THIS POST EXPLORES THE DEPTHS OF MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS; INCLUDING, TO SOME POINT, SUICIDE AWARENESS.
September 10 of each year is World Suicide Prevention Day in order to raise awareness for mental health; especially for the signs of those around us who may be toying with the notion of suicide.
I will have to get more personal than usual about this subject in this piece. You may read something that resonates with you; you may even read something that makes you feel uncomfortable.
"I almost wasn't here today."
There; I finally said it. I finally felt the courage to say so on the platform of my own writing.
There was a time when I almost didn't reach college age. I almost wasn't a LAKER (and everyone knows what my time at Grand Valley State University meant to me).
As a teenager, I did indeed make attempts on my own life.
That wasn't supposed to be me.
My family may have misunderstood me; but whose family didn't?
I may have dined with the outcasts during lunchtime; but the popular kids would still at least greet me in the hallways, knowing that I was kind to everyone. I couldn't party with the cool kids or date the pretty girls; I couldn't really hang out with anyone but ONE of the outcasts on the weekends either.
I never did have my first official date; but the girls (including most of my crushes) were cordial enough with me and some would even share a dance or two with me at school dances. It wasn't their fault that they were seeing other guys and I was single.
In short, on the surface level...
"I was NORMAL!"
"I had an ORDINARY relationship with my family!"
"Of course I had friends!"
"I was too nice of a guy to feel this way." (I was too nice of a guy to bring it up to anyone, save for a couple of close friends).
"...but I was always SMILING!" (Save for the moments when I was publicly crying instead; and in school of all places. Part of me DOES appreciate your pity).
Suicide doesn't always have the "same" face. You have to take the time to know someone pretty well to know the signs to look for. Even then, some people are more cautious about showing the signs than others. (Remember that even a "funny guy" like Robin Williams is now no longer with us because of suicide as only a high-profile case that people still talk about today).
For me, a huge part of thoughts of suicide reflect back into a person's mental or emotional health state; occasionally their spiritual health too.
I can honestly say that it's been many decades since I've last made an ill-advised, and honestly, pointless, attempt on my own life. It hasn't stopped moments of "darkness" from creeping in.
To this day, well into my adulthood, I can be living on the highest of highs one minute; and feel incredibly low the next. I can be surrounded by the embrace of a crowd; and feel alone. I can relish the sensation of the arms of a female friend; and, quietly, still know that our "affections" will only ever be platonic ones in my private desire for MORE.
"Well WHY do you feel the way you do...?"
If I knew how to pinpoint WHY this happened, let alone WHEN these feelings could possibly come back again, I'd be in a far better place as I could at least predict when my "dark" emotional health would rise up and I could pinpoint a reason for it and fight back with the truth that I am indeed a well-liked individual (take THAT, false sense of "loneliness") or that even my crushes "love" (platonically; and they mean APPRECIATE) me (take THAT, frustrations over unfulfilled desires!)
"Just BE HAPPY!"
"Don't worry; be happy."
Alright; I'll get right on just flipping that "happy" switch.
And, while we're at it, thank you so much; how could I have ever forgotten to "just be happy" and, therefore, the unannounced feeling of sadness/loneliness/unfulfilled desire/loss would just fade away like a Thanos snap? I feel SO much better now.
...Yeah; that's NOT the response that SHAMING a person for struggling with mental/emotional health elicits; ESPECIALLY if those struggles have reached the point of feeling suicidal.
I'm not yet at the point where I've confided this to a professional; though I WILL reach out to friends when I need them (When I reach the point of turning to Social Media to ask for "Smiles or Prayers; Whichever You Happen to Believe In," it does NOT mean that my mind/heart/spirit/some combination of two or three is in a good place right now). When these thoughts DO come, they can last a minute; twenty; a night; a couple of days. And the frustrating part is that I don't know "WHY" or "WHEN" they'll be back. (As recently as the night before my birthday, they had very publically altered my mood and outlook because of something as SILLY as a STORM for all of an hour right before I had birthday plans. The rain passed, I went out with friends, and, from then, I just felt embarrassed by my earlier bleak mood).
So, if I don't talk to professionals yet, I will go to social media or confide in very close friends, or listen to music, or be to myself for an evening or two until it passes; maybe I'll even revisit such "old friends" as an old sitcom or 60s/70s/80s cartoon that I have on DVD.
WORDS OF WISDOM:
...When I DO reach the point of putting enough of my thoughts/explanations together to talk to someone, I don't always need advice or an argument or the perspective of someone going "I have bad days TOO!" There are times that the best thing that another party can do is to LISTEN without judgment, as MAYBE I just need to get some of these feelings off of my chest to feel even a little bit better. Oh; and a huge part of the problem here is that I DON'T KNOW "WHY" these thoughts/feelings/emotions occur to me; or when they'll go away or when and if they'll ever be back...
This is not an easy read and even I'll admit it. I DO appreciate you making it this far.
If you do struggle with suicidal thoughts or actions, I don't know how useful you will find this but "there is only ONE of you in this world of billions of people; YOU are (relevant/beautiful/stronger than you think...). YOU MATTER!"
If you do struggle with mental, emotional, or spiritual health, I beseech you to seek the help that you feel that you need. It doesn't need to be a helpline or a doctor; consider a trusted family member, friend, or confidant/mentor. DO consider approaching someone who you can trust to care about you before you feel that it is too late...