Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and as a result of this, and the fact that as a result of my mental illness(es) I frequently experience suicidal thoughts, I felt I simply had to write a post relevant to the subject of suicide.
But whenever I consider writing a post like this, the very first thing that comes to my mind is – “Well Kev, You know this is going to raise some ‘concerned’ eyebrows. You know is will worry those who love you and give ammunition to those who judge you? And that either way it will generate some texts and comments don’t you?”
And in truth I do know that. But the fact is that posts like this are so very important. And whilst I don’t want to cause anyone any undue concern, if folk like me, who experience suicidal thoughts and have survived through them, don’t speak out, nothing will change.
So regardless of the potential fall-out I feel I have to write about this subject today and I do so openly and freely and in the hope that buy doing so it might bring a better understanding to some, and hope to others.
How are you? Ok. well let’s be honest here. We both know you can’t really answer that. I mean this is a letter not a fluent two way conversation. But I usually start my letters off asking that question. It seems polite, almost expected. And actually it is an expression often used at the opening of a great many conversations, isn’t it?
And yet I wonder how many times it is truly sincerely asked? I mean hasn’t asking it really just become social etiquette? And when folk answer, when I answer. Do they, do we, do I always truly answer honestly? Or do we give the answer that we think the other person wants to here? Or some falsehood, designed to placate or close down or avoid that line of inquiry?
“I’m fine.” or even “I’m fine. Honest I am.” Whilst sometimes spoken in truth, are also – in my opinion – phrases so often spoken falsely, are they not? And I wonder how often you have used one, or both of them, when you haven’t really meant them?
But are they words of secrecy and defiance? Which say, “I don’t want you to know the truth”? Or are they words of solitude which really mean, “I am convinced that you don’t really want to know the truth”? Or of desperation which say, “You can’t enter into the world in which I live”?
Because I have to tell you that sometimes, when I have spoken them in the past, I have – more often or not – spoken them as a result of that perceived isolation, or that desperation.
And, if I am totally honest, I have often spoken them as a result of being convinced that even if I do even attempt to tell you the truth, it will simply makes things worse and you will simply end up judging me.
And whether my feeling that way is as a result of the hopelessness, the desperation, or the deep depression that I am experiencing. Or as a result of your previous actions (or even, let’s be honest here, the actions of others before you). The fact is that those thoughts, those feelings – that conviction – is so very real to me and stands between you and I.
Those thoughts, those feelings, that deep rooted conviction which constructs the barrier between us locking me in and you out. Locking you out of a world, and me in a world, which you probably don’t understand, probably don’t want to understand, and definitely don’t ever want to visit.
A world which you so deeply desire for me to come out of and yet can’t understand that I just don’t know how to. So you throw me lifelines, homing beacons. Signals designed and intended to illuminate my path back to your world.
“But think about your family?”. “This is only temporary.” Or “I promise it will pass and we will get through this.”. “You have so much to live for.” “You know you don’t really want to do this.”. “You know are stronger than this.”
Beacons and lifelines which are well intentioned and maybe even sincerely meant. And which leave your world with care and compassion and even love, but which enter my world and become twisted and corrupted.
“But what about your family?” becomes, “You are going to hurt your family yet again.” And out of the desperation my mind screams, “See even they think you are a nuisance or a burden to your family. Yes your ending it all will hurt them, but isn’t that better than going on and continually hurting them or being a burden to them?”
And “This is only temporary” becomes, “Yeah repetitively temporary. Over over again these thoughts, this depression, this hopeless desperation taunts me.” And again my mind screams, “Do you really want to carry on facing all that?”
And what of your “I promise this will pass and we will get through this.” becomes, “What ‘we’? There is no ‘we’! You aren’t going through this, can’t go through this. And I have no right to put your through this.” And my mind echoes its taunts, “And even if YOU do get through this, where will they be the next time and the next time and the time after that? Aren’t you just putting off the inevitable? Aren’t you just prolonging the agony?”
And as for your, “You have so much to live for.” and your “You know you don’t really want to do this.” and your “You know are stronger than this.” statements.
Statements designed to connect us and to offer me a way out of my world. They are just met with (and remind me of) the desperation and hopelessness that I am experiencing.
And so the echoed responses become, “No I don’t have so much to live for, not if this – what I am experiencing now and experience so often – is all I can hope for.” and “No I don’t really want to do this, but it’s better than living what I am living.” and “No I am not stronger than this! Can’t you see that I am not stronger than this? Can’t you see how totally weak I am right now?”
Can you see how that world, that desperation, that consuming hopelessness, twists and corrupts things? Even the most simplistic sentiments of compassion and caring?
You see, right now, at the time when I am writing this, I am still resident in your world. And that world of hopelessness – when that deep dark blanket of despair falls and totally consumes me – currently seems so far away from me.
And in this world – the world we share – the world where my mental illness(es) are manageable and being managed. I recognize your beacons of hope, your lifelines for what they are and how they are intended. And yes I can cling to them, follow them, even agree with them. But in that world – the world which sometimes consumes me – they are ineffective and even often turned into judgments and condemnations.
See I know that world. Experienced that world. I have been enveloped, even almost consumed by that world. And yet I have survived that world. For whatever reason, by whatever grace, I have survived that world. And I hope and pray that I will, if and when it returns, survive it again.
Because I know that this world – the world we both share, and not that other world, is where I am meant to be. But in truth, I know that if and when the other world returns you can help me make it through.
Not by judging, not by condemning, not by throwing me cliches, or even those lifelines and beacons that are well intentioned but all too often made ineffective even harmful.
But by simply being you. By simply caring. By caring enough to simply stay with me. Pray for me. To watch over me. To protect me. Yes to protect me, even from myself and the me in that world. Heck, even just hold me. Show me I am safe, Show me that you care, show me that I am not as alone as the thoughts or that world would have me believe I am.
You see, I am not asking you to understand that world which sometimes seeks to consume me. I am not even asking you to understand where it comes from or why it comes. All I am asking is that you understand that it is there and that it does come.
And to understand one simple and yet potentially life-saving fact…
When I am deep in that world, when that world ensnares me and envelopes me and seeks to consume me. You cannot hope to enter it or to understand it and you cannot expect for me to explain it or even at times to leave it. All you can do is love the me you know and to hold me in your world until that world leaves once more.
And when it does then perhaps together, having seen and felt your love for me – even the love for the me in that world – we can try to stop that world from returning.
With much love and openness,
I wanted a picture which would compliment what I wanted to say today and so I search images and found this one over at “Deviant Art” designed by someone called ‘shutdown‘. And it really spoke to me and all credit goes to them for the picture. (No copyright infringement intended)