If you’re new here (firstly, welcome!) this post might seem rather abrupt, uncomfortable, or even shocking. For those who have been around some time, you know mental health is a huge, huge, HUGE, passion of mine that I advocate for and openly discuss. Remember when I talked about the day I decided to slit my wrists? Well, two years later it is STILL one of my most searched posts if not the top post of the month altogether. September is Suicide Prevention Month and I wanted to do a little check in of how I’m doing mentally since that really dark day.
Mental illness is no stranger to me or my family. This November will mark three years since the death of my beloved cousin, Ricardo, who took his own life with a gun through his mouth. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and miss the hell out of him. It will mark two years since I wrote about my own experience. A lot has changed since then, and yet some feelings still seem to stick around.
Since that day I’ve been diagnosed with Bipolar II, which I wrote about in detail here. It was a huge missing piece of the puzzle that since has been very telling of how my mental health functions and responds to various types of therapy and interventions. Anti-depressants alone had never seemed to work for me – in fact, they made things WORSE! I was on them the day I attempted to kill myself. It took going through three different providers to be diagnosed with Bipolar II, which then put me on different medications that finally made the most noticeable difference. Looking back even a year ago I can see a HUGE comparison in my moods and mental state. Although I do still get moody and experience some swings in my moods, they’re not nearly as rough as they used to be, and they definitely don’t feel as crushingly intense. I’ve also noticed my depression, though still around, is much more manageable and doesn’t last for days on end. I’m still impulsive, but it’s much much much curbed and less irrational.
Part of what led me that dreadful day to slicing my wrists was the inescapable, suffocating despair I couldn’t climb out of. When my moods swung lower than I could handle – it’s like I had blinders on. I couldn’t focus on or even think about anything beyond that actual moment and the raw feeling of total helplessness. Looking back at life in the past two years I can see all the amazing things that have happened that of course, I wouldn’t have been around for – but in that awful moment, you don’t think that way. Your mind doesn’t grasp future possibilities or happiness – rather you’re pulled into this quicksand of life-sucking darkness with no foreseeable life raft. But let me tell you, IT GETS BETTER! There IS a life to live beyond that desert of nothingness.
My heart sinks when I go through my analytics and see how people find my blog or what they’re searching for within the blog. People legitimately google “how to slit my wrists” and end up finding my page. AND I’M SO GLAD. My deepest and most genuine hope and prayer is that they read my post and realize a) they’re not alone in their despair, b) there are people out there who care, c) help is available, and lastly d) life gets BETTER. There are also about three options above my post on the google landing page that tells people exactly what they need to do to carry out the deed. WHO WRITES THAT OUT FOR PEOPLE?!!?! I wish it could get taken down, it makes me sick.
I want to clarify, I’m not saying you need a boat load of medications to be able to survive or overcome mental illnesses but that IS what I personally needed. Sometimes we find ourselves in a situational depression where different lifestyle choices can make meaningful and impactful alterations in our circumstances – driving away the anguish that landed us in the dumps. Things like leaving a job with an awful boss, or tossing out a toxic relationship, etc. Other times, it’s a chemical imbalance and I’ve suffered from that my entire life. There is absolutely zero shame in having a chemical imbalance, you literally have no control over it just like some with a dysfunctional thyroid can’t help they were handed a faulty thyroid gland. It’s the way we were built, simple as that. All we can do is seek ways to correct the imbalance and go on to live the lives we want and that will help us thrive.
Is every day a good day? No… that’s just impractical. Everyone has bad days, some more so than others. The difference is (insert eye roll at this corniness) how we choose to look at it and move on from it. I know how daunting life can feel, particularly with those unexpected curve balls, but tomorrow IS a new day and there are always people out there who care. It might not be the people you expected or even your family or the people you called your friends – but there are people. I’ve made so many connections on social media just by openly discussing my struggles, as well as in group therapy settings with random strangers. There’s also a group on Facebook my friend Amber recently invited me into; it’s literally called A Group Where Everyone is Super Fucking Nice to Each Other for No Reason. You might need an invite (I’ll send you one!) but it really is the best group. There are thousands of people who post random wins/losses/requests for help/etc on there and receive nothing but support back. It’s amazing and restores my hope in the kindness of strangers.
Another lesson I learned along the way: own and outgrow your own bullshit. For a really long time I only focused on the external things contributing to my depression or shitty situations. What I wasn’t doing was self-examining for how I also could be contributing to whatever problem was at hand. It was time for me to own up to my part in the game, take responsibility and be accountable to myself! I realized I was actually doing myself a disservice when I was so focused on anything BUT my own issues because I wasn’t learning how to grow. I kept making excuses for why this person or this situation was causing me such anguish and took a really long time to look at my own flaws and brokenness. Now, I can recognize trajectories of my words and/or behaviors and right those wrongs, or change course altogether. It’s not always about pointing fingers at others, we have to determine where WE need growth and admit when we’re wrong or in need of outside perspective. Don’t allow your momentary emotions overpower the bigger picture of your intelligence. Use that brain and think situations through rather than living in a reactionary mindset. Does that make sense?
There are SO MANY ways to reach out to people when you’re feeling like life isn’t worth living. Hotlines, text messaging, group therapy, you name it. I honestly think it’s more difficult reaching out to the people we know for fear of being judged. Hotlines and text lines are random strangers you don’t know who are fully committed to helping YOU without judgement! Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-19 and rates have risen over FORTY PERCENT for persons 25-64. Suicide rates are also higher in rural communities than metropolitan areas.
If you find yourself teetering on the edge, PLEASE take a breath and reach out to someone, anyone! If you’re someone who knows anyone who even vaguely mentions suicide, BELIEVE them! Check on your friends, check on the ones who seem to have their lives together because they’re usually extra good at hiding their pain. Be a shoulder, be an ear, and just LISTEN. Life is hard and we owe it to each other to be there for one another.
You can also text TWT to 741741 in the US for free 24/7 support.
Canada : text 686868 @kidshelpphone
UK : text 85258 @GiveUsaShout
LGBTQ Crisis Line via the Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386