someone told me once that it’s difficult for therapists to get clients to open up to them about suicidal thoughts, not only because clients might have reservations in sharing those but also because therapists themselves are uneasy at broaching the topic. there’s a fear of legal limits, of actions therapists and mental health professionals are legally obligated to take if they believe someone will kill her/him/theirself, and, sometimes, no one wants to get into that — no one wants to be saddled with that kind of obligation, that kind of responsibility over someone’s life.
no one wants to go to a therapist and open up only to be thrown into a hospital (or worse) against her/his/their will.
and maybe that’s where the problem starts — the lack of trust, the inability to trust for whatever reason. we can blame culture, and we can blame the system, and we can blame a lot of things, but where does that get us?
because it’s easy to look at the ills in the world and try to parcel out blame. it’s easy to point at social media, at technology, at growing wealth, and it’s easy to lump together entire generations and try to diagnose them, to pigeonhole them into “this generation” or “that generation,” like that really explains anything.
it’s easy to look at statistics and create charts that mark cause and effect, that say, oh, a trans kid is at highest risk for suicide or, oh, this person, that person, blah blah blah, just like it’s easy to say, oh, it’s depression? here’s a pill for that. oh, it’s this? here’s a pill for that, too — and it’s easy because it all makes it easy to bury the real human being at the center of it all. a statistic is a statistic is a statistic, and a diagnosis is a diagnosis is a diagnosis, but is a human being a human being a human being?
can we sit with the pain someone carries, a pain so deep and excruciating that that someone wants to end her/his/their life? can we be there through the darkness; can we hold on even though it hurts us?
one of the things i’ve been learning this year is to speak up, to scream if i need to. as someone who’s largely non-confrontational and hates conflict, i’ve usually been the kind of person who retreats when faced with an argument, who shuts up and just lets people say and think whatever they want and internalizes that rage. it goes without saying that that hasn’t served me well.
2017 has been one elongated lesson in communication, and that also applies to my medical care. i’ve been learning how to talk to a therapist, to a doctor, to a psychiatrist, to explain my needs and the shit in my head. i’ve been learning to voice my concerns about medication — i’ve been lucky that all the people i’ve come across in the medical field thus far have listened and have laid out my options with my concerns in mind.
because the thing with suicide and depression is that, yes, there are physical symptoms, but these are things that live in our brains, and, unless we learn to be our best advocates, no one else will be able to be there for us in the ways that we need.
and, yes, sometimes, we will try to be our best advocates, and we will speak, but people won’t understand or will refuse and try to assert their way, anyway, because that’s human, too — this impulse to fix, to override, to dominate.
in a perfect world, being our best advocates would be enough. unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world, but i still stand by that because, unless we start with at least that, with at least speaking up for ourselves and saying, hey, this is going on; i need you to listen, we will never have a chance.
and the great thing for us today is the wealth of connections lying under our fingertips. if you can’t physically get to a therapist or talk to a professional in person, there are counsellors and therapists just a text away. if you’re feeling isolated because of a lack of community, because you live in a corner of the world that’s toxic to who you are, there are welcoming, affirming communities to be found all over the internet.
and this is why i will never dismiss social media or the internet or technology. i mean, yes, the internet has brought about a whole new set of social issues, and, yes, maybe in some ways, it is contributing to the rise of mental health issues amongst people today. however, at the same time, the internet, technology, social media — they all have created invaluable resources and spaces for people to find the help they need, to hear the voices they need to hear, to find the hope they need to live.
i guess i’ll leave you with this: as someone who takes meds and sees a therapist and meets with a psychiatrist regularly, i can tell you that there is no one solution. a pill alone is not going to fix you. a therapist alone is not going to fix you. a psychiatrist alone is not going to fix you. i believe that you have to start by letting go of this notion that you need to be fixed to begin with, this toxic idea that you're nothing but a problem, a tangled mess of brokenness and damage that doesn't deserve to be heard or seen or understood when all of that is bullshit and none of it is true because what you are is human, and to be human is to carry hurt and brokenness and damage, to learn to live with it, to learn to love with it, to learn to be loved with it.
you are no better and no worse than anyone else because you’re depressed, because you’re suicidal, because you feel like you’re walking around with a bomb in your brain and a break in your heart.
you are simply you, and you are simply human, and you’re trying, and that is more than okay.