strain & discomfort
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and reading the news this am with my morning coffee, browsing Twitter, and hearing all the stories people are brave enough to share, made me sit and reflect on myself and my relationship with the word: SUICIDE.
Suicide and mental illness, have a HUGE stigma attached them.
People make snap judgements, project assumptions onto to people that struggle or speak out about their stories. This is why a lot of it stays in the dark, people don’t reach out for help, and so many people die each year. They worry about how they will be labeled, and even judged by the ones closest to them, which is the worse kind of judgment in my book.
I know this because I’ve witnessed first hand the aftermath that suicide leave on families and friends, and I struggled with mental challenges around the time I became a new mother. I even judged myself, “Pull yourself together, people have kids all the time. Why can’t you figure it out? You are making a fool of yourself. What will your husband and family think about all this?”
Luckily, for me, these worries in no way kept me silent about the issues swirling around in my head. I was self aware enough to know this was a big change, I hated the way I was feeling, and could see myself separate from what I was experiencing, but even still, it takes over in ways that are quick and cavernous.
Motherhood hit me HARD, as it does most. The sleep deprivation, constant worry, the crying, you name it. Needless to say, Brayden, “our angry baby”, as the pediatrician would eventually call him, was quite the handful and no where near the kind, sensitive, self-content boy he is today.
But it worked.
It was hard, but so joyous at the same time. I loved that little angry monster as hard as I could and yes, he was a nutso, high maintenance baby, but it worked out and we managed the way most new parents do; on little sleep and lots of coffee.
It was towards the end of my pregnancy with Bear where things shifted. I remember it to the day, the feeling of something shifting inside. I was on bed rest for what seemed like forever, Brayden was pissed off about who knows what, Brett was busy adjusting to his new job in NC, and a switch turned in my brain. I would later describe this to my OBGYN, who would brush me off time and time again, “it’s like the lights went out and all that was left was thick dark sludge weighing me down.”
From then on everything was too hard. Getting out of bed. Going to the bathroom. Taking a shower. Caring for two tiny humans, let alone myself, our new home, our dog, and Brett. It was dark, heavy, and never ending. I can remember it all in this picture. It says it in my eyes…
Luckily for me, I never turned this darkness onto the kids or myself in a true, suicidal sense.
*Side Note: See…even my own biased still creeps in today. My own stigma I hold about suicide, washes over those statements. The ME vs THEM can be felt in that one sentence. I am trying still to not speak in these terms, which can be isolating and damaging to awareness, but they creep out even still…
My thoughts, once I managed to get everyone taken care of, and I would crawl into bed to the safe refuge of my snuggly comforter, would look more like this:
Seeing someone sneeze at the grocery store, “Maybe if I got the flu this winter, and it was SO bad, I would have to go to the hospital and then I could rest. It would be like a vacation.” Passing and ambulance on the street, “What if a car hit us right now, and no one was hurt but me. Then I would have to rest and heal and someone else would have to take over for a while.”
It’s that last one that stuck with me the most and lead me to advocate LOUDLY and FEROCIOUSLY for myself over and over again, until something finally stuck. And it will stick eventually, I truly believe that.
*Side Note: I laughed so hard when they depicted this in Bad Moms, all while hearing other women in the audience muffle things like “Whoa crazy” and “Easy Psycho”…
I look back on that time now fondly. Only time can give you that gift. However, I also look back on that time as one huge, multilayered lesson.
It was a lesson is self-advocacy; I now know that you have to push hard for the things you want and need help with in life. Western medicine is going to push back on you so hard, want to only prescribe you medication and have you move along. You also have to uncomfortably push back on the people closest to you and make damn sure they know this is serious. The saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” never made more sense to me after that. I am so grateful that things didn’t get to dark for me to lose sight of advocating for myself.
It was a lesson in humility. Those few years brought me to my knees and put into perspective that, no Sue, in fact you don’t have all the answers and life isn’t always going to be so easy for you. Buck up young person.
It was a lesson in both love and empathy. As dark as that time was, my heart ripped wide open for others and my family. They stood by me and walked me through it, in the best way they knew how. It made my heart grow enormously for new mothers and the silent struggles they face day in and day out. You will never hear me speak poorly about a new parent, one because I am not an asshole, but primarily because you have NO idea what is going on. I don’t care how many kids you’ve had, how bad you had it when you had kids, you have NO idea. So take your judgements elsewhere.
Suicide is just one aspect of the broad spectrum of mental illness that the world needs to be aware of. I hope that you never have to face this part of life, but if you do, know this: you are loved, you matter, we need you here, we don’t judge, and it does eventually get better.
“Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US—and the 2nd leading cause among youth—but it's also preventable. That starts with raising awareness about this issue. If you need help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 #WorldSuicidePreventionDay".
Take a listen, this song is beautiful and about how we are all just broken parts walking around. The Maine Band, “Broken Parts”.