It’s world suicide prevention day as I’m writing this. My fingers have hesitantly hovered over the keys now for about 20 minutes. I am lost for words.
There is such a horrid stigma around people who are suicidal.
They are not always teenage girls, or young men.
They are not always sad or depressed.
They do not always self-harm.
And, most importantly, they don’t all ‘look’ suicidal.
I’ve had lovely weekends with relatives over the past year, and on this one occasion that stands out from last month. I was in a really rough patch. I was underweight and my physicals were poor. I was self-harming badly, hidden by sleeves. I was upset at home and often distressed as well.
Once this trip was over my Aunt asked about my plans for next year. I said I wasn’t doing great, and I’m deferring uni for year as I’m not safe to be alone. The instant reply was:
‘You looked fine at the weekend’.
Why is it the case for so many people that we are offered judgement before support?
I beg that people stop relying on how someone ‘looks’ to ask them if they are okay or if they need help. Don’t go by if someone is wearing make-up or not to judge if they are depressed. And don’t believe that depression is the only disease that kills through suicide. Bipolar mania kills. So do personality disorders. Likewise with eating disorders. Don’t trust laughter to tell whether someone’s suicidal or not. Look for the happiness in their eyes, not just in their voice.
No one is selfish by being suicidal. Or ungrateful of the life they have. No one should feel guilty for feeling hopelessly sad. Or hearing voices. Or having a brain that tells them not to eat. Suicide thrives on this pain caused by mental illness.
But pain hides.
It is invisible. It can’t be detected on a blood test. And it is overwhelming.
Sometimes it’s about looking beyond the exterior to see how someone is. Sometimes it’s hidden under sleeves. Behind bedroom doors. Or simply in the mind of someone.
Don’t assume someone’s okay because they haven’t told you otherwise. Ask them. Know that suicide has no ‘look’. It doesn’t have a demographic, or a gender, or a body type or even a hairstyle. Mental illness hides in plain sight.
My auntie judged me by my cover, without ever reading the first chapter. She has no idea about my hospital admissions for suicide attempts in the past. Or the self harm or the overdoses. But she also never stopped to ask.
Pain hides in the darkness we let it lie in. Be a beam of light for someone. Rip back those curtains and turn every lamp on.
Darkness blinds us from the things around us. This can either be our greatest treasure, we never have to see the dangers and pain lurking in front of us. Or it can be our greatest fear, knowing there are things within it that are killing us. Either way, the problem with living in darkness is that it also stops us from seeing all the love we have nearby as well. It only takes for someone or something to turn on the light, or draw the curtains, or stay with us until sunrise, for our lives to come properly into focus again.
by Emma Cunningham
wordpress – thelilaclysander.wordpress.com
Imagine having a hive of bees stuck inside your head. A frantic buzzing and stinging of your insides. Another hive in each of your limbs. And gigantic swarm inside of your stomach. There are so many of them I can barely think, my thoughts are all stung and shaking, and the rocketing little wings vibrate me. It sends the shakes through me like ripples; I can barely sit still. Words and words and words spiral out of my mouth from my chest; words with no shape; no sense.
I am soaring at 3,000 lightyears, 3,000,000 feet above everyone else. While I ascend each second the rest of the world moves like snails on the land beneath these clouds that I stand on. A fluttering frustration with the people below, unable to keep up with me, nowhere near as high as me. But another fluttering too, one from the bird inside my chest, the one I used to call my heart. It beats its wings, like that of a hummingbird, with each swish there is life life life. That feeling of falling in love 500 times a minute. With whom? I could not say. I do not know who I’m electrified for.
The sticky honey from those bees clouding my vision, so sweet but so debilitating. The sweet glucose firing the worlds I have thought up in my mind within the past breath. Fuel my ambition and watch me laugh at you when you tell me inventing a new planet is impossible.
