– no it’s not! If you’re thinking about killing yourself call 1-800-273-8255
The title of this post is misleading – “Suicide is Painless” is a song title – it was the theme song to the TV show M*A*S*H , loved the show and I even used the song as an audition song in my acting days. Not because I was very good at singing it, but because it evoked emotion in me. But it is a misnomer. Even those of us that contemplate it know that. Wait, WHAT? Us? You? Yep me….. I am a person who has contemplated suicide many times and may have attempted it a time time or two. But that doesn’t come close to defining who I am. I am not my mental health.
Don’t worry, I’m ok. I’m not a risk to myself or others , I have a wonderful happy life with a magnificent wife, good kids, sweet furry, feathered and scaled family members, a good career and fun hobbies and a few friends that I can count on if needed. This isn’t about me asking for help for myself, I know and do that when I need to. I have my overall health and well being managed. This is more about the words we choose and mental health awareness, understanding and removing the shame that society puts on those of us with mental health challenges.
I saw a post about suicide the other day , actually I see them every day – the things you think about tend to show up in your field of view more often don’t they? This one post struck me the wrong way and made me angry. As someone who battles depression every day, this particular post really struck me as wrong. I have to believe that It came from a good place, I think. But it was way off of the mark. I think it was meant to try to help people who contemplate suicide, but it didn’t help, it hurt. It hurt so much, it made the depression that I fight worse. It made my self-loathing and sense of worthlessness and helplessness even deeper. Please don’t comment on this with comments about what you think of me (good or bad) that is not my point here and I am not in search of compliments or criticism with this post. If you suffer from any mental illness you get it, it is not about what you have or what you do or what others do. It’s just a part of who you are. You deal with it, you get help and you live day by day. Some good days, some great, some dark and dreary some devastatingly unbearable, but we go on. We find something to cling to in order to make it to the next day. The sun’ll come out and all that. I’m pretty good at it and have a perfect record so far, and most of you probably didn’t know this about me at all, I don’t broadcast it, or complain about it, I go through my life trying to help people and animals, I live, love and laugh and am just like anyone else – that’s really my point with this post in a bigger picture kind of way, we’ll get there, but for now..back to the front! (Metallica reference there sorry – and there’s a sign, my friends who apologize too much – I’m one of you)
Back to the post, it was one of those chain letter/copy and paste things, here it is (it’s in it’s original, as posted format – complete with spelling and grammatical errors):
Wanna kill yourself? Imagine this. You come home from school one day. You’ve had yet another horrible day. You’re just ready to give up. So you go to your room, close the door, and take out that suicide note you’ve written and rewritten over and over and over You take out those razor blades, and cut for the very last time. You grab that bottle of pills and take them all. Laying down, holding the letter to your chest, you close your eyes for the very last time. A few hours later, your little brother knocks on your door to come tell you dinners ready. You don’t answer, so he walks in. All he sees is you laying on your bed, so he thinks you’re asleep. He tells your mom this. Your mom goes to your room to wake you up. She notices something is odd. She grabs the paper in your hand and reads it. Sobbing, she tries to wake you up. She’s screaming your name. Your brother, so confused, runs to go tell Dad that “Mommy is crying and sissy won’t wake up.” Your dad runs to your room. He looks at your mom, crying, holding the letter to her chest, sitting next to your lifeless body. It hits him, what’s going on, and he screams. He screams and throws something at the wall. And then, falling to his knees, he starts to cry. Your mom crawls over to him, and they sit there, holding each other, crying. The next day at school, there’s an announcement. The principal tells everyone about your suicide. It takes a few seconds for it to sink in, and once it does, everyone goes silent. Everyone blames themselves. Your teachers think they were too hard on you. Those mean popular girls, they think of all the things they’ve said to you. That boy that used to tease you and call you names, he can’t help but hate himself for never telling you how beautiful you really are. Your ex boyfriend, the one that you told everything to, that broke up with you.. He can’t handle it. He breaks down and starts crying, and runs out of the school. Your friends? They’re sobbing too, wondering how they could never see that anything was wrong, wishing they could have helped you before it was too late. And your best friend? She’s in shock. She can’t believe it. She knew what you were going through, but she never thought it would get that bad… Bad enough for you to end it. She can’t cry, she can’t feel anything. She stands up, walks out of the classroom, and just sinks to the floor. Shaking, screaming, but no tears coming out. It’s a few days later, at your funeral. The whole town came. Everyone knew you, that girl with the bright smile and bubbly