It looks like the light tapping of your fingers on a desk in a perfect pattern.
It looks like biting your nails till they bleed.
It looks like staring off into space.
It looks like ignoring someone you love.
It looks like leaving a packed room to get some air.
It looks like anger, fear.
It looks like shortness of breathe.
It looks like thoughtfulness.
It looks like tears.
It looks like the “party pooper” or “lightweight” who’s going home early.
It looks like humor.
It looks like tossing and turning in bed.
It looks like nothing.
All the while, on the inside, it feels like chaos, compulsion, uncontrollable energy. It’s fighting to breathe, to think a clear thought, to focus. It feels painful. It feels better to be alone even if it means leaving your friends and what looks like fun. It feels like you could’ve said something better, did something differently. It’s running through your day in your head, questioning every decision you’ve made.
It feels like everything.
Anxiety is real. It’s not something you can just let go or get over. Your feelings are so very valid. It’s also something that we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about or feel judged for. It’s something we should be able to openly talk about so we can help each other overcome it.
It’s not nothing and you aren’t alone.
It's national suicide prevention week. As this project has evolved, I've gotten a lot of questions about losing someone to suicide. What are the signs? What could I have done differently? How do I get past the guilt? The short answer, I honestly don't know. The long answer, well, there are warning signs but they're usually minute, if they show outwardly at all. I believe it starts with being open and bold in our conversations about mental health, depression, suicide, self-harm, addiction, etc.
The guilt question is the hardest for me to address. I think, as human beings, we're wired for it; and someone you love taking their own life will leave you with more questions than answers. The more uncertainty we face, the easier it is to look inward and blame ourselves. All I can offer is this, depression is a disease and for some, it's a losing battle. You don't blame yourself for the person you love getting cancer so why do we think we can take on the weight of depression? The hope I have is that, while cancer is more or less in the hands of science and skilled medical professionals, mental health support isn't. We have resources, and they're growing everyday. We're having the right conversations. We're erasing stigmas. We're making medical advancements in treatment. And we're not doing it alone anymore.
So, to you, whoever you are, wherever you are, You Aren't Alone. We are better together and the world is a better place with YOU in it. Please don't take that away. Today, choose to stay.
For more information and resources, visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
If you think someone is thinking about suicide, assume you are the only one who will reach out. Here’s how to talk to someone who may be struggling with their mental health.