I spent months with suicidal depression, standing with other moms at my son’s playground as the kids played together after school, listening to the ease with which they could talk about what was on their mind as I remained silent about my struggles. They could talk about a weird mole they had to get checked out, but I couldn’t mention that my meds were failing me. So I said nothing to them. And then after reaching out to other people in my life, with what little energy I had, I found the right treatment and I did get better.
Once I was better, I began sharing how much of a struggle not dying was for me. I blogged about it and even began sharing my struggles on Facebook. And you know who reached out to me? Those moms. They read my blog and learned what had been going on during all those times we stood there while our kids played and they said “I wish I would have known.” I wish I would have thought it was okay to tell them.
I missed out on the humanity and understanding these kind women had to offer because I was afraid they would judge, or not get it, or maybe just walk away. But I know now, they wouldn’t have. Sure, there is a chance one of them would have said something rude or condescending. The world has some condescending people who will say incredibly thoughtless things to a depressed/suicidal person. Judgmental, diminishing things. But this is the thing, the more we talk, the less these instances will happen, because condescending, thoughtless individuals can dismiss one or two people telling them things, but if all of us with mental illness stand up and say “This is real. Take the time to understand this disease. Offer help,” most of these close minded people will understand and change. Sure, some will remain close minded. Those ones? Ignore them. How does the epidemic of suicide end? When we all start sharing (in whatever way is comfortable for us) that having depression is fact, not feeling. That an optimistic attitude, while a wonderful trait, isn’t a replacement for meds or therapy,(to people who don’t believe that, I provide this silly example: ”My blood sugar was low last night and then I filled myself with good thoughts and remembered all I am grateful for, and now I no longer have diabetes!”) We do our part to end suicide, the way we do our part to end any epidemic, by being proactive, educating ourselves and others, and not being afraid to speak up. By knowing even if we are not personally suffering, as a society, we all are.