personality. The one that was always there for them, the shoulder to cry on. Lots of people talk about all the good memories they had with you, there were a lot. Everyone’s crying, your little brother still doesn’t know you killed yourself, he’s too young. Your parents just said you died. It hurts him, a lot. You were his big sister, you were supposed to always be there for him. Your best friend, she stays strong through the entire service, but as soon as they start lowering your casket into the ground, she just loses it. She cries and cries and doesn’t stop for days. It’s two years later. Your teachers all quit their job. Those mean girls have eating disorders now. That boy that used to tease you cuts himself. Your ex boyfriend doesn’t know how to love anymore and just sleeps around with girls. Your friends all go into depression. Your best friend? She tried to kill herself. She didn’t succeed like you did, but she tried…your brother? He finally found out the truth about your death. He self harms, he cries at night, he does exactly what you did for years leading up to your suicide. Your parents? Their marriage fell apart. Your dad became a workaholic to distract himself from your death. Your mom got diagnosed with depression and just lays in bed all day. People care. You may not think so, but they do. Your choices don’t just effect you. They effect everyone. Don’t end your life, you have so much to live for. Things can’t get better if you give up. I’m here for absolutely anyone that needs to talk, no matter who you are. Even if we’ve NEVER talked before, I’m here for you. ❤️ Copy and paste this as your status to show people there are people out there that care
Please DO NOT copy and paste that! That message isn’t helpful to those of us who live with depression and suicidal thoughts at all, or at least not to me. I don’t claim to speak for anyone other than those without a voice so I will just stick to talking about me. I get the point of the post and while it may have some truth to it, it sure doesn’t help the people who are thinking about suicide, I think it may help someone who lost someone that way maybe (I’ve lost people this way too and this still didn’t help me, but I can see both sides of this) This message doesn’t do anything but make me feel horrible, guilty, sad, worthless, selfish and broken. It doesn’t lift me up and give me hope and it sure as hell doesn’t make me want to ask the person who posted it for help. Why? Because that person is judging me and thinks I don’t care about anyone but myself. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Don’t you think I know how much it would hurt others for me to kill myself? But my mind (at the time of a suicide attempt) has fully convinced me that in the long run they will be better off, that I would be doing them a favor. I know that is not true but in the moment it is very true. I know there are probably trolls who will comment on this and tell me to make the world a better place by going through with it, but I think there are more kind people out there that will understand and appreciate what I am saying here and maybe one or two that may get help based on these words, that is my hope. That me opening up a little more about my mental health can help someone, maybe give me another thing to cling to , we can never have too many clingy thingys.
The truth of the matter is I care, sometimes too much, about others. I put nearly everyone above myself already. That is my choice and it is my way of helping myself – by doing things and being there for others (people and animals) it keeps me focused on positive things and away from the darkness. I suspect there may be some of my wildlife rescue and some of my people rescue friends who know exactly what I am saying with that or a least a light bulb turns on about me for some. I don’t think that my death by my own hand would make anyone happy. I realize that some people would be hurt and shocked beyond belief with my suicide. I am fully aware of that. It doesn’t stop the thoughts or the feelings that come with depression. You know what does help? A post that actually makes a difference to me? It’s seeing the simple posts with the Suicide hotline numbers in it – just a simple 1-800-273-8255 That’s it, that is helpful to me, someone who lives with depression and suicidal thoughts on a frequent basis. You know what also helps? Reading about your day to day life your personal successes and challenges the fun and funny things that happen around us every day. Your life matters to me and helps my own life matter more to me. I know that may not be how it’s supposed to work, but it works for me.
I know that a lot of you won’t get it, don’t get it, don’t want to get it. There are those of you who still think that depression is a sign of a weak mind or worse, their are other who think it’s because I’m a “Godless man” nope none of those things are “what’s wrong” with me. There is nothing “wrong” with me .. do you get that? read it again. Yes I have a mental illness, so do millions probably billions of other people, because we learn so much about the brain in science every day we will probably learn that everyone has some kind of mental illness soon. I’m not special, I’m not any worse than you or anyone else, I’m just me (A you-er than you reference jumps to mind here).
Friends, the days of mental illness being shameful are over (or at least they should be). I am not ashamed of who I am, ok well maybe I am but I certainly shouldn’t be and writing this helps me and maybe helps you too. The stigma that is “mental illness” shouldn’t be a thing.
