extend that stay. I knew that was bad though, to understate it just a bit, so I put the picture somewhere I thought it couldn’t be found.
So years later when I found this pic the other day after completely forgetting it and the actual lesson associated with it for some time, I was reminded of what I’d learned and was given insight on how it could be applied to my life today because depression and anxiety still try to punch me in the gut today, just to a lesser extent.
Let me elaborate…
There are times when I have expressed myself to people (both when I was in my right mind and when I wasn’t), and because of that I now have limited access to them. They have placed boundaries on me and walls against me, understandably so, and it is their right to do that. Those boundaries and and walls however, unbeknownst to them, feel like the same bounds that were on me at the mental health hospitals. They feel like handcuffs.. and that if I ever dare make the choice to try crossing the boundary line and breaking through those walls I’ll be put in my place, to put it a different way. Just like I stayed inside the lines on that picture, I have to do so in life.
But look at the shades of blue on the butterfly’s wings… Just because those wings are a certain length/width/etc, it doesn’t make it less beautiful or diminish its value, nor does it negate the creature’s ability to fly. I bet if you looked up in the limitless sky you would notice THAT or ANY butterfly for that matter.
We have to see ourselves in that way… as butterflies. Sure there may be limits on where you can go in certain circumstances, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go anywhere. There might be boundaries and walls against or around you for whatever reason, good or bad, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fly upward and onward. When people set limits and labels on you, let them; but REMEMBER to NEVER other people’s limited understanding/compassion dictate or diminish your value or worth. Get help from communities of people who know how to show you who you really are and can enhance your ability to express yourself and stay away from people who put limits on you.
Stay strong, survivors. You are loved.
Helpful resources here: https://yourenotfinished.com/get-help-2/
Let’s face it… The Christian church/church organizations, at least in my experience, is inherently terrible at combating mental health/mental illness and suicide; I mean they rarely acknowledge its existence. I mean I get that it’s a touchy subject, but MY GOD… can we touch it a little bit? Can we act as if we aren’t blind to the millions of people in the nation and the world who struggle with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the like? Can we possibly include that in the things that we seem to love to pray and intercede for? Or would that be too difficult?
How about a more direct approach… like making it a requirement that pastors and other leaders within the church (or church organization) know how to counsel and love on people who struggle with mental illness and suicide ideation? Or would that be too difficult?
I can’t imagine how many people who struggle with mental health issues and suicidal thoughts have intentionally or unintentionally been mishandled (to understate it severely) by pastors, leaders, members of the church, and people in general who call themselves Christians due to mental health and suicide not being on the agenda of the church in the grander scheme of things. Based on that it’s no wonder why people go somewhere other than to God/His people/the Church to help them deal with anything they might be going through at any given moment. As a Christian, and this is just my own experience, I can honestly say that the church is NOT the first place that I believe that I can go to when I am going through a depressive episode. Not without being judged or feeling dismissed like how I’m feeling at that moment doesn’t actually matter. Not without getting the “Oh, its just the season” or “Every goes through it at some point” or “It will be ok just keep praying.” And it’s unfortunate because I’m sure that there are countless other people who feel the same way… and uhh.. IT SHOULDN’T BE LIKE THAT!!!
It’s impossible for a people who claim to believe that God can do all things and that He is a healer but has seemingly forgotten about people who deal with mental illness and suicidal thoughts… or worse, that they brought it on themselves and can therefore fix it themselves with a little more prayer and worship… Cause here’s the truth of the matter, church…. Even if YOU don’t have a heart for those who are attempting to battle this thing called mental illness, GOD does have a heart for them.
I can’t really think of a palatable reason why one in the body of Christ would ever neglect to pray for, care for, and love on people who are struggling with mental illness and suicidal thoughts. We can’t sing stuff like “break my heart for what breaks Yours” without realizing that it BREAKS GOD’S HEART to see his sons and daughters not being able to live freely and worse, not wanting to live at all. It’s 2015, and it’s PAST the time where we should be not be aiding in adding to the stigma and prevalence of mental illness and suicide, but aiding in ending them by extending our hearts and hands in love, along with God, to those in need. Or would that be too difficult?