Waves of euphoria crash against my chest like tsunamis, flooding my lungs and my blood with this energy. The kinetic energy within them so strong I can barely cope, the beating within my ribs jolting my neck and twisting my spine. Do not mistake mania for sweet bliss, no, it is crushing euphoria. And with each wave is the message, ‘there is no such thing as sadness anymore’.
love the parts of you that you never even think of
your elbows and your brain
your laugh, your stride, your expressions
love the bits of you that you hate
snores, sneezes, dodgy hip, achy neck
make sure you love the things you can’t see but know are there
the attitude that sparks blazes
and the shyness that makes your cheeks glow amber
love yourself beyond your body
love yourself when you give more love than you take
or when you ache in your stomach from feeling
everything all at once or nothing at all
that part of you that feels every emotion of your friends
even when it seems like no one understands your brain
the mind of so many ideas its like a firework display
or the gentle calm you bring when you smile
remember to love your voice as well
not what it sounds like, but the words it speaks
love the chaos in what you scream
and the power in what you sing
(even if it’s only in the shower)
love yourself because of who you love
love yourself because you’re learning to love yourself.
Making sense of moods can be really hard, and I’ve found it so bloody confusing when I’ve been so unsure about how I feel in myself a lot of the time. I’ve very clearly had episodes of major depression in my life, since I was 13 but when I talk about feeling depressed I really don’t want anyone to be sad for me or feel bad for me, because it’s okay, it’s just a feeling and an episode of illness I’m living with. Yes it’s awful, but I always know it will pass for me and everyone else. We ALL have sadness in our lives, but depression is complex and can show itself in many forms and faces making it had to definitively know that you’re feeling sad. Everything seemed pretty clear until at 15, I had my first flight into mania that lasted a month and a half (July- mid August). It felt like a deep sigh after holding my breath, or rain to a thirsty plant. The world would be so colourful, exciting, beautiful, rich, my senses brighter, my head running fast with ideas. And through all of it I could never ever fathom how the heck I could ever feel depressed again. But it took so long to recognise this as mania or hypomania, because how on earth can that be a bad thing. We forget the bad bits of a bipolar high, the voices, the anger, the exhaustion we feel once it’s over and feeling utterly, uselessly out of control. I’ll never forget hearing the phrase from my therapist ‘Its like being yourself and being elated again, but it’s also something more’. I never even knew something was wrong, I was just glad to feel something different for a while, but living like actions don’t have consequences compound the impacts of my behaviour often leaving me in a huge mess as my mood begins to go down again. I’ve found meds helpful too settle things down (on a combination of an antidepressant and an antipsychotic) in combination with therapy that can help recognise and unpeel the thoughts and feelings in each episode. But it’s good to understand it all, whether you have bipolar, like me, depression, any other mood disorder or none- moods are all okay, it’s just learning to handle them and heal from them.
~We often find that, although we hate our mental illnesses with a passion, there are moments when we can feel in love and deeply attached to our illness. I have experienced this with my eating disorder and self harm, and to some extent depression too. This can make recovery from these issues particularly challenging~
“I feel like I belong in my illness.” It is where I’m meant to be. The real world is too hard to cope with and I am left with my poor mental health and unhealthy coping mechanisms that I can just sink into and soothe myself, escaping from the world around me. Sometimes relapse can feel like coming home.
“My illness is the only interesting thing about me”. Often we feel as if we were chosen to be sick. It sounds bizarre but sometimes we can feel special for having an illness. And once we are deep into it, it is so all-consuming that we don’t have anything else going on in our lives to love. And we may have distanced our loved ones so much that we are isolated and alone with our illness. It feels as if it is the only thing we can rely on.
“No one will care when I’m better” Being sick often means lots of appointments and much intrusive therapy and social care. The attention, although sometimes unwanted, reinforces the idea that being sick means we are more loved. This is not true, but when our perception is poor, it can feel like it.
“My illness is my friend”. Mainly applies to eating disorders but I feel this when everything thing in my life seems to be going wrong and my ED is the only thing I have. It is a constant. It feels loyal when everyone around me is not. But it’s fake. It’s a lie designed by the illness to make me fall in deeper and trust it. And it’s not true at all because, even though you may be unable to see it, it is not your friend and you have plenty of people who love you and care about you in the world. Your illness is not one of them.
I feel like I am falling in love, over and over again, every minute. I am submerged beneath waves of happiness that I can quite literally feel flowing over my body. I am perspiring and shaking. And although I am in blissful beautiful Euphoria, it’s agonising, painful, uncomfortable and frightening.
Being at such extremes of mood means feeling out of control and spiralling. I’m not sure I’m in control of my limbs or speech. Things come as bursts or explosions rather than flows of water in streams. These rushes of speech can have consequences but when your manic: actions have no consequences.
Time to stay up till 4 in the morning, I guess.