Stigma: a “mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person: the stigma of mental disorder” synonyms: shame, disgrace, dishonor, ignominy, opprobrium, humiliation. ~OED
As a society we need to un-mark/ declassify mental illness as a shameful thing. The shame I feel is a compilation of what I have learned and my environments throughout my life up to this point. That shame has pushed itself into my psyche. With this writing I am trying to expel that shame. You can help me, and who knows, maybe others by realizing that it’s not weak people or “crazy” people who have depression and think about suicide or even commit it. So before you post about mental illness, if you’ve never had the experience yourself, ask someone who has worked through it or is working through it – some of us will work through it until the day we die – ask them about what you’re thinking of posting and get a perspective on it you may be surprised to find out that it hurts more than it helps. And just asking the question, just having that conversation will help you and the person who’s dealt with mental illness.
I know deep down I believe that I have worth, that I make a difference, that I am good person. I work very hard to be good at my job, kind, fair and live up to my personal code of ethics and conduct, I have integrity and a moral compass. I really try to be a leader by example to anyone who looks up to me or looks to me for direction ( hey don’t laugh there may be a few out there, if not well one of my dogs does ) I know these things about myself but knowing those things and fighting to keep them at the top of my mind are a minute by minute struggle. It’s freakin’ hard people. I am fairly certain that every person in the world will, at some point in their life, have what clinically is a mental illness. That right there should be enough for the stigma to be erased but it isn’t. It is a struggle to get rid of the thought that it’s wrong to be depressed. It’s not wrong it’s natural but sometimes we all need help to get out of the rut, and sometimes the depression stays far too long and you need a medication or therapy to get out of it. That’s OK! You’re not broken if you have depression and it’s ok to ask for help.
If I asked you for help because I was thinking about taking my own life would you help me? I’m betting that you would and that you’d be happy and proud to help and that the act of helping someone not commit suicide would be something that you would take pride in and share the story of how you saved a life.
So turn that thought around. Put yourself on the other end of that – you’re thinking of killing yourself and you really don’t want to but you think it’s the only way out, the only way to end the pain you are feeling and the pain (you think) you are causing for others – ask for help, you can bounce your idea/thoughts off a stranger at a suicide hotline anonymously if you’re worried about that danged stigma , or ask a friend or family member. Better yet, don’t let it get to that point – trust me I KNOW how hard that is! It sounds so easy to someone who doesn’t get it but I know it’s damn near impossible. You CAN do it. I know that I make every excuse I can to avoid it myself – it’s too expensive ( really? My own life isn’t worth a 30$ copay or even a 100$ session?) , I don’t have time to do that ( Really? I don’t have time to save my own life?) , I’m fine I’ll get through it like I always do, hey I have a 100% track record of getting through each day without killing myself – that only matters until it doesn’t…. this last part of that post really bothered me:
Your choices don’t just effect you. They effect everyone. Don’t end your life, you have so much to live for. Things can’t get better if you give up.
Really? You think I don’t know that my “choices” affect ( sorry I have to correct that) others? When I think about killing myself it’s not about them… it is about me and my pain, adding the “future” pain of others in not helpful in making be either feel better or decide not to go through with it, in fact it makes it worse and harder NOT to go ahead and call it life.It’s not a selfish thing when I say it’s about me.. if you think it is you still aren’t getting it and I am sure that’s my fault for not explaining it properly.
” I have so much to live for?” that is much too vague – If I reached out to you for help in a life or death crisis, fighting for my life – talk to me ask me about what is going on , have a conversation and LISTEN, don’t judge, help me remember just 1 thing that will make me change my mind. Vague platitudes like that don’t help.
Lastly “Things can’t get better if you give up” Give up? so you’re adding to my pain by calling me names? a quitter? maybe I’m not quitting, maybe I am starting a new chapter for you and for me… no calling me names is not helpful.
What’s the bottom line here? The bottom line is you matter, I matter. Our lives matter and if you are thinking of ending your own life, call 1-800-273-8255 or call a friend, call your family, go to the hospital, or a fire station, a police station. People do care about you and you care about them too. Suicide isn’t cowardly but it’s also not the answer and it certainly is not painless.
A good article for what to say or do for someone who reaches out to you for help! (veteran or not this is good information and a good article!)
As always my friends:
Stay Safe, Be Kind, Keep the Park Clean, Pay it forward, Make a Difference and One Love – http://wp.me/p2RcFA-3Z
Stay safe starts my sign-off for a reason – Stay Safe means just that – You, yes you – Stay safe! Everything after that is optional
Written in memory of all those lost to Suicide. Amy Z. this one’s for you.