As I sit here on this grey, rainy day, I reflect on all I’ve been strong through. Alcoholism, infertility, anxiety, depression, IVF, pregnancy, childbirth, being a mom of twins, working full time, recovery.
Yes, I am strong as hell. But that doesn’t always serve me so well, now does it.
I’m dealing with work situations that are causing me to be stronger than I should have to be. I’ve had numerous people tell me just this week, “you’re so strong you can handle it”. But what if I can’t? What if I’m not strong enough to handle all this? What if I’m one panic attack away from not having another chance to handle it?
I don’t want it to get to that point. Working full time plus the mental load of mothering have got me begging for some mercy. For some help. And believe me, I AM ASKING FOR HELP. At work and at home, I am asking for help. But that doesn’t mean I get it. That doesn’t mean I actually get any help, do you understand what I’m saying? I have to keep asking and asking sometimes and even then, it feels as though because I am strong, I will just work my way through it. SO I PERSIST IN ASKING FOR HELP.
I’ve told the powers that be at work that I will be asking for help every week until this situation gets better. I am on record as saying, I NEED HELP HERE. And that’s just work.
So when folks say, if you are hurting, sad, depressed, suicidal, ASK FOR HELP that doesn’t mean that a) people will ask for help or b) that they will get any help even if they ask.
Many folks aren’t in their right minds enough to ask for help. That’s why we are here.
I’m a person who understands what it means to feel utterly and completely hopeLESS. I am a person who has contemplated suicide several times. Hell, I think about my death all the time. The difference today is that I have some objectivity. I know that if I raised a big enough stink, I could get a break and some real help.
The problem is everybody thinks I’m strong as hell. And I am. I am strong as hell. But I’m also only one person and I’ll be damned if I cannot handle everything life throws at me and everything so many other human beings throw at me.
It’s lonely being strong. It’s lonely being the sober one who has her shit together because I don’t really have my shit together if I’m having anxiety and panic attacks and perimenopause is causing me to redefine my whole existence as a woman.
People don’t pay as much attention to the strong. People don’t check in to make sure the strong folks are ok. People pay attention to the ones who are clearly in need of help and concern, and rightly so.
I don’t say all this because I am in danger of doing anything harmful to myself. At least not right now. But I know there are “strong” friends out there who may be, and they’re the ones we need to keep an eye on as well.
In recovery, I know too many dead folks. Addiction and alcoholism kills people in my circles every single day. But the ones in recovery, the ones who seem to have their shit together, they die too. And people say who could’ve known they were so depressed or so sad or we never saw this coming they seemed to have their lives together. People are HURTING. People are in so much pain all around us.
WE. NEVER. REALLY. KNOW. WHAT. IS. GOING. ON. WITH. ANYBODY. ELSE.
So if you’re feeling guilty or sad or responsible for somebody taking their life or you feel like you could’ve changed their decision, chances are you probably couldn’t. That’s the truth. But if there is a chance you could help or be there to lighten the load, even for your strong friends, please do it.
Check in. Offer to listen. Take their concerns seriously. I tell folks my issues and they don’t take them seriously sometimes because oh it will pass and she’s so strong she can handle it.
I am telling you that is where we get in trouble. Everybody’s issues are important to them. They may not seem as severe as others, they may not seem as dire, but they’re important to them and that’s all that matters.
Asking for help is a privilege. Getting help is even more of a privilege. Too many walk, crawl, stumble through life with no help, no professional help, no safe space.
Being a safe space costs nothing. Find somebody who needs you to listen to them today. TODAY. And then do it again tomorrow.
That saying ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE? That is fake news. It takes vulnerability to survive. It takes courage and trust that somebody else will be there for you and it takes letting yourself go into the arms of another human being. Sure, we need to be strong to walk through this life that seems so hellish sometimes you don’t think you can do it one more day, one more hour, but you do. The thing is, we cannot, we must not do it alone. Connection is the key.
We are all responsible for each other. When we see celebrities take their own lives, people seem to wonder how in the world they could have the world at their fingertips and still end it all. I see it as the natural progression to mental health issues going on too long, untreated, misdiagnosed, or ignored.
Successful people can have mental health issues.
Rich people can have mental health issues.
Poor people can have mental health issues.
Beautiful people can have mental health issues.
Popular surrounded by adoring fans can have mental health issues
People with seemingly perfect families can have mental health issues.
People who travel the world in adventure can have mental health issues.
People in addiction can have mental health issues.
People in recovery can have mental health issues.
People who are strong can have mental health issues.
ANYBODY CAN HAVE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES. Anxiety/depression/bi-polar/mania, and so many others. There is no moral failing in any of these and if you are someone who finds any shame in any of this – the choice to end it all – shame on you. Let’s hope your brain never plays such tricks on you.
Depression isn’t sadness. Depression doesn’t just magically disappear. It takes diagnosis and work and steadfast attention to the behaviors and messages our brain is telling us that aren’t always real or true and it takes the courage and ability to speak up and say something is wrong. It takes all of us paying goddamn close attention to each other.
Because when it becomes I wish I would’ve checked on her more often, it’s too damn late. We are all busy and we are all wrapped up on our own lives. It’s not your fault, but it’s already too damn late. We are all responsible for each other, but we are NOT responsible for someone’s choice to end it. That is not your fault so don’t you for one second think it is your fault.
We can be better at this. We can keep pushing for better and more accurate help with mental health and resources for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available when even our closest people aren’t – 1-800-273-8255.
I know life is hard. I know sometimes things look so bleak you cannot possibly see how it could get better. I know this because I’ve been there. I remember. I know I can go to that place again if I let myself, if my brain goes to a place where I cannot see clearly that this is not forever. I will tell you again that this is not forever. Everything changes if given time. When I say this too shall pass I don’t mean it in a trite, recovery sayings kind of way. I mean it in a I’ve lived long enough to go through several lifetimes and have witnessed that yes, this too shall pass. The good and the horribly rotten cannot find my way out of the darkness pit of despair.
Our brains can play tricks on us and we need to keep an eye on each other to make sure we are ok. Being strong only gets us so far. True strength requires vulnerability. When somebody is brave enough to let you see their vulnerability – even for a second – you could be the one who is there to help. Don’t look away.